So the day came around, much faster than I ever anticipated.
Training had gone well, I’d given up on the initial (very optimistic) goal of 4:00 and decided to focus on getting the mileage in. The last few weeks of training were slightly more hectic than usual. I was on both placement with university, and Mr T had started a new job – the taper came at what felt like the best possible time, I was definitely getting run down. In the future I think I’d like to get another 30km run in rather than just the one, but it was enough on the day.
I arrived in London on the friday, the coach went via the expo- so got my number then. I was staying 10 minutes walk from Marble Arch, took the opportunity to go look around Oxford Street and meet up with a lovely friend from my birthing group (only briefly on friday, sorry! but we got to talk a bit more on the monday lunch – which was awesome), then finally managed to find J, F and I – we went and played catch and catch up in the park before walking to Soho for dinner. Might probably have walked a bit more than I should have.
Saturday, up bright and early to run in Hyde Park with the running group, then after breakfast I went along to the expo again, and managed to meet a few lovely ladies from a facebook running group while wandering around – tried on some trainers (Brooks trail shoes, omnomnom want!) and talked to a few booths, including the Loch Ness Marathon (2016’s adventure?) before heading back to enjoy the last supper with the running club. Lamb hotpot in a lovely little pub – kind of a shame that I didn’t have a half of beer to go with it, then it was back tot he hotel and attempt some form of sleep-like activity before the 6am breakfast wake-up call.
I slept, well badly – though I did sleep – 6am came and after a quick chat with the kids and the Mr I headed down to breakfast. I loaded up pretty well (think I went for full english, then a bit more), then went up to get dressed. I was pretty impressed with myself for not forgetting anything to wear – my packing was scatterbrained to say the very least! I also managed to iron part of my number, which melted it slightly – luckily I noticed before hole-formation!
Then it was onto a coach to get to the start line, while listening to my spotify playlist to get worked up! I managed to eventually find the Miscarriage Association for a quick hug (though was looking at the wrong place for long enough!)
Nicky and Kate (lovely ladies to the left and right of me) were the two ladies that the virtual run was arranged with (Nicky was the mastermind behind that one), Nicky had covered her skirt with little stars symbolising the many angel babies that are so sadly not with us. Coralie had her little angels written on the seam of her running vest – it was so hard to not get super emotional at that point of finally meeting some of the M.A. team and hearing a little bit of their stories. I also met Louisa (apologies if I failed to spell your name there!) who was aiming for a sort of similar time to Kate and I – so we decided to start out together. After a few more photos it was time to make it to the red start (and photobomb poor Kate on the way!)
A fair bit of our time was then spent waiting to spend a penny after (wisely) deciding that female urinals in running tights were maybe not the cleverest idea ever (and hearing other reports about the urinals, we made the right choice there) and then it was a quick bag drop before getting into our pen to start. The number of people was incredible, and we slowly slowly started inching towards the start, trying to avoid the mario-kart characters and other hilarious outfits. It took about 20 minutes to actually reach the start, including another run for the loo, but it seemed to pass incredibly fast anyway – before we knew it we were going over the start line – the marathon had begun!
The first 10km went without too much of a hitch (plenty of HUMP!’s, quite residential area). We were a little slower than Kate and Louisa had planned, though probably about dead on for what I should be going for – when Kate said to me they were aiming for a second 10k at 55minutes I wisely realised that it was time to say bye and head off on my own, bearing in mind my current PB for 10km is 54minutes…..
The second 10km also went off without a hitch, though again was very crowded in sections – I found it hard to keep a pace based purely on the number of people, though I was pleasantly suprised to find that I wasn’t absolutely terrified in the sea of people. I’d decided to run with my rucksack (water and snacks) and that safety belt really helped me – it also helped that the water stations served bottles, so while a bit hairy underfoot around the stations, it meant that I could sip as and when I felt like it, and kept water in my hands for quite a while rather than trying to drink from a cup and getting a free shower.
Around 17km the grump kicked in, and I took absolutely no pleasure in running over Tower Bridge (the halfway point), though looking at the pictures I still had a grin on. I was running in vibram five fingers, and the asphalt had gravel sticking out of it at the exact size that I try to avoid when running. 21km passed – and then it got heavy going – I managed to keep running till 27,5km when another runner hit the back of my foot and knocked my shoe half off. Not wanting a repeat of Sands (where I ended up running in just socks) I hobbled to the side of the road to put said shoe back on, but from that point on I was cursed by the walk/run mindset. I started walk-running (Docklandsish I think) and met up with a lovely fellow runner called Holly who was also having a bit of a sucky time and feeling ill. We talked and talked each other into running bits, but after a while decided we’d set our music on and get serious – I later heard she’d been sick and then got going again – YEY Holly! I also somewhere here just before meeting Holly saw the miscarriage association cheer team, who had ORANGES (oh my goodness the most delicious thing ever) and jelly beans. I had a quick hug and got going again.
This song got me going, I was singing it (badly) and just so happy… haha! (Good job you didn’t see me at this point F!)
My music got me going again, but meant I missed out on seeing my lovely lovely friends F, J and I who were cheering. I did actually hear them, but at that point I was pretty zoned out – as the video they have of me shows (attempting to upload it, but computer says nope).
Before too long we were back at Tower Bridge for the final 6km, and again around 5km it started getting tough going – at that point I rang up the hubby and the kids for a pep-talk – which worked really well – I’m not sure exactly why I lost it again at that point as really there was so little to go, but I do know that my legs started cramping running along the Thames, so run walk/smash thigh with fist, as the way forwards.
Coming up the the Houses of Parliment was a majestic sight, and the last 4km were so full of people (after the Tunnel of Piss/Penis, which fellow runners will understand the name of) that I didn’t need music on anymore – the cheers of ‘Run Gem Run!’ were simply amazing and kept me going (plus I found a smooth bit of road to stick to – which was bliss) rounding the corner I saw a bright yellow top (of a girl who I think had passed me earlier) with the logo of the online running group (Run Mummy Run) and so I said Hello, and asked if she wanted to cross the line with me – running up towards Buckingham Palace was utterly incredible, and passed in an absolute blur if I’m totally honest, then it was around the corner (WHUT!) and FINISH LINE!
We crossed the line hand in hand (the first male winners of the marathon had done the same in 1981, and as the 35th anniversary the organisers suggested doing the same) and very very gladly stopped running. I crossed the line exactly at 4 hours and 40 minutes, my garmin telling me I’d ran 42.8km (so an extra 600 metres for free – it’s an ultra right?).
Then it was finishers photos, collecting bags, and heading out towards the meeting point (where I utterly missed F, J and I, but then found them outside). Met up with the Miscarriage Association and some of the runners then in the Cafe in the Crypt (which hilariously had an out of order lift), before heading off for curry.
I had an absolutely incredible experience, and can’t wait to run another marathon or ultra in the future. The training is a bit hard work with a family once you get into the longer distances/3hour long runs, but running the marathon itself is such a wonderful/terrible enlightening experience that you simply don’t get at the shorter distances. I’m pondering looking into the run/walk method in the future, as I don’t seem to have a problem to walk/run/walk/run, and doing it from the begining might actually speed me up overall – that or I need to not walk at all – hard to really know. I might play with it over summer.
So what’s next? Well I’m running the Göteborgvarvet at the end of May, and kind-of hoping for a ticket to the Stockholm Marathon to sneakily land on my doorstep (I’m trying to win competitions for tickets basically), but beyond that I’m not sure. I think I’d like to do a more trail-like marathon in the future, and definitely an Ultra-Marathon – might go for Loch Ness in 2016. The fundraising experience has also been interesting/amazing. I’m suprised about how much people want you to shave your head for example.
I think it’s important to choose a charity that is close to your heart, that miscarriage awareness and support for all is something that I think is so needed both in the UK and Sweden – really made the process pain-free in some aspects. I’m so thankful and appreciative to everyone who has supported me on this crazy journey of mine – THANK YOU! <3