Today is Sunday 26th April – the date of the 2020 London Marathon. Except it's not happening today.
Last year, I ran the marathon – for the first time, and it was one of the best days of my life.
Before the memories of the day blur too much, I wanted to write them down. Perhaps someone else is thinking about taking part on this incredible day once the world returns to some form of normality.
Here's my story.
The build up
“Good luck! I’ll be watching from the pub.”
This was the first person I saw after leaving the house – a black cab driver – on my walk to East Dulwich station. What an appropriate way to start the most London of days – by bumping into someone with the most London of professions.
It was early. It was quiet. And it wasn't raining. Not hot, but also not cold. Perfect running weather.
It was eerily quiet – was it really the right day? Was this just a dream? Can I return to bed?
I had nothing but nerves. I could barely speak from the moment I woke up.
Should I drink more water?
Should I drink less?
Have I eaten enough?
Should I eat more?
I don't feel hungry! I don't want to be sick!
Will my top rub?
Will my knee hold out?
What if I trip?
Are my trainers going to be OK?
What if my timing chip doesn't work and my times don't get counted?
What if my bib number falls off?
Did I actually register everything OK?
What if I injure myself and have to pull out – my whole family are following me from the app?
Am I going to get there too early? Too late?
Once I reached the station – the platform was quiet, but a handful of other runners turned up. Clearly they've done this before. This is the correct day! This is the correct time.
When I arrived at London Bridge Station, the atmosphere became real – it was busy, despite being so early on a Sunday. People were shuffling around, following coloured flags to different platforms.
When I reached the top of the escalator up to the platform for the train to Maze Hill there were plenty of police around and lots of runners. The helicopter in the sky set me off – this is real. This is the London Marathon – and I am taking part in it.
Police were everywhere – looking after the runners, helping guide everyone to the right place. An immediate wave of positivity, of excitement, but also of collective nervousness diffused through the air.
London Bridge is where you must say goodbye to anyone you've been travelling with up until this point. You're on your own from here. I had to disconnect from the warm reassurance of Lauren. What I'd do to go and sit in a cafe and have a bacon roll right now...
The train journey vanished past, and before I knew it, we were at Maze Hill station.