Member of the Okhane Coaching Team
Michael Banks

Virtual Virgin London Marathon 2020

4th October 2020
Posted on 7 October, 2020 in

I was not planning on entering a marathon again, but when the London Marathon announced that there was going to be a virtual marathon due to the COVID pandemic I could not resist the opportunity to run this unique edition of the event.

Michael Banks Run Training

When I entered I knew this was going to be a difficult event for me to complete as I was still trying to recover properly from (what I think was) the COVID virus picked up in March 2020. Training was going very slowly, and I was struggling to regain fitness - my legs felt fine, my lungs however did not!

What I was most looking forward to is being able to select my own course, and decided quite early on that I would run small loops passing my house, and also taking in my parents and my nan along the route as I knew that they would offer much needed support.

With a date to aim for, I stepped up my training knowing that I would not be in good shape for the day of the event, but the aim was to give me a decent base so that I would be able to do laps of my course, and then take a break before carrying on... after all I had 24 hours to complete the run! It took a while but eventually my lungs started to feel as though they belonged to me, and by the time the day of the event came around I could run close to a half marathon distance at a reasonable pace - at least that would give me a chance to complete the run.

I woke up on the day of the event to find out the weather was horrendous! Cold and very wet was going to be the order of the day, but running short loops was going to help as it would give me a chance to change in to dry warm clothing when required. I had some breakfast, then made sure everything I needed was out ready for me when needed.

Michael Banks Virtual London Marathon 2020

I set out at 9am, nice and easy to help warm up and ease into the run. I was very quickly soaked through, and maintaining body heat was difficult. My laps were 5k in distance, and I was looking to run around 30 minutes per lap, which I successfully managed for the first 3 laps. At the end of each lap I made a quick stop to make sure I remained fuelled up and also changed clothes when required. After 3 laps, my pace significantly dropped, and I was taking between 37-45 minutes, struggling to keep warm and battling with my lack of marathon fitness. Each lap my mum would come out the front of her house with a hot drink and a selection of snacks to help keep me warm and fuelled, which was a factor in my slowing lap times, but were a huge welcome in keeping me motivated.

Several changes of outfit later, and some very wet cold laps behind me, I found myself with 1 full lap to do back to my house, then a short run round to my finishing line that was my parents house. This was a big boost, as I knew that I had around 7km to go, and the finish line (and a nice warm shower) was in sight. I left my house, and the rest of my family then set of to meet me at my finish line. Past my mum for the final time - and another warm drink inside me - and then on to pass my nan's house for the last time, with another cheer as I went past. The rest of that lap seemed to take forever, but I did see a few other people as I went round that lap (I had not seen anyone else on my course before that). As I was wearing my running number they recognised I was running the marathon, and gave me some cheers of encouragement which helped me along my way. I arrived back at my house for the last time, not stopping this time but pushing on... just over 2km to go... one last push!

I arrived at my parents house which was my designated finish line, to have an actual finish arch to run through and a small crowd to cheer me in... there was even a medal to present to me. That was a fantastic way to finish the run, which was different in so many ways to the previous 2 London Marathons that I had taken part in.

5 hour 47 minutes of sheer determination, rain and cold... It was no where near as quick as I know I can run when fully fit, but to run that special race again they way I chose to run it was just perfect!

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