London Marathon – Take Two, 2019

It’s a long time since I added anything to my marathon blog, but the time has come…

I decided post marathon to do the Vitality 10km at the end of May. I ended up not training it for it and used “marathon momentum” but really enjoyed it. I’d avoided going to physio post marathon as I thought they’d put the brakes on the 10km, so it was then time to sort myself out.

“Sorting myself out” took far longer than expected and I was only allowed to return to gentle running on 22nd October; a long time on the physio bench! Various challenges including weak glutes, a hip issue and the ongoing foot/ankle issue which needed sorting. Lots of hard work and exercises saw me more than double my calf length, strengthen my glutes and improve all round.

I realised I was missing my outings, and back in August joined a local gym doing a mixture of gym work, swimming and classes. That’s been going well, and I’d applied for the marathon ballot again. I started to consider if I’d run for charity again and decided yes, but only if it meant something to me. I feel I have unfinished business with the marathon which is what made me start about having another crack at it.

During October, my “sorry you’re not in” magazine dropped but I was offered a place by Dementia Revolution. Dementia Revolution is the official 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon charity, and is the Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK teaming together to power groundbreaking research at the UK Dementia Research Institute. With close family members affected by such a devastating disease, I accepted their place.

April really doesn’t seem too far away, so whilst I’m still only on gentle jogging as interval sessions, I’m continuing to work hard in the gym to cross train and build strength. I make sure I go at least three times a week, including two personal training sessions a week, to build up my strength and use the knowledge I learnt from 2018.

I’m excited to tackle the marathon again in 2019. I’m less nervous this time round, and I’m not concerned about some of the negativity I experienced in 2018; it’ll only spur me on.

Dedicated marathon training will commence in a few weeks but for now regular gym sessions continue ready for the challenge 28th April will bring.

If you’d like to sponsor me for the London Marathon 2019 for Dementia Revolution, you can do so here.

You can also watch a short video I’ve put together here.

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Post marathon outings

So, post marathon, where have I taken my medal out to?! It’s not something I ever thought I would do, but…

I took my medal into the office on my first day back, the Wednesday. Colleagues were so supportive of me finishing and asked to see it. A few of us went out for lunch and I decided to take it with me then, because…well why not?!

On the Saturday after the marathon, I went to Southampton v Bournemouth where I met up with my brother. As he’d helped and supported me during the marathon, I took the marathon to show him but then decided to wear it “as a lucky charm.” Due to still having bad blisters and not being able to wear anything other than flip flops, I wore my marathon Oofos too. I was on Match of the Day, but you couldn’t see the medal.

I’ve no plans to take it anywhere else and can’t believe I’ve taken it anywhere at all, but there we go! I’ve not really worn my finisher t-shirt, however after my #FinishForMatt miles on Sunday, I decided to wear it with some comfortable clothes to chill out for the rest of the day.

To view the video of my marathon experience itself, click here to go to YouTube.

Click here to sponsor me – thank you for your support!

My cost to tackle the 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon

Since sharing that I was entering the 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon, I’ve had a huge amount of support both personally and also in support of Marie Curie, who I chose to raise funds for.

Aside from the training time etc, I thought it would be interesting to work out and to share how much money I personally put into the marathon. Some items, e.g. kit, I will continue to use but some were one off costs.

Entry fee

  • £39 (via the ballot, unsuccessful – I chose to donate my fee if unsuccessful, which went to charity)
  • £50 – Marie Curie registration fee for my place

Kit

  • £120 ish – running tights, two pairs of three quarter lengths, short sleeve training top, long sleeve training top, compression socks, jacket, bum bag, cold weather headband
  • £50 – Saints shorts (to go over tights)
  • £26 – two last minute pair of tight/cycling style shorts (due to weather forecast!) to go under football shorts
  • £20 – headphones, to keep me going through those long training sessions
  • £10 – snap ice towel, to keep me cool due to the weather
  • £10 – headbands
  • £50 – Adidas trainers
  • £150 – Asics trainers (used on the day)
  • £15 – phone battery charger – heavy duty one for use on marathon day!
  • I already had one pair of Nike running trainers I used for training as well as a running water bottle, and a snood and gloves which I used.

Keepsakes (for on the day)

  • £10 – trainer tags
  • £20 – event clips (bib number holders, alternative to safety pins)

Hotel and Transportation

  • £338 – two nights at the Crowne Plaza King’s Cross on the London Marathon package (which included transport to the start)
  • £20 – car parking at the Excel Centre as I had to attend the Expo to collect my number
  • £40 – train into London pre marathon, black cab from Marylebone to hotel, black cab from finish to hotel
  • £20 – car parking for Matt in London
  • £14 – congestion charge to get to the Expo
  • £11.50 – congestion charge for the Monday in London
  • £15 – fuel, to and from Expo and back from the marathon

Food

  • £4 – marathon day breakfast (fruit and porridge)
  • £18 – pre marathon room service (pasta and garlic bread)
  • £22 – post marathon Dominos

Treatment

  • £250 – sports massages (four sessions, three different therapists due to staff changes!)
  • £149 – physio (four sessions)
  • £35 – chiropractor (one session)

Other

  • £6 – jelly babies, hot cross buns etc!
  • £5 – trialling different porridges etc!
  • £14 – Marathon teddy bear and keyring (not included in total below as not a necessary cost, just nice keepsakes)
  • Support from people – priceless!

 

Total cost – £1514.50

 

I wouldn’t change things and would do it again, but aside from the personal time, pain and effort, I hope this shows financially the commitment I personally made. There are of course things that could be done cheaper; I chose to stay in London as was travelling alone but I could have had an early start and travelled from home etc. I pursued my dream and didn’t financially plan it out in advance, but it has been a bit of a shock working out the total!

 

To view the video of my marathon experience itself, click here to go to YouTube.

Click here to sponsor me – thank you for your support!

 

 

The reality of the marathon – training, during and post marathon

My marathon journey has been an incredible one, from the moment I said yes to the offer of a place with Marie Curie. But, it hasn’t been without it’s challenges and there are some things I didn’t share along the route. Here are some of the things I’ve found hardest…

  • Adjusting to training; when I first started (with 5km distances), I’d get home and my body would go into shock. I’d be freezing cold and struggle to warm up – I really questioned what I was doing!
  • When I first started doing long sessions, I’d come home with the most agonising stomach cramps and struggled to find out or understand why… partly my body being in shock and partly hydration was the conclusion, but I’d often have to write off the rest of the day.
  • Feeling quite lonely with training – I was lucky a friend was also training (but sadly had to defer) who I could speak to. Being introduced to a marathon training group on Facebook was brilliant – I had lots of people I could speak to and share experiences with! The miles of training around Aylesbury I still found tough though, even with music, football commentary, etc.
  • Cutting out/minimising dairy intake – some aspects have been easier than others, but it has really helped my diet and overall health.
  • Birthday cake – I put my full birthday celebrations (including my cake!) on hold during training.
  • Cutting back on alcohol – not actually a hard one when you start. I’m not a big drinker normally at weekends anyway, but I definitely cut back and made different decisions.
  • The pain and the fear – some pain was just “twinges,” some were true injuries. The fear of what is this, will I make it to 22nd April, what if… really were just horrible.
  • The almost constant pain – for most of my training I was in pain even on a rest day. I got used to feeling a bit rubbish, but it was tiring.
  • Hitting the mental wall on the day – it really was like nothing I’ve experienced and was incredible but horrid all in one.
  • The pain on the day – once I realised it couldn’t get any worse I was sort of ok with it, but it took a while for my mind to realise things could not get worse.
  • The state of my feet – peeling off my socks afterwards was an unpleasant experience and over a week on they are still painful, I’ve only just moved out of flip flops and they need lots of TLC. Having not suffered with blisters in training I did during the marathon itself.
  • Toe nails – thankfully I currently have all of mine, but given the amount of pain I’m not expecting that to last…
  • Not being able to walk – I knew that I would be stiff and sore post marathon but barely being able to walk at all on Monday was a shock (and scare). I could shuffle, ish, but holding walls, my suitcase etc were all necessary.
  • Lack of sleep; I knew from others to expect pre marathon dreams, and I had a couple. But afterwards, I thought I would sleep well. I barely slept on Sunday night and Saturday night (the seventh after the marathon) is truly the first time I slept well.
  • Appetite – I thought I’d be ravenous after the marathon and was excited to order a Dominos to the hotel, but when it came to it, I had to force myself to eat and my appetite took a few days to come back.

None of the above are complaints and it was definitely all worth it, but they were things I was not perhaps aware of or that I contemplated before starting. But, I would do it all again!

To view the video of my marathon experience itself, click here to go to YouTube.

Click here to sponsor me – thank you for your support!

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No, I didn’t run a sub four hour marathon…

I’ve found this week an interesting experience in terms of most people being more concerned as to whether I finished or not, and a few asking about the time I completed the marathon in (and in some cases, surprise at it not being quicker). I shared in an earlier post that yes, I could have finished quicker, but I will always be happy I helped someone else and ensured we both got to the finish.

So, in response to “no, I didn’t run a sub four hour marathon, or hit the time I intended to,” it’s always good to remind myself of the following…

  • I went from little/no exercise to marathon finisher in a matter of months.
  • I did a 16 week training plan from scratch with 4/5 weeks off due to injury (including a week off due to a virus early in 2018).
  • I helped someone else finish who, from her thank you messages this week, doesn’t believe she would have finished if we hadn’t worked together.
  • Medically, I was told I could do the marathon but was not allowed to go for a time given I’m not fully recovered from my October (non-fault) car crash.
  • I’ve finished a marathon which only 1% of the world’s population have done.
  • I achieved something that many only dream of.
  • I ticked off something on my personal bucket list!
  • I’ve finished the London Marathon, one of the “big six” and my “home” marathon.
  • I completed the hardest physical and mental challenge of my life.
  • I raised a fantastic amount of money for Marie Curie, helping others who need support.

So, all in all, whilst the day didn’t go how I planned or expected… I’ll remind myself of the above!

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Finish for Matt / Miles for Matt

The sad passing of a London Marathon participant last weekend, Matt Campbell, has made headline news all around the country this week.

Early in the week, members of a London Marathon Facebook training group I belong to started talking about “Miles for Matt” and a separate group was set up. Since then, things really gathered momentum with VLM 2018 participants and many thousands of others vowing to “Finish for Matt” and complete the miles he didn’t manage to finish last Sunday.

Like many others, I made a donation to Matt’s Just Giving Page. Matt was tackling the marathon in memory of his father and to raise money for, and awareness of, the Brathay Trust.

This morning I put my trainers on for the first time since the marathon and went and completed my 3.7 miles in Matt’s memory. It doesn’t have to be run, I’ve seen people walking, using a cross-trainer, and many other things in Matt’s memory. At the time of writing, over £306,000 has been raised on his page so if you can, I’d please encourage you to #FinishForMatt

Click here to donate to Matt’s page, fundraising for the Brathay Trust.

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Post marathon and the comedown

What happens after crossing that finish line?

In the immediate minutes, Hilde crossed the finish line as did my Mum and the girls. I hugged lots of people, and used the railing to stretch my legs. We took some photos, and I was told where to go to collect my bag and that they hoped there would still be goodie bags. I made a couple of phone calls; Matt, my brother, my Dad, and trudged up the mall and sent other people messages. I collected my goodie bag and my kit bag, and then said goodbye and thank you to Mum who needed to get her train and goodbye to Hilde.

I sat on the steps of some monument and said to the girls let’s go for a drink, but I wanted to get my trainers off. That was an experience… having never had blisters before in training (bar one on a particularly soggy training session), I did during the marathon and peeled my socks off slowly. Helena and Sarah could see my toenails before I could and they reassured me all my toenails were intact! I struggled to remove one sock and we thought it was stuck to my foot with tape, it later turned out to be my skin and I was just peeling skin off… grim!

I put flip flops on, muttered the same thing over and over about can’t believe I’ve done it, thank you thank you, and then with Sarah and Helena taking a side each and pulling me up (sitting down was a bad move!) I staggered off towards the pub. We shared a bottle of prosecco and a couple of people asked me had I just done the marathon, well done etc, and then it was time for a cab to my hotel where Matt was waiting having driven back from Clacton.

Unfortunately, despite being assured the air con was fixed, the room was still a sauna so after a massive hug and chat with Matt I called reception who offered to move us – there was no way I could spend another night in that room and heat as it was simply stifling. Matt packed my stuff whilst I laid on the bed, and we moved rooms. I knew I needed to eat as I’d survived on porridge and jelly babies but I just wasn’t hungry. None the less I ordered Dominos, had a shower, managed a few slices and collapsed into bed.

I thought I would have the best night’s sleep of my life but I couldn’t have been more wrong, I couldn’t sleep! I tossed, I turned, it hurt. Before I knew it, it was morning and Matt went to breakfast whilst I stayed in bed before eventually getting up, washing my hair and getting ready to make a move. Walking was a real struggle and the four wheel suitcase I had with me was turning out to be a useful prop…

Matt had driven into London so could drive me home, and I said let’s get McDonald’s. We got a McDonald’s, but I didn’t eat it all and still wasn’t hungry and was a little confused. We made it home, and I collapsed on the sofa and didn’t do much – all my intentions of posting on my blog etc went out the window. The key I’m told is to keep moving but the challenge was I really couldn’t – moving was done by holding onto Matt and doing a strange sort of shuffle!

Various people called and messaged to check on me on Monday whilst I just chilled out. I was surprised I could barely move; I expected pain and stiffness but nothing like what I experienced. I also didn’t expect such a mental comedown; I was wearing my finisher’s t-shirt and medal but felt quite numb.

Thankfully, sleep last night was better (after finishing the pizza with some chips and a glass of bubbly) and I woke this morning feeling more human. Taking a couple of days off was a good move, and whilst it’s been a slow day, I’ve done everything I wanted to including going to the supermarket and the washing – an exciting day! My appetite still isn’t back but I’m told that is quite normal.

I can’t believe just over 48 hours ago I competed the London Marathon; something I never thought I’d even want to do, let alone accomplish. I don’t want it to sound a cliche, but I simply could not have done it without the support of so many people, most of whom I’ve already mentioned. You know who you are and I’ll always be grateful. I will also always be hugely appreciative of the strangers who made my experience too. It was without doubt the hardest physical and mental challenge I’ve ever put myself through but one that was undoubtably worth it, both personally and raising money for Marie Curie.

I’m very much limping/hobbling around and my body, particularly my feet, are a mess but I simply wouldn’t change it for the world. Yes, my day didn’t go to plan or how I’d expected, but I have to remind myself of the following:

  • I’m now part of a group of 1% of people in the world who have completed a marathon
  • I’ve raised money for Marie Curie, a hugely worthy cause
  • I went from doing nothing/very little exercise to finishing the London Marathon
  • I did a 16 week training plan with 4/5 weeks out through injury and illness
  • I’m the lightest and almost certainly the fittest I’ve been in years
  • If I can finish the marathon, I can do anything
  • I made it home

I’m sure many of you will have seen in the press that sadly one participant, Matt Campbell, passed away during the marathon. Like many others, this weekend I’ll be doing 3.7 miles in Matt’s memory, the distance he had left on the course. That puts things into perspective.

I’ll post a little more about my experience and thoughts later this week, but for now, thank you for reading and your support.

To view the video of my marathon experience itself, click here to go to YouTube.

Click here to sponsor me – thank you for your support!

 

Virgin Money London Marathon 2018 – my experience

Approaching the start line I realised this was it… my marathon was about to start. I needed to start my watch, but I also wanted to film the start, start jogging, wave at TV cameras and get going. I was also supposed to start Strava but I forgot about that until a few minutes in!

The first few hundred metres were fairly sparsely populated with a few people, but then we came to the end of the green and the residential area and there were people everywhere. The Greenwich Green section was funny; so many people peeled over to bushes on the left to relieve themselves I didn’t quite know where to look!

I was jogging along, a gentle but happy pace, and was just hit by this wall of noise as I hit the residential area. Then the cheers and shouts started “come on Suze, you’ve got this Suze, go on girl” and it was just overwhelming. I was thinking “is it like this all the way? What’s going on?” Lots of people and lots of children with high 5s are my memory of this section.

I felt the first few miles went really quickly and it truly was overwhelming with all the people. Tim Ski had said he’d call me en route and he did, as I was coming up to mile 1 and I confirmed yes, I really was doing the marathon!

I found a pony spectating in this section and one hill where a woman was just before the crest of the hill cheering everyone on saying “nearly there, nearly there!”My 5km time was ok and it was not too long before I reached the dual carriageway section where the red route (me) merged with the green and blue routes.

The sound of music, clapping and cheering was incredible and the people handing out water, ice cubes, ice lollies, jelly babies, Haribo, mars bars, everything was plentiful. Water provided by the organisers didn’t start until mile 3 and I’d carried a bottle from the start with me, and whilst I believe in “nothing new on marathon day” I did eat 20% of an ice lolly offered as it was hot!

I knew that friends and colleagues (Jen, Sarah, Helena) were waiting at mile 6 and Jen called me to check where I was. In typical Jen style her description and directions were interesting; being at mile six and on the right hand side “after a bend near Costa” turned out to be on my left hand side, by Costa but nearly at mile 7! By this point I’d passed the Cutty Sark (overtaking someone round the outside…) and had a text and video from my brother to say I’d been on TV. To see the girls was great and just along on the same straight I found my Mum and the Marie Curie cheer station which was more encouragement. I’d texted Mum asking for a safety pin as one of my event clips had come loose and I was patched up and carried on.

By this point I was feeling hot and had got out my special towel (more a thin strip of material) which someone had advised in the London Marathon Training Support group on Facebook was good. When wet, it stays ice cold and I was using that to keep cool, but I felt ok. The miles were becoming slightly longer but I was happy with how things were going, until mile 9…

The number 9 is my lucky number, but I got to mile 9 and found they had run out of water. They promised there was more at mile 10. I got to mile 10, and no water; I’d been taking (and drinking) water at each station and saving a mouthful until I could pick up my next bottle, but by this point I was out of water. I forgot about the towel, I needed water just to fuel myself.

It was around this point I hit “the wall.” I know what the wall is; it’s my head going, telling me I cannot do it, and it’s mind over matter. I’d hit it once in training and knew it was hell, but this was the worst ever. I felt sick, I felt faint, I felt I couldn’t go on. I wanted to quit. I felt ashamed, a felt embarassed, I felt foolish, I felt useless. I didn’t know what to do. I texted my brother, Mark. Jen called to tell me where they would be next. I told her I couldn’t do it and in typical Jen fashion she said “oh it’s only pain.” She told me to get on with it and they’d see me at mile 12. I didn’t believe I could keep going, I had broken mentally. I can’t describe it any better, but I was gone, I’d lost my mind, I wanted out. I tried a few jelly babies, cried and carried on.

Not that far on from here someone offered me chilled water. I took it, took a gulp and found it was alcohol. I chucked it. I was angry, hot and tired. The next person to offer me water was questioned “is this really water?” and they said “but of course!” From then on I accepted water from strangers; I wasn’t to know it but I wasn’t to get any water from the course from miles 9 to 16. I will never know who helped me on Sunday, but I cannot say thank you enough. People were filling up bottles to give to us, children were offering to squirt us with water, people had bowls of ice cubes, hosepipes out offering to squirt us, cups of water we could sip on and pass on, jugs to refill our bottles; they stood there with suncream yelling as we approached “do you need suncream?!” and would then smother us and tell us how proud they were. The love and kindness of strangers will stay with me forever.

The route kept going through residential areas with pubs and music and more shouting and encouragement. I have to be honest and say from mile 10 ish when I broke to mile 12 at Tower Bridge, I majorly struggled. My brother Mark kept texting me “just following this long left hander you’ll be at the bridge” and so on. The seven hour pacer passed me. I stopped at one point near a Frankie and Benny’s to stretch my hip as they’d both gone (a problem from training…); my left hip popped (and the pain went!), my right didn’t change and grated with every step.

Somewhere in this section, I realised the physical and mental pain simply couldn’t be any worse than I was experiencing. I had two choices; to quit or to get on with it. I thought about why I was doing this, who I was doing this for, the financial support and sponsorship for Marie Curie and an email I’d received the week before the marathon from Simon Rowan. I kept going.

At mile 12 (ish) was Tower Bridge. The girls told me they were there, but I was almost over the bridge and couldn’t see them. I called one of them in a panic and I found they were just after the bridge. I saw them, we hugged, and I set off again crying. Then I turned the corner, and I can’t have gone that far. I remember thinking I’m nearly at mile 13 and Fi (Fiona Duncan) said she’d be there. I kept going and couldn’t see her. I thought she must have gone. Then suddenly I saw a green party and there she was, green Macmillan t-shirt, wig and all. I’m sure I screamed and she came running towards me shouting “I know I’m not supposed to be on the course but I’m so proud of you!” and I just burst into tears whilst she held me and I properly sobbed. She was telling me how proud she was of me whilst I just sobbed uncontrollably (I’m crying again just writing this!). I gave her Mum a quick hug, shook her boyfriend Wayne’s hand (I hadn’t met him before so thought he wouldn’t want a sweaty hug) and off I went again…

This section to start with was really good, because people 10 ish miles ahead were coming back down the other side of the street and they were shouting encouragement and my name. Then the streets became narrow, lorries were coming down to squash the bottles, I was on the pavement because the seven hour pacer had passed me. I felt so alone. I was weaving through people on the pavement, trying to focus on my Mum being at mile 18 but thinking how far away that was. I was trying to tell myself before I knew it I would be going down the other side of the road like other people and trying to work out how long before I was back at Tower Bridge…

Again, this section becomes a blur and somewhere in here I slowed down a bit and was asked by a woman also participating “are you ok Suze?” I said “yes, but there’s a wall there and I just want to sit down.” She said “we can’t sit down, we’ll never get up again, come on!” and off we continued. There was a really enthusiastic marshal around here near a hill, we kept passing stations and I thought can I just get on a train, nope must keep going. We were joined by a gentleman called Jake, we said hello, and kept going; left, right, left, right. I said to this woman (who by now I knew as Hilde) that my Mum would be at mile 18 and then (after what felt like forever) there she was, sat on a wall waiting and I waved and sped up.

It was somewhere in this Canary Wharf section that I started to see people with medals on walking back to hotels etc. I said well done to them, they said are you still going? Well done, keep going! And on it went. Mum said she would walk with us for a bit, and we got to mile 19. From here on in, it started to get harder to find the course; the mile markers were being removed, bottles were being swept etc. I felt disgusting by this point; the bottles being collected was horrible as they were squashed by lorries meaning flying obstacles (literally) and if a lorry did this at a lucozade station…well I won’t drink the stuff anyway, being covered in it and then attracting the odd wasp wasn’t pleasant. I thought about how it was my fault and my pace had slowed a little and things were unravelling, but I was still on to finish within cut off. People were messaging and being supportive but I couldn’t look at my phone; I felt I’d reached “survival mode.”

I asked Mum to text Matt (my husband) and my brother just to say I was ok, and then at about mile 19 Hilde said she wanted to stop. I told her no, we were getting to that finish, and from then on we held hands; only letting go to wipe the sweat from them every so often. The girls had called a few times and I knew they were at mile 23, I gave them my best estimate of time and told them to have a G&T or two and I’d be there when I could. We kept walking and walking, there were two gentleman and we talked about whether we should sing or what we should do to keep going. We learnt a little Bollywood dancing from one of them, Dipak. I moved my hips like he said, I learnt some arm movements. We exchanged greetings with people still sat in deckchairs drinking having been sat out all day. We had a heart to heart about why Hilde and I were each doing the marathon and what it meant. And Mum stayed with us, and said she wanted to be with us to the finish.

We reached mile 23 and the girls, and they said they’d walk with us to the end. We passed Tower Bridge and kept going, until we reached a tunnel and were told to take the Thames Path to Big Ben. In the middle of this, we found stairs – what a killer after that distance! I started adapting and singing football songs to keep myself going. Somewhere just before this my calf had “gone” and I gave in and took painkillers (something I hate doing!) and the singing was distracting myself, and I had reached the point that I didn’t care whether others enjoyed it or not.

Finally we reached Big Ben and turned right, and endured major crowd dodging on the pavements. My brother had called to check on me and had sent me a map to the finish as I’d said finding the route was getting harder. He’d also sent a long motivational text which I’d read to everyone (and cried again!). The course closing car had stopped and checked on us and stopped to check on us again, we told him we were getting to that finish line.

Finally, we could see Buckingham Palace. I tried to go onto the mall itself and asked two marshals if I could but they didn’t hear me/ignored me and walked off so me being me I decided to go under the barrier tape. I started off up the mall only for another official to start shouting “no you cannot go up there, it’s a construction site, you must come on the path!” so I went back on myself slightly and onto the path. I told Hilde (we were still holding hands!) that I wanted to run the end and tried to encourage her to join me. She told me to go for it on my own, she wasn’t running!

The phrase “finish line not finish time” is true and whilst I wished I could have finished on the mall, the fact Hilde and I made it together and worked as a team (with the huge support of many others including Mum, Jen, Sarah, Helena in person, lots of people via messages during the event, my brother’s texts, my Dad’s call 385 yards out which went something like “sod off I’m nearly at the finish I’ll call you later” and Riny and Martin’s motivational “nearly there video”) was something special.

And then, after all those miles and hours, I could see the finish line. I started jogging. I dodged people. I tried to open my legs up and run as fast as I could to that finish. Someone shouted my name. And then that was it, people were hugging me, a medal was put around my neck, and I finished the London Marathon.

To try and sum up some of my day, I’ve put a video together. It includes images and videos from the day, being overtaken by a minion, the spectating pony and more.

To view the video click here to go to YouTube.

Click here to sponsor me – thank you for your support!

A few images from my marathon:

 

Before the marathon – between my last test run and the actual start

I thought I’d split my marathon weekend into three posts; pre marathon, the marathon itself, and post marathon. So much happened and some of it seems a complete and utter blur. It’s all been a bit overwhelming and having intended to sit down and post yesterday, I didn’t do a thing.

So, from my test run on Friday night to the start… Saturday morning started fairly early saying goodbye to Matt who was off to be Chief Marshal for the Corbeau Seats Rally in Clacton. I found it hard saying goodbye to him but I knew he’d be at my hotel on Sunday night, there was just quite a big challenge between saying goodbye and saying hello again!

I got the train into London in the early evening. My plan had been to go in earlier and watch the full FA Cup semi-final but I had lots I’d wanted to get done at home too. I’d written packing lists and a to do list; I wanted everything to be as ready as possible with my kit bag (for the lorry and for post marathon), my marathon (bum) bag, my suitcase etc. I got into London and the first thing I found was the Southampton FC coach, before I jumped into a cab to the Crowne Plaza at King’s Cross.

I’d decided to stay in London as I thought it would be easiest, but it wasn’t the best stay (broken jacuzzi which was my pre-marathon relaxation plan, broken air con in my room and a window which didn’t open, broken kettle in my room, oddities with room service etc). They were full and I couldn’t move rooms so having spent the day ensuring I was properly hydrated, I woke up dehydrated on the day of the marathon. I’d taped my foot the way the physio showed me and could only hope it would last. I’d taken my own porridge pot, banana and raspberries for breakfast to ensure I was ready only to find the kettle didn’t work and it took half an hour for a replacement, making the morning a little more manic than planned!

The coach pick up was 0715 so I was downstairs just after 0700 and before I knew it I was on the coach heading to Greenwich. I was slowly eating my porridge on the way and chatted to a couple of other ladies on the coach. We were off-loaded and I walked with a lady called Katie to the start, including going through an arch made for us by strangers! Once in the start area we sat down, applied vaseline and sun cream, chilled out, dropped baggage at the baggage lorries, had our last pre-marathon toilet visit and then watched what was happening on the big screen. Then it was time to head to pen 8…

It felt like ages waiting in the pen to get going. Someone had hired an aeroplane with a banner behind it saying “Jesus Loves You” and just in front was a man with a karaoke machine which was a great singalong session to chill out. Only Jennifer Carty could call me whilst I was in the start pen from an unknown/un-recognised number and say “do you know who this is?” freaking me out before the call cut out…but eventually she texted me telling me who it was.

I sung the national anthem and then it was then time to start the shuffle forward, and forward, and forward… my marathon was about to begin!

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Visiting the Marathon Expo and the final (full kit!) run

So, this is it. The time is almost here!

Thursday evening saw me head straight from work to the London Marathon Expo at the Excel Centre. Every participant has to collect their number which was the first thing I did before having a quick look around (I only had 40 minutes between arriving and the Expo closing). I looked (and failed) for long shorts, picked up my number, goodie bag and a few other goodies, bought a couple of mementos and visited the Marie Curie stand. Getting there from the office meant driving through central London so seeing the road closure signs and various mile/km markers brought things home.

I managed to leave a message on the marathon wall as well, but ran out of time for a massage and to truly linger. It was however a great experience to visit and has made it seem so much more…real!

With the hot weather forecast, my original plan of running tights with shorts over them has been scrapped. I managed to get some knee length tight (cycling style) shorts today to go under my football shorts so, having my numbers and things as well, I wanted to do a full kit short run.

I only did 1km as I have done nothing during this tapering period (as I was advised after injury and having pushed back my last long run) but it was good to get out there. I was also trying a sun visor for the first time, had ironed my name on my shirt, used my kit/bum bag and had my number fastened to me as well as the new shorts. You can see in the below images I’ve had a few personalised things made up such as trainer tags and number holders too which I tried out.

The session was very short and sweet and felt good but the thing that really got me was a car full of women stopping next to me and cheering yelling “Go Girl!” What on earth is it going to be like on Sunday?!

For all the sponsorship, hugs, words of encouragement, everything… it really is a little overwhelming and I am so grateful. Now there’s just the little thing of 26.2 miles around London! It’s pasta and water from here on in…

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