London Marathon 2016
This post has been a couple of weeks brewing as, to be honest, I was too tired to be coherent the whole of last week. London Marathon has been the focus of my year so far, with the biggest challenge for me getting to the start line healthy, fit and feeling like I could make all 26.2 miles. I was so excited just to be there I hadn't really thought much about the race itself until I got to the expo and it all started feeling very real!
Even though I got my place through the ballot I ran for Breast Cancer Now, in memory of my mum Jenny (hence the whole website - you can still sponsor me *shameless plug* here bit.ly/nicruns). I was in the blue start running the exact same route as the elite athletes. Everyone set off full of excitement and I watched the tide go out as the saying goes. The atmosphere was incredible with crowds and fellow runners all in high spirits.
At mile 3 the two routes merged, as far as I could see in front or behind there were runners for about 500-600m. This carried me on round to Cutty Sark in mile six and up to mile 9 where I saw my dad and husband. As I came up to mile 11 I spotted them again from behind a 3D dinosaur and I was still feeling good.
Then all of a sudden there was a sharp right turn and there was Tower Bridge looming above me! The noise and support was just incredible. Running across that bridge is something I will never forget - I think I cried the whole way over too!
Seeing all the faster runners at 22 when you're at 13 didn't get to me. It was really inspiring to see them making it to 22miles and looking good, I was in awe. I was also looking for my sister, nephew, brother in law and stepmum who went nuts jumping up and down when they saw me on the other side of the road.
It was harder seeing the other runners at mile 18 when you were just before 15, they were starting to look tired. I passed the man with the tumble dryer on his back thinking why? Just why?
The thought of my next load of supporters around 18.5 was keeping me going through a rather windy Isle of Dogs and I ran 18-19 really strongly looking out for them. I managed to see my bestie, Sally then but missed my dad and husband somehow. By the time I hit mile 20 I was worrying that they'd got bored and left (they hadn't but your mind does cruel things to you when you've been running for more than 4 hours).
I tried to pick myself up and look forward to my sister about mile 22. I'd slowed to a run/walk by this point and was struggling. She wasn't where I'd seen her previously. She'd got bored waiting too (I thought). I was feeling really tired and I walked through the cheer station telling Breast Cancer Now "This is really tough".
But as I came up passed the Tower I spotted my family. Hugging my stepmum I fell apart and we had a bit of cry. So did my sister but she told me something really important "3 miles to go - you're going to make it now". I jogged on for maybe the next half mile buoyed by this but then I had to walk. I was exhausted. I was running on empty. I re-evaluate things and decided if I couldn't run I'd power walk because I'd be dammed if I was giving up.
I will be forever grateful to the volunteer at the water station just before 24 as you went into the tunnel who called my name, looked me straight in the face and said over and over "Nic you are going to do this" - all I could do at this point was nod vigorously and say "yes". This total stranger reminded me that I was here to do one thing - cross the finish line.
Out of the tunnel and on to the Embankment I saw the Breast Cancer Now charity banners and thought I'm just going to jog to them. What can only be described as the most awkward jog/shuffle then commenced. The charity supporter went nuts and my jog/shuffle thing continued. I thought I'll just make it to that bridge, that mile marker, big Ben. But wait who is that? My dad and husband appeared just after mile 25.
Another couple of power hugs (they hadn't given up on me!) and the jog/shuffle continued. And then I was round Big Ben and starting to see a count down in metres. I kind of zoned out at this point just telling myself I couldn't stop.
Buckingham Palace came into sight. I went under the bridge and saw flags everywhere. I was on the Mall and I felt like a rock star. Time for my strong finish where I actually picked up the pace a little and crossed the finish line running. The marshals actually had to tell me I could stop.
I joined the line for medals and I completely fell apart. I think it just hit me that I made it to the end when I was never 100% sure I would. I did it and my mum would have been so proud! I got my medal with a hug from the lovely lady marshal (I clearly wasn't the first emotional wreck she'd given a medal to that day) and wandered dazed towards the bags and celebrations with my family.
I'd done it - 5hrs 53mins and 31 seconds. It was incredible and it was incredibly tough. I'd proved to myself I could set my mind to something so big and scary and also achieve it. And that is enough for me.