Spectating the London Marathon and Women Run Strong Event

London Marathon weekend was so much fun!

I wasn’t running, of course, but I still got into the action by attending the Women Run Strong shakeout run and talk on Friday evening, visiting the Expo on Saturday, and cheering for the marathon on Sunday.

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The Women Run Strong event was hosted by Kelly Roberts (of Run, Selfie, Repeat) and Susie Chan, a British ultrarunner. The panel also included Devon Yanko, a Oiselle-sponsored ultrarunner, and Sophie Walker, the leader of the UK Women’s Equality Party.

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We met at a running store in Central London and headed out for a 2.5 mile shakeout run along the Thames.

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The Tower of London and the Shard

The event drew a big crowd of women and included some runners I had connected with on social media but hadn’t met in person yet. I also found my friend Amy, a health and fitness journalist who was running the marathon on Sunday!

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Running over Tower Bridge with Amy

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Photo by Anna Rachel Photography

Photo by Anna Rachel Photography

After the run, we had some snacks back at The Running Works and settled in for a panel discussion. These inspiring women had some great advice about running, training, recovering, and believing in yourself.

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Photo by Anna Rachel Photography

Photo by Anna Rachel Photography

Photo by Anna Rachel Photography

The whole evening made me really impatient for my IT-band to heal so I can train for another marathon!

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Photo by Anna Rachel Photography

On Saturday afternoon, I headed to the London Marathon Expo. The Expo was way out in the Southeastern part of London, and Saturday afternoon was of course the busiest time.

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But I just had to hear Paula Radcliffe speak!

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Paula Radcliffe is a British runner who has held the women’s marathon world record since 2003, when she ran 2:15:25 at the London Marathon. No one else has even come close to that. Due to stupid running regulations, there are technically two separate women’s world records: one for before women and men raced separately (which Paula still holds) and one “women only” record, which was previously held by Paula since 2005 but was broken at this year’s London Marathon by 40 seconds. The new “women only” record is 2:17:01, but Paula still holds the overall record.

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I didn't have a race bib so I had Paula sign a London Marathon map...but shh, I didn't tell her I wasn't running the marathon!

I didn’t have a race bib so I had Paula sign a London Marathon map…but shh, I didn’t tell her I wasn’t running the marathon!

I also got to see the new London Marathon sneakers from Brooks, which feature a big Union Jack flag.

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I have to say, I prefer last year’s, which have an artistic version of the Tube Map on them. I was able to snag these on sale earlier this year!

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I also stopped by the Picky Bars booth and said hi to Lauren Fleshman, pro-athlete who runs for Oiselle. We had met years ago at a few Oiselle events so it was nice to catch up – and commiserate about my injury, since Lauren has dealt with IT-band issues in the past!

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A gigantic version of this year’s London Marathon medal

After the Expo, since I was so motivated, I went for a beautiful run on Hampstead Heath. I still pinch myself that I live so close to this gorgeous park that feels like being in the middle of the countryside, right in North London.

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On Sunday morning, I headed to a spot near Tower Bridge to cheer at Mile 23 of the marathon with November Project London. I had made two signs to cheer with – I was only planning on making the peanut butter one, but since the posterboard was 2 for £3, I ended up making two:

Photo by Anna Rachel Photography

Photo by Anna Rachel Photography

We had a great spot just as the course opened up from a bottleneck, and were able to spot all of our runners.

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The London Marathon is known for two things: charity runners, and costumed runners. There were so many crazy costumes and people trying to break Guinness World Records. This was my favorite – a UK postbox!

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November Project London cheer squad

After such a running-focused weekend filled with so many inspirational runners, I am really antsy to start training for another race. Fortunately, my IT-band is healed enough to let me do fun runs like the Women Run Strong shakeout, but it starts to hurt after 3-4 miles, and I still do those miles pretty slowly. I’m trying to channel my motivation and impatience to race something into doing my PT exercises, but it’s hard, especially when the weather is so nice and all I want to do is run!

Nevertheless, I was so inspired this weekend by all of my friends running the London Marathon, and I can’t wait to plan my next race. I’m hoping to do at least a couple of 5Ks and 10Ks before I leave London, even if I just jog them rather than race them, but I am itching to plan a comeback…stay tuned.

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Photo by Anna Rachel Photography

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