Tuesday 25 April 2017

The Journey's End

Six months ago, Children with Cancer UK offered me a place to run for them in the London Marathon. I have been charting the highs and lows of training over the long winter months, so it seemed only fitting to round off this blog with a final post about the big day.

So here we go; the last entry to complete an epic adventure by a working Mum who only took up running a few years ago.....

Sarah and I met at Ebbsfleet ready to catch the 7:05am train to Stratford and then the DLR to Greenwich. As is the way of these things, the 7:05 didn't arrive, which was a shame as it meant that Sarah missed photos with the rest of the Prostate Cancer UK runners, but we still had time built in to spare - it was annoying but no great disaster, and most of the people waiting for trains were fellow runners and the sense of camaraderie was already evident even at that time of the day!

We used the time to take pics to send to friends supporting in the crowds so they'd know what we looked like!

Top two at Ebbsfleet and then at Greenwich queuing for the loos
The set up at Greenwich was quite incredible. The bag drop lorries were huge; the teams taking bags had a fairly slick operation going, and fair play to them - collecting that many thousand bags and asking each and every runner if they had their number, shoe tag and bag sticker is quite a chore! Next up was the queue for the toilets. We had 40 minutes and wondered if we would get to one before 10am but we did, and amazingly they were clean AND still had paper!

Just before 10am we made our way to the start. We were at the Red Start and in start pen 9. We heard the klaxon sound the start on the loudspeakers, and saw other parts of the events begin at 10am on the big screens, but the crowds of runners were so vast that we didn't reach the starting line until almost 10:30am. Crazy atmosphere though, so we strolled along soaking it all up.

Nervous and excited! Surrounded by crowds - we mostly eyed up people's kit, costumes, trainers and charities.
At about the same time that we were getting ready for the off, our amazing supporters were in the first of their chosen locations, making sure they had a spot at the roadside. They were armed with CwC noise-makers, headbands, whistles and posters.

Family and friends

Haz in a superb shirt!

With the orange star balloon that was like a homing beacon and CwC Noise Makers!

Lou, Cindy and kids, school friends were also there!
Sally and Lucy from Rugby Club!
Fellow runner Becci's family made sure we would see them!

The London Marathon....... I'm not sure that I have the eloquence to sum it up and do it justice. It was horrible and amazing in pretty much equal measure. Sarah and I ran together for about the first 14 miles before I started flagging and dropped back sending her onward. Amazingly, we remembered where all our wonderful friends and relatives had said they would be; we spotted them or they spotted us, and the lift they gave us was just incredible. I had no massive time agenda, and stopped for hugs, encouragement, and just a few tears every time I could. The Cutty Sark and Tower Bridge have to be the absolute high points from the first half of the race; the noise is like a wall of sound, I've never experienced anything quite like it!

I hit a bad spot at about 16.5 miles. The endless tummy trouble I've had on long training runs was not held at bay despite medication and careful fueling strategies ahead of and during the race. The loo-stop and few minutes to chat to the brilliant St Johns Ambulance folks broke my momentum, and from that point forward it was a struggle. I ran on, walking occasionally, and kept myself going with two thoughts - 1) In X miles/ Minutes I will see my husband/ children/ friend or my Mum/ Dad/ Sister and 2) If I run rather than walk, this whole horrible thing will be over with just that bit sooner!

My feet hurt. I thought I might lose whole toes they had gone so numb. My legs hurt and felt like lead. I saw people throwing up, limping, crying. I got overtaken by one point by a rhino (never good for the self-esteem). The crowds though - the crowds all became my best friends - the further round the race I got, the more engaging the crowds became. They stand outside pubs drinking wine and beer, and launching confetti canons. They holler the name on your shirt like they've known you all your life. The are there with jelly babies, haribo, jelly beans, jaffa cakes, bananas, orange segments, drinks, vaseline and high fives. I realised that making eye contact, pulling an 'I'm so done with this nonsense' face, waving, singing to their music or having a quick dance made them go even more bonkers, and that was enough to keep me moving. The CwC Cheering points were also brilliant; they had some 1400 runners in the blue and yellow vests and the noise those folks can generate is pretty awesome!

Seeing loved ones and friends kept me going. Spotting the orange star balloon, the red flag on a bamboo pole, the red t-shirt on sticks, the dandelion faces - seeing those at a distance and knowing a hug was on the horizon was the best thing ever. Some runners are fueled by carbo-gels. I think I am fueled mainly by love.

This was on The Embankment, Mile 25. Think I was pleased to see them all?

Hugs with the kids

Huge love from my sister. We both cried
My Dad ran the London Marathon in 1987 - thirty years ago this year. He did a sub-four hour time which I am now even more in awe of! He probably didn't stop for as many hugs as me though :)
With my Dad at Blackfriars Underpass - the end is in sight.

A snapchat from my daughter

Smiling? or a grimace? Or maybe a quint. I wanted the sun to go in, that is for sure!

My youngest supporter with his Buxton Water hand!
And so to the end. Rounding the final corner and seeing the finish line was wonderful. It was done. It took me 5 hours 23 minutes. Maybe no record, but I am proud of what I achieved. It has been a personal journey that I could not have done without all the support of good friends and families. I have been overwhelmed by it all, and sponsorship is still coming in days later. I am almost at £3000 now, 150% of my target!!!!!!

A few minutes past the finish line. That medal felt like it weighed a tonne!

And how did my friends fare?

Becci ran for Headway - she battled with injuries throughout and race day was no exception. True grit and utter determination won out though (and I've seen photos of her poor toes this week!)
Becci - Job done! 5:19:49
And Sarah; she ran for her Dad, for Prostate UK. She was determined to get a sub five marathon - and she only went and did it! An amazing runner who has raised over £6K for her charity.

Sarah 4:58:28
So that is pretty much it......
And me. Happy to be with my friends and family at the end. Proud and exhausted.
To finish the last post to perfection, my friend Lou did 'Pass me the Prosecco'. When I ache less and can stay awake a little later, I will enjoy this!

Pass me the Prosecco - I just ran the London Marathon!
And one last shot - if you have yet to sponsor me, the link will remain live for a while yet. Here it is:


Sunday 23 April 2017

Here goes....!

By the time this post goes live, I will be almost at the start line. I've spent large parts of yesterday faffing about. I removed hawthorn spikes from my trainers and affixed the chip timer. I pinned my number onto my vest. I packed my kit bag and running belt. Everything is laid out and good to go. Train times have been triple checked. I had a bath and painted my nails in crazy colours to match the kit.

I also went to a family party and spent much of the day feeling quite overwhelmed at just how much support I have for this crazy endeavour; and it has helped enormously.

I have raised about £2700 now and sponsorship is still coming in.

Now? I am probably waiting for the start gun. 15 trips to the loo done?? I expect so. Nervous? Almost certainly. Excited? Yep! This will be hard. I have full respect for the challenge ahead though, and know that I can do this. I may have to pull every reserve I have got to get round the last third, but then it will be a few hours of my life and I can say 'I've run a marathon'

See you on the finish line.

Kit ready to go

Nails done  - important, clearly

This was lunch at the family party. Delish!

Blooming Hawthorn! Hazards of Kent life. Needed pliers!

Thursday 20 April 2017


This afternoon we headed up to Expo in East London to collect our bib numbers, chip timers and kit bags. The set up is immense. The 39000 runners must collect their numbers in person with ID, get shoe tags activated, and, if the stalls are anything to go by, spend a months' salary on running supplies!

We did the important bits first - no number on the day means you cannot run. Then we browsed the stands, eyeing up the lovely merchandise, sensibly knowing that 26.2 miles is not the best time to try anything new, and that bitter cherry juice and beetroot juice shots are probably all a bit late now to make a difference on the day. Maybe next time.....

It was quite emotional - it is all very real now and only a few more days to go.

Got the number!
At the CWC stand

The red caption (CWCMRMEN) is made up of the names of all the CwC Runners

Finding my name!

Typical-on the hashtag and split across two lines! But I am THERE!

Sarah added a message to their board.

I got a strike!

That won me £5 for my charity

My very lovely partner in running xx

Wednesday 19 April 2017

Fundraising Update

When I took on this marathon challenge, the fundraising seemed like it might almost be more tricky than the training. I have been really lucky to have colleagues who've donated items for sale, a great venue at work to run film events, and running friends like Sarah to share fundraising with.

Last week we ran Bridget Jones's Baby as an evening film event, and this week Sarah hosted tea and cakes in her usual inimitably classy style with gorgeous goodies and the beautiful setting of her home. These events topped up my charity pot by another £200+ and  sponsorship has been flooding in over the past few days with so many wonderful messages of support. I feel so touched by all the support. Bring on Sunday!

Tea and cakes

All set out  - Sarah is running for Prostate Cancer UK

I'll have this one

Ready for her guests

Sarah, Mel and Sarah! Mary Berry eat your heart out!

Tuesday 11 April 2017

Lambing season!

It is the tapering element of the marathon training now. Today's run was set as a three mile slow pace. I headed out with the B2R Early Birds for a lovely cross country run (test driving my leggings at the same time!)

It was still quite cold, but a stunning out today;our route took us through farming fields and lots of curious sheep and lambs!

The lambs clearly saw us coming this morning!

Bye then...

Kent life

Friday 31 March 2017

20 miles DONE!

This weekend I needed to do a 20 mile training run. I was struggling to know when to fit it in this weekend as I knew it would take quite some time so in the end decided  to use up the last of my leave and go this morning.

It was hard. As always the first few miles felt impossible. A bit of Fatboy Slim came up on my music playlist and that got me settled into a better pace. I made 10 miles without too much trouble and headed into the petrol station for water and jelly tots. I needed the fluids but that stop killed my pace and the next few miles felt tough through to 15 miles. And then, even though I felt dead on my feet, I realised that just five more miles was doable. So I soldiered on at my snails pace and got it done.

The last few miles were painful- I had lost track of my pre-planned route so ended up running past the top of my road a short way to make up the distance. Timed to perfection though as my garmin  flagged 20 miles exactly as I stepped onto my driveway.

So- DONE! That was the last of the long runs before the big day. Now I get to taper. This means eat carbs and ease up on the distances. Taper is my new favourite word!

I'm also very nearly at my target following some offline fundraising so if you fancy sponsoring me this evening here is the link http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/EmmAldrich 

Friday 24 March 2017

Small things, big emotions....

On the school run today, a fellow mum, marathon trainee and friend handed me a tiny gauze bag saying 'I've got a present for you...' Inside the bag were these two little pieces of metal, punched with lace-holes and inscribed with personalised messages. They are for my trainers and will without a doubt help me every step of the way round the course in 4 weeks time.

Such a small gift, but so thoughtful. Needless to say I cried buckets!!! I will be a total wreck by the time this is over!

Thank you Becci. We can do this!

Sunday 19 March 2017

Maidstone Road Run

I needed to do a 17 mile run this weekend so signed up for the Maidstone Road run half-marathon option and plotted a route from there on to William's rugby club to make up the distance.

It was hard going to start with; I think I am getting tired and not fuelling sensibly and the first two miles I felt dreadful, but once I got my pace settled down I started to feel a little better.The route was erm.... 'undulating' and quite challenging, and had the added psychological struggle of being two loops of a 6.6 mile course so you approach the start/ finish knowing you need to go round again, AND you know exactly what is coming the second time around! However, the one small advantage of hilly routes is that all the flat/ downhill sections feel just that little bit easier.

Once the 'official' part of the run was over and I had grabbed my medal, some water and dashed for a loo break, I headed back out of East Malling and on down the road to add four more painfully slow miles to the rugby club. I have no idea how my running friends Nick and Naz managed to add on 8 more miles. They must have been hurting by the end; the only saving grace is that they are running Brighton so presumably can now taper off the long runs ahead of the race!

A bit more bling for the collection

Carolyn and Yvette from B2R were marshalling this time and it was VERY lovely so see them. A hug and big encouragement is just what we needed today

A run of two halves
Don't forget that you can sponsor me here: Every pound I get now with a comment of support and encouragement genuinely keeps me going when I am on my knees and want to cry/ be sick/ poo/ walk/ lay down/ call a taxi/ stay home drinking wine....

Friday 17 March 2017


It is official. The merry band of Early Birds made it through the winter darkness and we are now back out in the sunlight proper. There was no question today, we chose the Greensands Way just so that we could enjoy the offroad route and marvel at the views. Just so so great to not be out in the dark!

Yvette, Debbie, Penny, Andrew, me, Fiona

Thursday 16 March 2017

Blogging the Bloggers

I saw an advert a week ago on the Children with Cancer UK pages asking for people who are blogging about training for an event/ fundraising for them or writing about a child with cancer to get in touch. I sent them my blog link, and they whizzed through it and asked me if they could take excerpts and repost them to their own site. Of course I said yes (because I am really vain and love a bit of social media), and so they did. They also pushed it out on Twitter and Facebook. Take a look! Nick Davis, I can only apologise that they chose photos of the more lovely Sarah to feature on their page, but they did retain links to my fellow runner's charities which I was really pleased about.