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
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.
|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
|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!
|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 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: