I’ve done it.
On the 26th April 2015 – 51 weeks after I received my place with Spinal Research, 17 weeks after I began training and 6 weeks after I gave up alcohol – I ran the Virgin Money London Marathon.
I completed it in a time of 3:42 with which I am totally delighted. It was such a bizarre experience from start to finish, and it wasn’t until mile 17 that it really occurred to me that this this was it. The day I’d been training for, having nightmares over, clogging up Facebook newsfeeds with and simultaneously been incredibly excited for and totally dreading.
The day started early for me at Clapham Common – even from here a lot of people were lycra clad and carrying the red kit bag we all had to use. By the time we got to London Bridge it was a swarm of runners. It was almost an out of body experience because it seemed entirely normal that this many people were on a train at this time in the morning to spend the next few hours running.
Whilst I was prepared for queues at portaloos, what I was not expecting is the infamous female urinal and Shewe. I have to be honest, as open minded as I am, I can do without this experience again!
I had travelled to the start line with friends but we were all in separate waves. I went into my enclosure and was waiting for the start whilst reassuring myself that I hadn’t forgotten anything and I could definitely do this, when I ended up in conversation with a load of other runners. One person noticed my Spinal Research running vest, and then suddenly there was a whole little team of us all in Wave 5. It was a shock when it was suddenly time to get moving.
The first ten miles I really enjoyed. I felt incredibly strong and was happy just running with the crowd.
Everyone told me that London Bridge was something special, and they weren’t wrong. It leads you to feeling really high so you turn off into Canary Wharf feeling really steady.
However, it was around mile 15 that I started to think that this was no longer much fun, and by mile 22 it really was no fun at all. As I was approaching mile 22 I had to stop. I didn’t stop for long but I needed to stop and take on some water and just psych myself up for what lay ahead. I was doing this when a spectator screamed for me to keep going… and it worked. I started running again and suddenly this lovely lady and all of her friends were screaming for me. Whoever you are, thank you!
My aim had always been to break 4 hours, but I had started to realise by mile 23 not only could I do this, but that I could do it in under 3:45. Whilst completing the marathon was the goal, I naturally have a competitive streak and knowing that a sub 3:45 time was mine to lose was all the motivation I needed to pick my feet up and get going.
Running out of the city for the last 2.2 miles really changed things for me. Suddenly the crowds were thick and fast and roaring with energy and running along the embankment is something I shall never forget. However, despite knowing I had family and friends along the course due to my bad eyesight I hadn’t seen any of them. I thought I didn’t mind because I knew that they were there, but suddenly going past Big Ben I saw my best friends from university, and I very nearly burst into tears with happiness. Apparently they all did instead. From then I caught sight of my flatmate and then it was a breeze up the Mall for the home straight. Seeing my friends there and having that support was genuinely one of the most touching moments of my life. I’m lucky to have great friends and I always know this, but I’ve never been so grateful for them as in that moment.
I’m embarrassed to say that I crossed the finish line with my arms spread wide in victory – it just felt natural!
It took me a few hours to be able to string a sentence together, not to mention use my legs, but it was an incredible experience. I think I’m still in a state of shock over it all.
I want to say a massive thank you to everyone who has sponsored me, supported me, and been there for the incredible journey that I have been on for the past 51 weeks.
My blog and instagram will be sticking around, but with different goals in mind. The future is an exciting place..