I have been thinking about writing this post now for 2 days, and I am sitting here slightly sad that I am writing it, as it means its all done and dusted! I have completed a marathon, I am a marathoner, I took part in the Virgin Money London Marathon 2014, IT WAS AWESOME!!
Before I even took part, I knew I would want to do it again, but thought, lets wait till after and see how I feel then. Well, I STILL want to do it again! It is going to be hard to put in to words how much I loved it.
Being part of #TeamMND, had a lot to do with how much I loved it! If I hadn’t shared it with these amazing people I know I wouldn’t have enjoyed it quite as much as I did. We had decided to meet up before the start, and as I aimlessly strolled around, trying to spot people, some of whom I had only met online, I was quickly put as ease when a fellow runner flashed her MND vest at me! It was great to finally meet the people that had helped me, supported me and shared my training journey to the marathon.
On the way to meeting, I did wonder if it would be weird meeting total strangers, but once there, it felt like they had been my friends forever! We were in different starts so we had our photograph taken, wished each other luck and made our way to the start.
Considering there were so many people taking part, the start was exceptionally smooth and stress-free. The queue for the toilets were reasonable – I’ve had to wait far longer in smaller races. Handing over your baggage was easy, and the volunteers even checked to ensure you had everything before taking the bags. I was due to be in start 6, but many of the other MND runners were in 8. I decided to move back 1) so I could be with them and 2) I really did not want to get caught up with fast paced runners and start too quickly. We only had a 10/15 min wait in the pens before we started to move.
Thirteen minutes after the official start, we were across the start line and actually running the London Marathon. I ran with Lauren for the first 6 miles and I do not know how many times I said to her ‘We are actually running the London Marathon!’ Right from the start, the crowds were amazing and so many people shouted my name. The first 6 miles went really quickly, as myself and Lauren purposely reined in our pace and chatted away. There were obviously lots of people running, but at no point did it feel congested or frustrating. or even that I couldn’t run my own race. There were always things to look at, as we passed Elmo, the Jamaican Bobsleigh Team and other crazy fancy dress runners.
Around mile 7, i felt our pace drop, and even though I really didn’t want to leave Lauren, I was desperate to get a sub 5 hour time. We said our goodbyes, and I pushed on. The next few miles passed, and i was so shocked when I turned a corner, to see Tower Bridge. The noise was immense, and I tired to relax and enjoy it. But even trying to recall it now, it feels so surreal. I looked out for the BBC cameras as I know thats where they filmed sometimes, but I didn’t see anyone. I was also aware that the mens race would now be over, and I desperately wanted to know how Mo had got on. I asked a marshall, but she had no idea. We passed the Tower of London, again the support here was so loud! Next there was a section where we could see all the faster runners. I plodded along, kind of forgetting I was running, just looking to see if I could spot anyone I knew in the faster section. I did spot one of my fellow MND runners, and shouted across to him!
My family had said that they would try to be around mile 7, and when I hand’t seen them, I called them. They said they were at mile 17, so this was my next focus point. It was so busy I was scared that I was going to miss them, but I spotted my mum and made my way to them. I stopped for hugs and I could feel that my legs were a little unsteady. My daughter gave me the biggest cuddle, and when it was time to head off again, she cried. She wanted to run with me! I held her hand and ran a metre with her, then turned back and returned her to my husband. Seeing my family was a real boost, but I was also emotional as I left them.
I knew mentally I was going to struggle as I got to 19 miles, as this was the longest that I had EVER ran. As i was running around Canary Wharf, I started to think about a friend of mine, who’s mother died only a few months ago. I decided to dedicate that next mile to her. Thank you Gill, for getting my through that mile! I also found the sections before Canary Wharf really busy and lots of runners were walking, so at times it was frustrating as you had to slow down, even when you didn’t want too!
Approaching mile 21, I knew that the MND cheer point was going to be there and my family said that they would head there too. The noise at mile 21 was unbelievable, and seeing the MNDA banners and I caught a glimpse of my niece and sister again gave me a big boost to keep going, but I knew that it wasn’t going to be long before I needed a walk break. I think this came around mile 22. I was scared to stop – what if a couldn’t get my legs going again! A girl ran past with ‘She believed that she could, so she did!’ Written on the back of her t-shirt. That, and the words ‘dig deep’ Got me going again!
My legs were getting tired and I knew I was a little ahead of time, so I decided to walk through the tunnel at mile 23. It was nice to get some more drink inside me, and to be out of the hot sun. I told myself, that after the tunnel I wasn’t allowed to walk anymore, but I did take one more.
The embankment was full of support and I heard the scream of my name. I turned to see one of my best friends from school shouting! I knew she was there supporting her husband, but to hear her shout and be able to wave back was amazing. Past mile 25, I saw Tony, another MND runner who I had started with. I had a quick chat, but told him I was desperate to sneak under 5 hours, so had to go. I turned at Big Ben, and I had run this route in the London 10K and Royal Parks Half marathon, but the journey to The Mall seemed to go on and on. I just wanted it to be over.
I thought I would be really emotional when finishing, but I don’t think I could quite believe that I had done it!
Finding my family was a nightmare – they had text me to tell me to meet them near the London eye – Could i work out how to get there!! I remember ringing and saying, can someone come and get me. They asked where I was, and I replied ‘I don’t know!’ Haha My brain was just mush – I couldn’t process much, but did finally meet up with them an hour or so after I finished.
I still didn’t know my time, so when my sister told me I did it sub 5, i cried. My official time was 4:57:06!
My name will definitely be in the ballot come the 22nd April, but I know how hard it was to get this place, so i need to think of some amazing ways to raise money, so that I can have a charity place!
How amazing it must be to be fast enough to have a Good For Age place each year!!