‘I did it, I did it, I did it’, these were the words that I repeated over and over again as I crossed the finish line of the Virgin London Marathon 2017. Four months of training, 26.2 miles behind me and 4hrs 58 minutes 30 seconds of running. To be honest those first few minutes after finishing felt bazar. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I realised I had just completed the biggest event of my life but none of my loved ones were right there to share the experience with me. No one to give me a hug, no one to high five me and no one to say well done, its kind of weird. On the other hand, as a stranger placed the medal around my neck a huge sense of pride crept over me. For a few minutes I stood there a little emotional and in disbelief that a) I had achieved the distance b) I was still injury free and c) it was actually over!
Next I wandered aimlessly to get my goody bag and then find my way to my family, my body so exhausted (you can probably tell by the look on my face in the photo which was taken a few minutes after I had finished). But a big smile stayed across my face and my whole body was filled with pride for myself and all the other runners who had completed the mad challenge raising so much money for so many charities.
So, back to the race, how was it? Well, I didn’t sleep that well the night before. A different bed, too much heat and the anxiety of the next day probably all to blame. We were up at 6am sharp we ate a good breakfast and then headed into London. The excitement built from the moment we reached the station and with other runners soon around us the big day suddenly seamed real. I felt calm to start with but as we neared Bexley Heath station I had butterflies in my stomach. My other half James was also running but unfortunately we were given different starts so I left him at the blue start and headed to red. The next hour consisted of drinking Lucozade and water and multiple toilet breaks. At around 9.45am I joined the queue and stood with the 4hrs 45 pacing group. The race started at 10am but it took me 30 min’s before I even passed the start line.
The first few miles were great they were slow due to the amount of people but at this point the atmosphere was great and everyone was smiling! However, within 2 miles I needed a toilet stop. I decided to take it so that I could run the rest of the race with no problems and to be honest it only took me a couple of minutes in the queue so no real time lost!
The first half of the race was amazing I felt really good, I stuck to a slow pace and took my energy gels every 4 miles. At mile 10 I started to count down to seeing my family who were at mile 13. It was amazing running over Tower Bridge. The sheer number of supporters cheering made me run a little faster. As you can guess my face lit up when I saw my family. I chatted to them for a few minutes and then they had to force me away again!! The next couple of miles were good, I was definitely running on a high having seen my family. By mile 15 however I started to struggle. My legs started to really ache, something I didn’t suffer with too much during training. The end of the race suddenly felt very far away! The worst thing is at this point was that I still had 10 miles to go which seemed ages! I walked a little but to be honest it was easier to run. The crowd was fantastic and they carried me along (I knew there was a reason for putting my name on my shirt!!)
The following 10 miles were a blur, to be honest I felt like I was in a long tunnel which I didn’t look out of, the crowds we all around shouting words of encouragement and live music was everywhere so I absorbed the atmosphere and smiled as much as possible. At mile 23 the light was at the end of the tunnel. Only 3 more miles! I refused to walk in this time as it was so close to the end. With 1km to go I looked at my watch and it was nearing the 5hr mark. I was determined to not go over 5hrs. Running past my family one last time I gave them a quick hello, before they shouted at me to not stop as I was so close to the end!
I turned in front of Buckingham Place and around the corner into the mall where to my relief I could see the end. I threw my hands in the air and smiled as I crossed the line, 26.2 miles completed!
Would I do it again? – ask me in 6 month’s time!
How much did I raise for Spinal Research? – £3120
How long did it take me to recover? – 2 days with the help of a spa – swimming and massage were key!
Should you do it – yes if you are fit and health and there is no medical reason why not, then sign up!
Finally I would like to thank each one of you for your amazing support both words of encouragement and helping me to raise money for Spinal research. I really couldn’t have done it without you!
I hope you have enjoyed following my story. If I have inspired you to run a half marathon or marathon and you need some help and advice to stay injury free then please do get in touch. You can also check out the marathon website for 2018.