Sandra - Final London Marathon blog 2012

So here it is the last of my blogs (stop cheering, I can hear you!!). Make yourself comfy, it's a long one.

After almost 4 months of training and two weeks of no running I finally stood on the blue start line of the Virgin London Marathon – well 8 pens back to be precise but you know what I mean.

I started the day early meeting a few Ealing Eagles at a train station in sunny Brentford, Coach Kelvin Walker, running hubby Simon Stannard and the charming (not my first choice of words but I couldn’t put gob on a stick on a blog) John Clifford.

Off we went to Waterloo to pick up a few more waifs and strays that I knew were running and headed to the Blackheath. The atmosphere on route is part of the day for me, everywhere you look you see people carrying their red VLM bags, all of us about to embark on the same journey and none of us sure how it will finish.

A lighter moment while standing on Waterloo East platform was when a very moody station attendant was barking and shouting at everyone to stand behind the yellow line in a tone not befitting the day. ‘Stand behind the yellow line, hey stand behind the yellow line, I SAID STAND BEHIND THE YELLOW LINE, YOU, YES YOU WITH THE RED BAG’. ‘Well that narrows it down’ I said. Laughter erupted on the platform and no death or disaster occurred by standing slightly over the yellow line you will be pleased to hear.

The cattle were then herded from Blackheath train station towards the start area. Photos were duly taken at which point another Eagle few into shot in the form of Tom Corbett.

We made our way through to the runners only section to deposit our bags. As we were all different numbers and pens we said our goodbyes and good lucks and ventured off into the unknown. On my way to my start area I saw Eagle Paul Robinson patiently waiting in his start area looking as calm and collected as always.

The start time was 9.45am when pen 1 is released across the line, it took me about another 10 minutes to get there to start my race but it’s the fastest 10 minutes of your life, no time for nerves.

Off I went…..

I saw friends of mine at mile 3 and heard Kelvin and Simon at mile 7. I only realised it was them when Kelvins laughing came into ear shot and turned back to see them heartily enjoying themselves. I didn’t want to get in other runners way trying to get back to say hello so carried on with a smile on my face knowing they were enjoying themselves.

One thing I wasn’t prepared for that morning was the sunshine! It was actually a really hot run and I have a vest sunburn shape to prove it. The journey round London was as amazing as I remembered from last year. The crowds of people that come out to cheer you on are phenomenal.  People handing out sweets, hands to high five and shouting your name and words of encouragement is a sight and sound to behold.

The struggle for me started at mile 10. I found myself actually talking to my body out loud at various stages; no one around me batted an eyelid as pretty much everyone understands what you need to do to get yourself through. You do whatever it takes.

The pain was still there although I had taken painkillers but my issue turned out not to be with my knee as badly as I thought. My body decided to throw in a left hip pain and a right foot pain just for good measure. I am sure the hip was because of the biomechanics of running with an injured knee but the right foot had no business being there that day!! It wasn’t a muscular thing it was a ball of the foot pain as if I wasn’t used to running and was something I had never ever had before. I had to stop between mile 11-12 to take my trainer and sock off (all old faithful so nothing new used that could explain it) to try and get it back to life. Sock and trainer back on, off I went again.

I jogged away the next few miles until I got to past mile 16 and found myself in too much pain to do much more so to my shame…..I walked….

I text Kelvin saying ‘walking, painful’ and felt it was game over. I knew from training runs how hard it is to get going again once you start walking and the thought of how my muscles and joints would scream at me meant I wasn’t sure I could. Mile 17 approached. As I walked under the mile marker something clicked in my head and I started moving my legs a bit faster, then the jog started, I waited for the legs to object but they did what they hadn’t done before, they kept moving. The pain was there but your mind is a powerful tool and knowing I had started this race meant I was finishing it too. From then onwards I took this adventure one mile at a time. Twenty is when they say you start this Marathon but I felt I had done the hard part by then and had only two goals left, one was to finish but the biggest one was to get to mile 23 to see my Ealing Eagles.

The miles ticked by and the sight of seeing some far off white banner and balloons in the distance as I approached Monument was too much for me and my eyes started filling up with tears. I saw you guys way before you saw me and I tell you there isn’t a feeling in the world like that!

The Ealing Eagle cheering squad was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen, you guys put your hearts and souls into that day and you helped me get to that finish as much as if every single one of you were running beside me. I can never thank you enough. I can tell you I saw a lot of familiar faces but probably not all and some people I haven’t met properly but every single one of you stood there made a difference.

The rest is a blur of tears for a mile then the excitement of seeing Yan and the pick me up of the crowds cheering you on and calling out your name is astounding.

Big Ben, Bird Cage Walk….I am almost there.

That sensation of turning into The Mall is one to treasure (still not as good as an Eagle cheer squad) I have never been so happy to see a finish line.

I crossed the line in 4:59:16, 4 minutes slower than last year and 6 painkillers more on route but I couldn’t have been happier. An official photographer took my picture and actually asked me how I could smile so much after a 26.2 mile run, I can’t wait to see that picture :-D

I don’t know where to start with thanking people. Alan for creating such a fantastic club and giving me the opportunity to run for you by winning the club ballot place. Kelvin for coaching me all the way. Simon for being a supportive running hubby. Kieran for cups of tay, biscuits and cakes. Arlene for being amazing and everyone who has ever said a word of encouragement to me along this journey in no particular order Godfrey, Christine, Flatfoot, Rachid, Yan, Jose, Kieren,  Doug, Keith, Alf, Catherine, Jane, Nigel, Judith, Emma, Nanda, Rowena, Paul, Carla, Vicky, Kate, Allie, Yvonne, Helen, Claire W, Colin, Paul M, Omar, Paul T, all those who ran the weekend before me at Brighton and Paris - Nora, Gideon, Yan, Kieran, Anthony, Vince, Jenny, Julia, Melissa you were all inspirational. I probably shouldn’t have started name checking hahaha….I know I’ll have forgotten some people for which I’m truly sorry but you know who you are and what a difference you made to me. And a special thank you to my brothers on the day who trailed me, you helped the machine get round.

I’d also like to say congratulations to all the Ealing Eagles who ran yesterday – Tom, John, Piers, Jon, Paul, Neil, Andy, Andy, Tabitha, Anne Marie, Ceyrllia, Helen, Robert, Sarah and Polly, what a team to put my name amongst.  

If you’ve never run a marathon London is amazing, but to run London for the Ealing Eagles that really is something else.

*hands over the baton*

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