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:



  1. Now I've had a little cry too. Love you. Xx

  2. Have read this blog with tears in my eyes and a huge lump in my throat. You were incredible. So proud. Love you 😘

  3. Truly one of the best blogs ever! You can sense the joy, pain and accomplishment just reading it. Fabulous, absolutely fabulous.

  4. An even bigger well done Emma and thanks for this wonderful, painful journey's end blog. A fantastic journey for all of us xxxxx love Jeanette and John xx xx

  5. Ok, so know you've made me cry too. Great blog, feel like I was there with you. Love you xx