We started early, with breakfast consisting of some porridge with honey, two slices of brown toast with raspberry jam and, of course, a lucozade. Then it was off to Greenwich where the race would begin. TfL are awesome and give all runners free travel on the underground network on race day and with their staff holding the barriers open for you, you can't help but feel like a hero.
Sadly, Rory and I had to part when we reached Greenwich for him to go to his start, and me to mine but we were careful to plan out how we were going to meet eachother during the race. After our setback earlier in the week, I think we were both a bit emotional to say goodbye to each other in case our plan didn't work and we had to run the full 26.2 miles on our own.
After that, it was straight to the starting pens and here's where Rory and I's little plan fell into action. I was in pen 5 alongside all the other runners who were running about a 9:45 pace, whilst he had cleverly not told the organisers how fast he was so he was in pen 9 with the tyrannosaurus rex and the Jamaican bobsleigh team. I can't lie, this didn't do much for my nerves. Once we were in our starting pens, we phoned each other even though our signal was terrible. I would like to pretend this was just for practical reasons but it's been a while since I've been on a start line on my own.
So, we stayed on a very shaky phone line until we crossed the line to make sure we crossed at the same time, had a shiver as we realised this was it, hung up and stuck our music on as loud as it would go.
The first few miles were surreal but flew by. I was feeling good and before I knew it, I was at 3 miles were the two routes start to join. I called Rory again as soon as I saw the other runners to try and track him down. He was a couple of minutes behind me but that wasn't really a problem in comparison to what I'd anticipated. I hung back until he came round the corner and then we continued the rest of our lengthy journey together.
The next few miles were awesome - the crowds were cheering us on and we were easily keeping to our ideal pace. At 8 miles we saw our first supporters who received a sweaty hug each and an awkward scream in the face. Seeing our friends and family throughout those first ten or so miles was amazing and surprisingly emotional.
Onwards we went and it was time for the iconic Tower Bridge moment which was a great feeling to be almost halfway and still feeling good. However, people around us were starting to flag, the pace was starting to drop and by 14 miles where the other runners were starting to come back the other way, there were quite a few people walking by the sides of the road.
We carried on out towards the Isle of Dogs and saw some more friends around Wapping where my greeting was far less enthusiastic (nothing personal, I promise!) and this is where we started to flag slightly. I was experiencing a lot of pain down my arms (weird, I know!) and also some reduced movement in my big toe which was manifesting into pain underneath my right foot. We got to 16 miles and with the pain only getting worse, we stopped and had a couple of paracetamol each.
Feeling bolstered by the placebo effect (or two paracetamol on a now empty stomach) we picked up the pace again and kept running through the next few miles. Mentally I felt like I'd hit a turning point at 18 miles and I knew we were starting to hit home. This lasted for approximately half a mile before it wavered again, though we managed to keep running.
The whole way round supporters were cheering our names and it makes such a difference. A few well-timed cheers kept us going through to 21 miles and that's really when we stared to pick up the pace again. My resolve kicked back in and being able to count down the remaining miles on one hand felt awesome. Those last few miles turned into a bit of a blur as I focused on just getting through them. In hindsight, I wish I'd felt a bit better here as it was such as scenic part of the route and I don't really feel like I stopped to take stock enough.
Running down the Mall was incredible and it spurred me on knowing I was so close. We picked up speed and before I knew it we were at 600M to go. By this point, I think I was mildly hysterical, pushing us faster and faster knowing that we were so close to it all being over. Coming in to the finish was a hugely surreal feeling (but better than earlier), as I just couldn't get my head around the fact we'd done it.
Rory and I crossed the line hand in hand, in honour of the first joint winners of the London Marathon who had done just that thirty-five years earlier. We completed it in a time of 4:25, and I managed to sneak over the line a full second before Rory which I obviously haven't let him live down.
Finishing was incredible, and while the whole experience was a little harrowing, it was completely emotional and totally overwhelming. So much so, I tried to have a little cry when we finished, but I was so dehydrated that nothing really came out. Completing the marathon knowing we'd also raised over £2,200 for London Youth was just the most exhilarating and equally draining feeling.
When we'd pulled ourselves together, it was on the pub where our wonderful friends and family were waiting to greet us with beer and sweaty hugs. Our day finished in true style, with a trip to McDonalds and 20 chicken nuggets.