Monday, 22 April 2013

The big run

So the London Marathon has been and gone for another year! A time when mental people run, walk, crawl 26.2 miles in aid of charities, personal challenges and breaking records. One day where the people of London come and support complete strangers and cheer them on. Very UN-British but so amazing.

I ran the London Marathon back in 2011 and I remember exactly how I felt in the lead up and on the day. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done - and that is no exaggeration - but on the back of that it was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done and the proudest I have ever felt of myself.
I am not sure why I originally decided I was going to sign up to run the marathon and I didn't really think too much about it when I did. I signed up for the public ballot and also with a local charity; The Whitelodge centre. Both of them did a draw to choose winners in November. I remember getting a call from my sister after the ballot draw saying I had a letter through the post so I must have a space...but after a few very nervous minutes we realised it was actually a letter to say I hadn’t got a space. I was sort of disappointed and happy all at the same time. But about half hour later I had an email from my charity saying I was in to run for them. Dun Dun Dunnnnnnnn, I had to do this.

You don’t need to start training until January but I started with a few light runs in November as I had only ran 10km before so I knew I needed to work hard. Thinking back now the training was great as each time I went out, I hit a new target.  And even when it was really tough and the weather was awful I still managed to do every run I planned to do all the way up to 21 miles. I got ill in the weeks before the big day so I couldn’t wind down as much as I wanted to but I wasn’t too worried as in my mind I knew if I could get to 21 miles I could do 26!
I remember the night before the marathon we stayed with friends of ours in London, had a big dinner and went to bed early. Surprisingly I slept which I really didn’t think would happen. The morning of the run I managed to eat some porridge and eggs on toast but had to force them down. The nerves were kicking in but I was trying my hardest to ignore them.
When we got the entrance Dan had to leave me and that is when I almost fell apart. I realised that not only was I doing this for the first time but I was doing it alone. I hadn’t really prepared myself at all for that.
I felt so lost in what felt like a big pen for all charity runners. One thing that cheered me up for at least 15 minutes was the hilarious and ridiculous bathroom mistake I made. I joined a queue for the loo and it was long. But there were these things called ‘she wees’ all stacked to the side for people to go into. I copied everyone else and took one having no idea what they were for. I walked into this square opening with females all lined up against urinals! Just a row of clenched strangers bums...had to really stop myself laughing as I realised I had gone into the ‘female urinals’ and not the ladies loos which were the other side of the field!

Anyway, as we all lined up to start the race I got chatting to another girl who was also running alone for charity and we decided to stick together and help each other through. It was a brilliant idea and everything started so well; it was a nice sunny day, there were loads of people cheering for us and it was just awesome. I saw family along the way at about 7 miles, 11 miles onwards but as we crossed 11 miles I realised that I was running far too slow and had a panic, sped up, lost my running partner and did the next mile really quickly. I realised at 12 miles that I had completely read the times wrong and because of that I had worn myself out. The next 14.2 miles was horrendous. It must have been awful for my family to see as every time I saw someone I knew, I just fell apart crying. At about 24 miles I saw the Robbs and Simon (my brother in law) started running with me and telling me to think of Ellie Goulding. He was amazing and spurred me on that little bit more.

When I saw the finish line it was such a relief and as I got closer I just sprinted for it. I wanted the finish to make up for how slow I had been for the rest of it. Annoyingly though, no one was at the finish to see me do the sprint and I am sure I looked a lot slower than I felt :)

I did it in 5hrs and 16 minutes. 16 minutes longer than I wanted but I don’t care, I finished it! It was such a hot day that we had people faint and having fits so it really wasn’t the best conditions but through the whole thing I didn’t stop running. That is all I wanted in the end. I really wanted to say I ‘ran’ the whole time and I did. Just to be clear, when I say ‘ran’ I really mean a very slow don’t have people saying ‘I jogged the London Marathon’ but in reality that is what most of us do – we aren’t Olympians after all!

I remember crossing the finish line and it being such an anticlimax! There wasn’t really anyone around. You get given your medal and ushered over to the photographers for your official finishing photo and then over to find your bags. So for about 10 minutes after I finished I was just wondering around alone. Eventually I saw Dan waiting for me and I completely fell apart. It is such an emotional day and such a strain on your body that everything is heightened. I saw my mum and sister and my friends Lucy and Sarah and was so happy that they came to support me - it meant so much! I stupidly didn’t stretch when I finished though so when we left my body had seized up and I had to be carried down to the tube! Quite funny when I think about it now but at the time it was painful.

In the end I hated the marathon; it was hard, painful and a complete strain. But I have never hated saying I ran it and I have never been prouder of myself for carrying on when I could have easily stopped and given up.

Watching all the runners on Sunday makes me want to do it again and I never ever thought I would say that. But even though I hated it, there is nothing like that feeling of achievement after you have completed it.

Congratulations to all the runners, I hope today you are giving yourself a much deserved rest!