My first London Marathon by Anthony Hubbard

Anthony Hubbard has been an incredible supporter of The Maximise Potential Podcast since its launch, and having the pleasure of being connected with Anth through Twitter (@anth_hub) over the last couple of years, we’ve followed each other’s progress with interest.

In particular I’ve seen Anth focus with an increasing intensity on his running, firstly through his commitment to his own training but more recently through his decision to become a qualified running coach, and by doing so, inspire an increasing number of beginners to take up running (see @RunWithAnth for details).

So, it is with great pleasure that I can publish Anth’s (extremely detailed) account of his first London Marathon – a perfect read for anyone who has done the event themselves (all those memories will come flooding back) or who might be considering it for next year…..

“Prior to the start of the London Marathon I met up with Michael Phan (#TeamMotivation) at the Lucozade Fuel station. I have spoken with mike via twitter and skype in the past, and he has offered loads of great advice, so it was good to finally meet him. I also met up with another regular tweeter Karen Wright. After we had a photo and a chat, it was time to do the pre-race toilet stop and dump the kit bag on the lorry.

I made my way to the start zones, even at the time the atmosphere was buzzing; everyone was in a good mood and chatting to each other. Once in the start zone the time flew by and it wasn’t long before the gun went off. I had about a 5 minute walk before I reached the start line, I clicked my garmin on and that was it,

I was about to fulfil a childhood dream.

The first 3 miles were tough, the crowds made it very hard to get into a rhythm. There was lots of stop starts, where the road narrowed or the wave of runners came up to walkers and fancy dress runners. I was focused on sticking to 9 minute per mile pace. This was my first mistake, my plan was to average 9 min mile for the race, but I under-estimated the amount of effort this would take out of me given the crowds of runners and the added challenge of running in heat over -2 and in snow. In hindsight the second mistake I made was between mile 4 and 8, I managed to miss all the drink stations, so when I reached the one after mile 8, I was feeling dehydrated and started to gulp on a bottle of water. In an ideal world I would have had a sip of water at each drink station and then discarded the bottle.

As I was approaching Tower Bridge my head was telling me that I was slowing down and was fatigued, but I checked my pace and I was still running at a consistent pace. As I crossed Tower Bridge the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end, the crowds were amazing. It almost seemed surreal as I have watched the scenes at Tower Bridge so many times on television. I crossed the half way point bang on target, my 5k splits up to this point were perfect. What I hadn’t factored into my pre-race plans was the amount it would take out of me sticking to that target. I just assumed averaging 9 minute mile pace would be the same as when I’ve done it in training. The stop/start and swerving to over take other runners, the heat, the mental focus to maintain the pace average hadn’t been factored into my pre-race plans.

As I reached 14 miles I checked my heart rate, it was 198, this was the the perfect excuse for my mind. It started ticking away, that’s way too high, just think of the people who have died during marathons etc. So I caved in, and began slowing down in a bid to get my heart rate down. I ended up walking, even then my heart rate was at 172. My legs did feel slightly fatigued, but they had more in them, it was my mind that was suffering the most, and to make things worst I started to beat myself up. I never stopped, but the fact I had resorted to walking felt like a failure, the fact I wasn’t going to go sub 4 hours like I had told people I was aiming to made me feel like I was letting people down. I was really struggling to find any focus, I couldn’t even revise my target and tag on with the 4:10 or 4:20 pacers as they past me. I mixed running and walking up to 22 miles still in this mindset. When I got to 22 miles, I finally let it go and started to soak in the atmosphere and I stopped beating myself up and ignored the clock. I found miles 23-25 the most enjoyable, the atmosphere was incredible, without doubt the best on the course. Even though I was still mixing walking and running the crowd made me feel like an athlete. It’s the closet I will ever get to knowing how Team GB felt at the 2012 Olympics.

I got to see my Mother and Auntie just after mile 23, I had a quick hug and received a pat on the back. This gave me such a massive lift.

I started running again and felt a glow of pride.

You are actually going to finish the London Marathon. Running past Big Ben was also a massive highlight, I was told be a friend to make sure I took it in as she had missed Big Ben the first time she ran the marathon. I was till struggling to keep running, I just had to break it down into 400 metre intervals, I ran for 400m and walked for 200m it was just about getting to the end nothing else. As I reached 400m to go a lady dressed as a shoe passed me, this and the fact 4:40 was fast approaching saw me break into a sprint. God knows where the sprint came from, but I was running strong down the Mall, just as I had pictured I would. As I crossed the line, I put one hand on my heart and made a peace sign with the other as a mark of respect to those affected by the Boston Bombing.

Four years ago I was overweight and drinking quite heavily, now I had just completed the London Marathon.

Looking back now the following 60 minutes that followed crossing the finish line showed how much I have developed in the last 12 months. I initially went back to beating myself up, I smiled for all the post race photos, but inside I was gutted and felt like I let people down. I even texted a few people saying “sorry I let you down”. Now without consciously thinking about it, my brain was processing what had happened and as the congratulations messages rolled in, I started to get a bit more perspective on proceeding. This had been a dream since I was 8. When I was 8 all I wanted to do was run the marathon, I hadn’t thought I only want to run it if I can do it under 4 hours. I had realised that dream.

All of a sudden I was thinking “right we learn from this, we train harder next time and we come back stronger”.

I then started thinking about my next goal, I’d already set this with #TeamMotivation on Twitter, it’s to go sub 45 minutes for a 10k. So without really thinking about it, I had automatically turned what I initially saw as a failure, into motivation to achieve my next goal. Failure or perceived failure has been discussed on a number for the podcasts, I think I have learned a lot from these. Normally after failing at something, I would be down in the dumps. When I felt I failed at the Great North Run it took me about 10 weeks to get over it. It took me 60 minutes to process this perceived failure and turn it round. I know I will run a sub 4 hour marathon in the near future; I have set that goal with #TeamMotivation. I’ve given myself 12 months, which given where I was last year, is more than enough time. I looked back at last years running diary, before writing this. On 21/04/12 my total mileage for the year was 140.39 on that date this year I had run a total of 394.68. This might not seem like a lot to some people, but to me it’s a marked improvement and if I carrying on setting goals and trying to better myself, where could I be 21/04/14.

The inspiring stories on Maximise Potential have encouraged me to better myself and make changes in my own life. These are small changes compared to some of the inspiring stories. But I am still in a better place than I was this time last year. I think that is the main thing, if you are improving, it doesn’t matter by how much. Not everyone can set a world record, but they can set a goal and work their arse off to do their very best to try to achieve it.”

By Anthony Hubbard

Thanks for taking the time to write this Anth! It was a pleasure reading it and I’m so pleased that the Podcasts were able to play a part in your journey!!!

About the Author

Hi, I'm Tom Burkinshaw, I co-produce the Maximise Your Potential Podcast and Website and my goal is to help as many people as possible be successful in life, careers and business, by offering free coaching and mentoring through a series of unique interviews from inspiring people who all display exceptional self-belief, mental toughness and desire to achieve. Thank you for taking the time to visit Maximise Your Potential!