I’m not really sure where to start with this blog, which is odd as all the others have come so easily. I’m not sure why I’m finding it so hard, I guess because it’s ‘the big one!’
Sunday morning started VERY early! I was up at 5am to make sure I was ready & at the leisure centre for the coach leaving at 6am. I hadn’t slept particularly well, despite being tired when I went to bed at 10, I finally got to sleep at about 11.30! I got to the leisure centre and the coach was already filling up. The coach was put on by a local running club, but I’m not a member and so I didn’t know anyone. I made my way on to the coach and was relieved to find there was a double seat left so I didn’t have to sit by anyone & make polite conversation!!! (Rude and grumpy I know, but I was feeling nervous and it wasn’t the time to be meeting new people!) In all honesty I was hoping I’d sleep most of the way there as I was still pretty tired. I did manage to doze most of the way there, but I wouldn’t say I slept! I’m fairly certain I didn’t as I could hear the annoying men in front of me talking the whole time. They had clearly run a lot of marathons and their annoying comments were not helping my nerves. As we got closer they were moaning about the driver and the route he was taking. I think he probably did make a wrong turn as we ended up on some of the route, but we got there and that’s all that matters! I was also very surprised to see people already out with banners when it wasn’t even 7.30am!!
Getting off the coach I felt physically sick. I wasn’t sure if this was due to the heat on the coach or whether it was nerves. I was also highly emotional at this point and worried if anyone spoke to me I would burst in to tears. I messaged Karen and Laura to let them know, hoping this would help! It did as they were feeling exactly the same!
It was pretty empty and in all honesty I had no idea where to go! I followed some of the other runners off the coach, but soon decided they weren’t heading the right way. When I asked a steward how to get to the red start sure enough I was right and had been heading the wrong way! I turned round and started what was to be a long walk to the red start!
By the time I got to the red start Karen had called to say she’d arrived, so I then spent time trying to find her! We finally met up and wandered around trying to find the Asthma UK photo spot. This turned out to be at the bottom of a large hill, I think I may have moaned about this given we were going to be running a marathon afterwards!!! By the time I actually started I’d already walked 7.5K steps!!
We made our way to the start line and messaged Laura with a quick selfie of us. I was obviously my usual snap happy self and took pictures of lots of things! My phone was constantly going with messages from friends wishing me good luck, annoyingly I was struggling to respond to the messages, I guess due to the busy phone signals. It was lovely to have them coming through though. 🙂 My sister had also text me to say that she, my parents and 2 of her children were not far from mile 12 and I still wasn’t over the start line! I decided at this point that I wasn’t going to put my phone in my running belt as normal as I wanted to be able to get pictures and not have to waste time getting my phone in and out!! There was an excited countdown at 10am along with some cheers and then we took about 30 minutes to get to the start line!! I waved a lot at cameras, hoping I might get on TV but no such luck I believe!!
As Karen said when we went over the start line we stayed together for some time. I wasn’t sure whether to walk when I got to 5 minutes, as it wouldn’t be any slower! But Karen suggested I should stick with my plan and I figured I would be using my muscles differently so it was probably a good idea.
The atmosphere was just fab and I was singing along with the music from one of the pacers. I actually videoed it, but I’m not sure I should inflict the pain of my singing on you all!! I continued to take photos of everything…people in strange costumes, signs that made me laugh, or amazing older runners who had done lots of marathons!
I think I had a permanent smile on my face till about mile 13! In fact at one point I did think people must have thought I looked a bit special running along smiling to myself!!! The noise from the crowds as we got to the Cutty Sark was just unbelievable. In fact it was so amazing it made me quite emotional, which then made it hard to breath! I realised I needed to try to keep a lid on my emotions otherwise I could end up having some sort of breathing issue …. not the best when running for Asthma UK! I’ve taken photos of the crowds but they just don’t do it justice at all, so I haven’t bothered to include them! (I have also tried to limit the photos in here as there could have been loads!!!) I also realised that in all the excitement I kept forgetting to walk for a minute every 5, so I think my splits were a bit odd the whole way through.
Coming up to mile 12 I knew I would see family and friends and I was so excited!! Asthma UK had a cheer point there, which is where they were due to be stood, so I was looking for the purple flags. It turns out a lot of charities have purple as their colour, so it’s not that easy to spot!!!
I noticed Lesley & Elaine, friends from work, first and pretty much threw myself at them!! I wasn’t sure they were definitely going to make it, so it was lovely to see them. I then heard Lotte being shouted very loudly and noticed some other friends on the opposite side of the road. I ran across the road and threw myself at them. Afterwards Julie said she was surprised I didn’t take anyone out the way I darted across without a care in the world for all the other runners!! I then ran back across the road to Tim, the kids, my Mum & Dad, sister & 2 of her children. On the way I heard more shouts of Charlotte & saw Karen’s husband and son. Steve was also greeted with a large hug!! On Madi’s video of me you hear my sister commenting about me hugging more people on my way to them!! It was then on for hugs from my family. It was so lovely to see them all and receive a little boost from them. I didn’t stop for long though and was waved on my way. After I’d gone past I realised I hadn’t taken a photo with them, but thought I’d do it next time! Instead I would forget nearly every time I saw anyone!! Mile 12 was pretty amazing for me, seeing all those people in such a short space of time. I was grinning from ear to ear!
It was then on to Tower Bridge. Again this was just so surreal. The noise, the people, the fact I was in the middle of the London Marathon! I stopped to get a number of photos!
All was still good at this point and as I passed the half way point there was a band playing and I had a little sing along with them. The lead singer clearly appreciated this and gave me a little shout out!!
However from about mile 14 I began to struggle a bit. The crowds really thinned out and my big toes began to hurt. My left one was particularly bad and I was convinced it was pouring with blood. (When I finished and took my trainers off this was not the case at all!!) I think as the support was less it meant I was concentrating on the pain in my feet and this really didn’t help. I was also frustrated with the pain, as I’d not had any trouble in training. (With hindsight I’m blaming Karen!!! At the start I commented that my trainers felt a little loose and I thought I should tighten them. She reminded me that my feet would swell and so I decided against it. I have no idea if this is the reason but I’m going with it!!!)
Coming into Canary Wharf the crowds were amazing again and I was still smiling, but I was struggling and really looking forward to getting to mile 20 and seeing family and friends again. From mile 20 – 23 there were people dotted along, rather than grouped together, which was great. Mum, Dad, Libby and her kids were first. When I saw them I seemed to revert to a child and said something along the lines of ‘Mum it’s really hard!’ She told me I was doing well and jollied me along! I’d had a message flash up on my phone from my cousin so I knew she was coming up too! She gave me a big hug and told me how well I was doing. Then it was a smile and a wave with Lesley, before seeing Trev, Julie, Charlie, Liz, Darran and Sam a little further on. At about mile 23 I heard my name again, it wasn’t unusual as everyone was saying it, however I tried my best to give those people a smile. As I did I realised it was Nick, a guy from work. His wife was running and he’d said he’d look out for Karen and I, but I have to admit I’d thought it was unlikely he’d see us!! He was also on the receiving end of one of my sweaty hugs!! All the familiar faces and support really helped and before I knew it I was at mile 24….just over 2 to go….the end was in sight and I wasn’t feeling completely dead!! At this point I actually realised I could run a little faster as I wasn’t in pain, but was just going at the same pace as everyone around me, although I had also changed my run walk ratio from 5:1 to 4:1 which had probably helped.
Mile 25 there was more family….they really did an amazing job of getting from one cheer point to the next before me. I understand it was somewhat stressful at times, and even resulted in blisters for some of them!! But they soldiered on and I wasn’t aware of their suffering until after the event, as they were so enthusiastic with their cheering! I finally remembered to get a picture with them & it is a fab one. However I’m a little disappointed I didn’t get one with Tim and the kids, or any of my other friends that came for the day.
The crowds were amazing, as they had been the whole way, but it was pretty special knowing I was getting close to Buckingham Palace and the finish line! As I got to Buckingham Palace & the Queen Victoria statue I stopped to take a selfie. (Annoyingly it’s not that great!) A man looked at me and said why are you stopping, the end is just there? My response was, I may never do this again and I want to remember it.
Running down The Mall I was scouring the Grandstand for Tim and the kids, despite their loud cheering it took a while! Tim, who I always moan at for his photo skills, took a fab photo of my going past. Still smiling and feeling euphoric!
As I came over the line and received my medal I thought I just want to hug someone I know. So it was amazing that standing in front of me was Fiona from work! She has run the marathon many times, but was volunteering this year. I knew she would be there, but with the number of volunteers I didn’t expect to see her. It was just fab to throw my arms around someone I knew and have a happy cry!!
I went and collected my bag and then wandered up to the Asthma UK reception. None of my family or friends were there so I had a massage first. I don’t think the poor young girls knew what to do when I just whipped my leggings down so they could get to my legs! I had pants on but it still seemed to shock them! After that it was lots of chatting and smiling with all my friends and family. To be honest it’s all a bit of a blur as I think I was a bit all over the place!! So much so I didn’t even think to get an ‘after’ shot with Karen!
Everyone finally left the reception and those of us heading back to Fleet wandered off together, with me moaning that people were no longer chanting my name as I went past!!! I was wrapped in the flag Liz had written my name on, looking like I had won the marathon rather than finished in 5 hours 21 minutes!!!! But as my sister has since said, ‘I won my marathon!!’
I had the most fabulous day. So much so I’m not sure I can do it justice here! The noise, the crowds, the support from family and friends, the sights, the atmosphere….everything! It was hard work at times, but it was totally worth it.