Monday, 22 April 2013

I am a Marathon Finisher!

Yesterday I completed the 33rd London Marathon. I am a Marathon finisher. My body is capable of covering 26.2 miles by hook or by crook and I'm a little bit proud of that. I don't feel quite right saying I'm a marathon runner because I didn't run the entire thing, but I sure as hell earnt that medal!

I drove up to my parent's on the Friday night and went to the Expo with my mum on the Saturday morning to collect my race number and have a nosey round. The less said about the DLR the better... Anyway I lusted over kit (that they didn't have in my size), samples countless energy bars, stocked up on a few bits and bobs and claimed my goody bag. A happy morning indeed.
At the Expo - this just got real!
Amazingly I slept right through on Saturday night. None of the usual pre-race nerves were evident. I'd eaten a good meal of pasta followed by my mum's amazing apple cake and custard, watched three quarters of Chariots of Fire, and laid out all my kit for the morning. I guess I was looking forward to it so much I had a clear conscience!
Before the start...
Mum came with me to the start before going to meet dad and my Aunt at the first cheering point so I wasn't on my own. It was a gorgeous day. I was in good time for the start, no queues for the loos (turns out I'm not ready for female urinals yet), baggage on the truck in good time. It all felt incredibly chilled out! The 30 second silence to pay respects to Boston was a little spine tingling and then we were off... sort of. It took me 25 minutes to get to the start line but I enjoyed hearing the announcer commenting on the fancy dress costumes. I was then able to calculate how much time I'd made up when I passed them on the course!

I wasn't prepared for just how many people were lining the course. It was just incredible. Bands, charities, people in their front gardens, outside pubs, just everywhere, all cheering us on, shouting our names and handing out jelly babies, jelly beans, orange wedges, banana, biscuits and in one case cocktail sausages and cheese sandwiches.

I saw my cheering party at miles 3, 15, 20 and 25 and saw my mate Brett at mile 10, which certainly helped time go by. Actually the miles felt as though tthey just flew past, with water stations, lucozade stations, mile markers, kilometer markers... so much to look at and take in. My running club had a cheering station and I loved the noise coming from the Run Dem London crew. I had a huge grin on my face the entire time despite welling up fairly frequently; it was all a little overwhelming.

As it was such a hot day there were several very welcome shower stations en route and I thought the fuel and water stations were very well staffed and organised. In fact I don't think there was a single element of the organisation I could fault!

I ran all the way until mile 18 and then I started to ache. It just got worse and worse to the point I couldn't run any more so I slowed to a walk. I'd been on track for a 5 hour finish until then and thought I'd still make 5.5 if I kept up a 15 minute mile; do-able, I thought. Nu-uh. Mile 22 was bleak. I felt as though I had to keep stopping to sit or rest or stretch or do something, anything. I got so much support from the crowd, other runners who walked with me, and then the St John's who got the heads up about me from a fellow runner. I was given a foil blanket, they dealt with my tears (I was terrified I wouldn't be able to finish) and spent 5 minutes trying to find my pulse! I felt a bit better then and with 2 miles to go I set off, feeling pretty dire but with renewed determination to finish. And I got there. I may have walked and I may have take 6 hours but I crossed that line and it felt amazing.

My split times.
I did everything right, I couldn't have done anything more, and I am not upset with my time. I may still feel in awe of people who finished in under 5 hours but, hey, I was in a whole new arena after the 18 mile mark. I felt so emotional when I saw my family again.

You can see the tears on their way.
Never worked so hard for an ice cream!
The orgainisation at the finish was great, they got our tags off swiftly and it was sparse enough by the time I came through that the baggage guys could see you coming and have your bag all ready for you. Meeting up with everyone afterwards was a cinch too, apart from the seemingly long walk. And the train journey home was fun, chatting with other finishers, catching up on all my messages from friends and supporters. We all went out for a lovely meal, after a glass of bubbly, and the aches aren't *too* bad today. A massage has certainly helped. Another early night is calling.
Proud Aunty
It's a strong contender for the best day of my life. I'll never forget it and I'm really proud of what I've achieved. Thank you to everyone who has helped me get to this point, all the supporters in all your forms, the friends, family and mentors. I could not have done it without you.

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