Before the marathon
The weeks leading up to the day I was dreading it. My shin splints were awful and I had to visit the minor injuries unit to get it checked out. The doctor assured me that I was young and fit, so I should just dose up on painkillers & carry on training! So, that I did (occasionally). I’m not going to lie and say I trained half as much as I should have, because I really didn’t. But, clearly it was enough to get me around in a semi-decent time!
The day before I felt incredibly nervous & my stomach was in knots. I cried loads watching Mind over Marathon, cried some more when I was convinced I wasn’t capable and then cried even more because I was just emotional by that point! I did however throughly enjoy the carb loading in the week leading up to it!
Before I knew it, it was 7am and I was up getting ready for the tough day ahead. I had agreed to run with a fellow Mind runner I met on our Facebook charity group as we were going for similar times, and felt happy I had someone of similar personality & wavelength as me to run with!
The gun went, and immediately we all started shuffling forwards. You are put into groups from 1-9 depending on the expected finish time you entered when you first applied for a place. I was in group 8, so I was very close to the back. I was warned that being close to the back meant you don’t actually cross the start line until around 20-30mins after the gun goes, so I still had another half hour of suspense before I could get running!
My start was in the red zone, which meant I started inside Greenwich park. We followed a route which connected up with the blue & green start runners about 3 miles into the marathon, and then we all followed the same long winding path that is the marathon!
I stared running & my first thoughts were ‘omg, I’m f***ing running the London Marathon’. It was at that point I decided to ignore the time, and just enjoy the day. I had raised the money needed for an AMAZING charity, I was taking part in an event so many people wanted to do but struggled to get a place for & I didn’t want it to go to waste being spent worrying constantly about my pace! You know what? I think that did the trick.
I had the best day ever. Honestly, I mean that and I genuinely never thought I would say that about running 26.2 miles! Me and exercise aren’t friends, but me and positivity, support from strangers & having a good time in life no matter what the task is, are friends! I really believe that was the difference between me and others who I know that ran & didn’t enjoy the day as much!
There were only two low points of the whole race for me. The first was when two male spectators decided it would be hilarious to squirt Lucozade sport all over me and my friend! I was SO angry but I was determined to not let them ruin this amazing experience for me. So I carried on my sassy running with sticky hair and a sticky left arm. Tasty.
The second problem was when I got to just before mile 12 and thought: ‘I can’t do this again’. I started walking and just looked at the ground thinking about how much I would hate myself if I gave up. I don’t know how I did it, but I managed to drag my mind out of the negative place and focus on the fact I would get to see my supporters again and they would get me through! I’m not a quitter. I’m the sort of person who would drag herself round if that’s what it required!
The first 10km went by in a flash. I felt strong, I felt calm, and I felt positive. I was consistent on pacing, I wasn’t running faster than planned, and I mentally prepared myself for the challenge ahead, namely the remaining 32km.
At mile 9, I spotted my first lot of supporters in Surrey Quays, standing on a traffic light! It made me laugh so much & seeing them gave me such a push to carry on! I then saw them again just before half way, so have them a quick hug as I needed the boost after my negative spout, & continued on my way! I don’t know what came over me at this point, but when I saw Tower Bridge, I just started shouting. ‘YESSSS OMG’ – just letting all the emotion out! A few other runners joined in and laughed, and suddenly I was like: girl, you got this.
Things started to get tough…
Then came the soul destroying part. I was making my merry way into the 14th mile, going into the Isle of Dogs / Canary Wharf area. On the other side, you see everyone who’d done that bit, running back up towards their last 5km of the course. I just cried out ‘I wish I were you guys!!’, and that earned a good few laughs! I was proud of that, not gonna lie haha!
At around mile 17 my friend and I bumped into a fellow Mind runner who looked in a bad way. I ran up to her and asked if she was okay, if she needed any help or water or gels. She started crying, so we slowed to a walk to talk to her about why she was upset. After, she explained that she was going for a sub 5 hour marathon but her knees had gone at mile 11. She was genuinely going to quit, however we spoke to her & told her she wasn’t allowed too – she had put in too much effort to give up now! I told her what I told myself back at mile 12 & felt a sense of pride that I had made both myself, and her, carry on.
At mile 23 I saw my supporters again, who were half expecting to see a broken woman. They had just seen another one of my friends a few minutes before I arrived, and he did not look like he was in a good place. The loneliness can get to you when you run as you are completely in your own headspace for hours on end. But, when I turned up and I was full of smiles & positivity, they were in complete and utter shock! I was shouting ‘I’m actually okay! I’m actually doing it! I’m actually going to finish! And at that moment, I knew there was no going back!
My friends blister popped at around mile 25 & we had to make another stop for her to sort herself out. She was really upset, but I wasn’t going to let her not finish. So, as we ran the last little bit, I was shouting positive words to her the whole way. I never thought I would feel so good by the end of 26 miles, and although shattered, I crossed the finish line with my friends hand in mine up in the air and a massive smile on my face!
I was looking out for the royals to see if I could get them to give me my medal, but I think they had gone home by this point. Clearly I was too much of a snail! However, I had an incredibly LOVELY volunteer who just held me as I cried after getting my medal. I was sweaty and in such a state and she told me how amazing I was. I didn’t get your name you amazing woman, but if you are reading this, you really are the definition of what makes the day a truly unforgettable experience. Thank you so much for holding me together when I lost my shit!
So the question everyone has been asking me: would I do it again? Abso-fecking-lutely!! By mile 25 I was SO done and told myself I was a ‘one marathon’ kinda gal. Those last 3-4 miles felt like they went on forever! It took pure willpower to get me round to the finish. It really was mind over matter, and I genuinely feel like I’ve made a big step physically and mentally. I now know I am capable of anything I put my mind & body to – as long as you work hard, believe in yourself and realise the sky isn’t the limit. There’s so much more out there you CAN do!
When I got home, I allowed myself an internal ‘you fucking go girlfriend’, and a massive Dominos, obviously. & then I limped up the stairs to go toilet.
That’s my marathon story! I really hope you enjoyed reading my experience and maybe I’ve convinced some of you to give it a go! You definitely wouldn’t regret it; take it from someone who is far from the definition of a runner!