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53,903 STEPS equals my first marathon an amazing, emotional 26.2 miles.
To say I am feeling chuffed to have made it all the way around the London Marathon is an understatement. The whole event was an amazing experience, one full of exhilaration, pain, comradery, admiration and of course relief when you cross that finishing line.
I have to say a massive thank you to Virgin, they really know how to organise an event and make every single step of the way as easy and motivational as possible. By now many of you are used to my ramblings, so in my normal fashion I want to try to share the experience with you as best I can.
I left for London on the Thursday wanting to make the most of the lead up to the big day I had been working so hard for, over the last 5 months. After dropping my luggage off I headed straight over to the London Marathon Expo to collect my running number and to get the strapping on my calf replaced as it was starting to peal away. Although I went alone the atmosphere was so inclusive, a real buzz of excitement hung in the air.
I didn’t see Big Ben running the marathon but the man in that costume was the one who kindly replaced my strapping giving me the confidence to run on Sunday. Whilst I was being treated a Spanish lady hobbled onto the stand having sprained her ankle in the airport earlier that day, my heart really went out to her, traveling so far and then injuring herself days before. The genuine sympathy shared as the Physio shook his head and told her it was extremely unlikely to be healed enough for her to run. I really counted my blessings at that point at least I could attempt the run.
The next day I spent with my amazing Mum, visiting art shops, with a few other stops thrown in. The constant changes in our high streets have pretty much seen the demise of “Art Stores” much to my disappointment. So to have the opportunity to visit two amazing shops was like a visit to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. As much as i love the internet nothing can replace the experience you get in store, the chance to touch and engage with what's around you.
Saturday was spent visiting some very good friends, it was a real trip down memory lane, we all met about 20 years ago (pre kids) and used to spend so much time together which tended to involve excessive amounts of alcohol, late nights and lots of laughter. All these years on being around a table with all of our children and old friends was fantastic. Leaving this merry lot who were happily tucking into their umpteenth drink, was a real struggle and a good test of my will power (I found it very hard to leave), I retreated early, leaving my rather merry husband, friends and children to it.
Sunday I was up early and downed a hearty breakfast before making my way to Greenwich for the start of those 26.2 infamous miles. Walking to the tube station was the start of the buzz for me as I passed many other hopeful London Marathoners making their way to the start; all of us easily identified by the same clear backpack we carried with our belongings, ready to be loaded on to lorries prior to the start of the race. I don’t think I’ve ever been on a tube full of runners before all of us heading to the same place anxious to get the day started.
After the half hour wait for the loo’s ( a very important start to the day!) I headed to my starting point, the atmosphere had changed massively with the start so near, everyone taking time to focus on what was ahead. I couldn’t keep the smile off my face looking around at my fellow runners, the guy running in a Viking costume, the Green Fairy running for Prostate Cancer, the girl next to me with matching trainers. I got talking to a young man who had become a viral sensation last year when he went down on one knee at the 18 mile mark and proposed to his girlfriend. Best of all, we were all shapes and sizes, proving that almost anyone can do anything if they but their mind to it.
10 o’clock came and we all patiently waited in line for our chance to start the run, with warnings from the compare not to wee in people's gardens or the parks! It was over 20 minutes before I reached the starting point and then off I set at a decent pace, laughing as I looked to my left 100 meters into the run and saw approximately 20 runners (men of course) lining the side of the road doing you know what!
From the very start of the race I was overwhelmed by the amount of support from spectators, nearly every inch of the course was full of people lining the route, shouting words of encouragement. Children lined up with their hand out hoping to high five the passing crowds. When I started to train I had hoped to complete the run in under 5 hours not quick but it would have been a really decent time for me.
I started pacing myself to achieve my target time, but with the flexible approach of just getting around having been warned by the Sports physio and many others not to push myself as my calf would be likely to tear again. After the first few miles I started to experience severe pain in my calf and I then started to panic about how painful it might be if it was to rip again, more importantly doubting I’d be able to finish.
Joining a queue for the loo as my nerves had got the better of me, I made the decision to ease up to ensure I made it all of the way around. Waiting in line for 6 minutes on a timed run was novel and even funnier talking to the girl behind me who got out her electric cigarette and enjoyed a good puff during her break, eight minutes later I was back running, feeling a lot more comfortable!
Every single step of the way people cheered and cried out words of support, it was so overwhelming that it brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion. By the time I reached mile 8, I had to walk occasionally to rest my calf and just got on and enjoyed the experience. I ran by the side of the road high fiving the children stood with expectant hands held out.
Every few paces someone was offering Jelly Babies, flapjacks, sandwiches and on one occasion wine. On nearly every street some one was in their garden with speakers blaring commentating on those running past. It was truly amazing. Total exhilarating.
Just before mile 10, my marker became a Morris dancer, this amazing man, was dressed in the full gear and every 5 strides waved his hanky in the air, the crowds loved him and his bells; during the run I would often overtake him and when walking hear the distinctive sound of bells approaching. At mile 16 I really started to appreciate how my training had helped prepare me, I had the energy for the run and that never faltered, just a shame I injured myself so late in training. Those running around me truly inspired me, everyone had their reason to run. At one water station I passed a bottle to a man struggling to reach the station due to the fact he was running with a tumble dryer on his back. I overtook and then was overtaken by a brave blind lady Nicola and her guide runner. Wonder Woman passed me early on but was walking the later part. To many amazing people trying to complete one amazing event.
My family were out in force and cheered me on, there is nothing like seeing someone you know cheering you on. The second time I saw them at mile 22 I stopped for a quick hug before continuing on my way. I don’t know how but I made it, as soon as I reached the line my body stiffened, but I made it. I ran (and walked a little) 26.2 miles. I am now the proud owner of a London Marathon medal and t-shirt, I shall be adorning the shirt like a proud child at every opportunity (I’m even considering wearing it to work!)
I owe a massive thank you to everyone who has supported me on this journey in so many ways (it sounds soppy but it was a really big deal for me). Thank you to my amazing family and friends.
Fabulous absolutely fabulous!!!!!!!
I’m so impressed Nicky… great blog too xx