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Reporter's log: Pride and triumph define London Marathon experience

By Wang Mingjie in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2024-04-23 01:07
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General view as participants' shoes are seen in Greenwich, London, Britain during the London Marathon on April 21. [Photo/Agencies]

Participating in the London Marathon is the ultimate aspiration for countless runners. For me, running the London Marathon holds profound significance. It's a race on home turf, surrounded by the unwavering support of friends and club members.

Despite grappling with a persistent knee injury that forced me to defer the race for the past two years, I made the decision to give it another shot this year, even though my knee hadn't fully recovered from keyhole surgery last September.

In the days leading up to the race, doubts started to creep in, questioning the wisdom of pursuing such a goal without the same level of preparation as previous marathons.

Nonetheless, I set myself a realistic target: to finish the 42-kilometer course within 3 hours 45 minutes, while safeguarding against worsening the knee problem.

The night before the race, I prepared all the essentials: my club vest for recognition and cheers, a chocolate bar for refueling during the race, and two energy gels.

On race day, I rose early, ensuring ample time for breakfast. Arriving at the assembly area and seeing tens of thousands of fellow runners was an exhilarating experience, marking the beginning of an endorphin surge.

Standing at the starting line, my goal was to maintain a steady pace of 5 minutes 15 seconds per kilometer. Fueled by the excitement and the energy of the event, I found myself starting faster, averaging sub 5 minutes per km.

As the race progressed, my body adapted well to the pace. Though I experienced a flare-up in my knee at the 5-km mark, it gradually eased.

For the next 15 km, I immersed myself in the electric atmosphere: the cheers, shout-outs, confetti, high-fives, and music, all adding to the unique essence of the London Marathon.

Reaching the halfway point near Tower Bridge, I couldn't help but marvel at the iconic London landmark. In the meantime, I even entertained the thought that I might achieve a better time than planned, as the first half hadn't been as challenging as expected.

Then came the hurdle. Around the 32-km mark, I notice that my pace had crept above 5 minutes and I felt my legs stiffening, unable to maintain a faster cadence.

The toll of inadequate training became apparent. I struggled to maintain the pace for the next 5 km. My legs felt heavy, and doubt whispered in my ear.

I fueled myself with my chocolate bar and water, and managed to procure a banana from a spectator.

The turning point came as I reached the stand of my local running club; the overwhelming volume of the cheers electrified me. With renewed determination, I pressed on.

At the 40 km mark, I glanced at my watch again, realizing that maintaining an average of 6 minutes per km would secure me a finish in 3 hours 30 minutes. It served as a strong motivation.

The final stretch loomed ahead, and a surge of emotions overcame me. The pain in my knee paled in comparison to the euphoria and pride welling up inside me.

Crossing the finish line, joy emerged, and a smile that stretched from ear to ear. I have done it. The journey had been arduous, filled with doubts and setbacks, but I had emerged stronger than ever.

As I received my finisher's medal, I knew that this was just the beginning. The London Marathon had provided a platform for me to discover the depths of my strength and resilience, showing me that dreams are within reach, even when the path seems uncertain.

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