So I did it. All 26.2 miles of it ( or in my case 27.... Does that make me an Ultra runner?!)
The day started off well. My lovely coach came to pick me up and take me to the coach. Full of good advice and bad jokes Mark was on form! I got on the coach and wasn't too bad. No full on panics and the journey was quite smooth. Before I knew it we were off to the starts. I had been worried about this bit as my training buddies were all in red start but I went off with Chris Lambert which really helped.
I also went and met some lovely Run Mummy Runners....as prearranged, by the Lucozade stand. It was lovely to sit with them for a bit and check how everyone was.
Before we knew it, it was time to get in our pens and then we were off. As I went through the start on the left I looked over and there were Kate, Harry and William waving at me...I gave them a cheeky wave back and smiling I was off.
My plan if I felt good always had been to go off behind the 4:30 Pacers and assess how I felt. Off I went, my legs felt very heavy but I hoped that would go. Through mile 1 with an amazing atmosphere and suddenly I noticed they had run it in a 10 min mile...now that was a lot, lot quicker than the 10:18 pace that it should have been. I stuck to them for one more lap but having clocked a 10:04 I realised it was nuts so slowed down. My legs strangely hadn't settled.. They felt like lead and completely different to any other training run. I knew something wasn't quite right but kept thinking it had got to go soon. I'd managed every single long run without pain on pace so couldn't see why this would be any different (at least for the first twenty miles!).
Mile 5 and I saw Simon Hardy up in the sky ( or at least on top of a huge building) it made me smile and I appreciated the cheers. Went past my wonderful coach and support crew at mile 7.5 and still felt not great but ok.
Mile 8 however was a turning point and not in a good way. My ankle suddenly felt awful. Every step was hurting. Again I thought I could probably run it out but it wasn't going away. I had already spoken to my physio about it earlier in the week and had been given some exercises to help. I am not a physio and probably won't explain it very well but basically my ankle wasn't rotating very well...and this had suddenly become very intense. At one point I wondered if I had somehow caused a stress fracture ( not that I know what that feels like but the pain was ouchy) however I was too scared to go to medical incase they told me I couldn't continue.
At mile 11.5 I saw my wonderful sister and mum and dad...they were urging me on but I stopped for a cuddle, it felt hard and I needed some love! Very soon after I saw my hubby and children. I am ashamed to say I burst into tears. It was hurting so much and I just wanted to stop on one hand but on the other hand there was no way I was not getting that medal.
I left them cross with myself, my family have been so supportive throughout this training. It has affected them and our weekends yet they have adapted and been amazing throughout, Ed even being my training partner on a few occasions. What had I done but looked miserable when I saw them. They were giving up their day to run around and be my support crew. That was the kick up the butt I needed.
I began to dedicate each mile to a different person. Turning onto Tower Bridge was as awesome as expected. I was doing this, I was lucky enough to be running one of the best races in the world.
I trudged on getting slower all the time and a few times when the pain got too much I walked. However I was still determined to enjoy it. I soaked up the atmosphere and the encouragement was amazing. I saw more Eagles which really helped and other friends. At one point I waited ten minutes for the toilet. I had obviously drunk too much and as a time was out the window by that point I thought I might as well wait. Little known to me I caused my family to worry as the toilets were right by a medical tent....whoops!
Mile 18 I saw a friend from my children's school who helped me out a lot when I first started running. It was so great to see him and so well needed. I knew the Run Mummy Run girls and my family were coming up at mile 19 so I carried on in a run and hobble fashion. It was so good to see the cheer squad but they weren't letting me stay for too long! I was pushed on quite quickly, bless them.
At mile 20 I was in bits and my cousin got the tears next but she was amazing and on I went. Now the focus was mile 23.
Having been on the other side of mile 23 I wanted to get there smiling the ankle felt a tiny bit better so I picked up the pace relatively speaking. After all I had my place in one of the most iconic races in the world because of you,guys. The Eagles have been training buddies, advice givers and fantastic support throughout....I wasn't going to let anyone see I was in pain and I was determined to rock the flyby!
Flyby rocked and I was on my way home. I did make sure I appreciated the sights and the atmosphere.
I have never been so glad to see the London eye. I knew I was going to do this, I was going to be be of the one percent of the population who have run a marathon. The crowd were electric. I knew I could not stop despite my ankle hurting again as I knew I wouldn't start again. I carried on....and did get carried by the crowd.
I turned onto the mall and the smile went on. I knew most my photos wouldn't be good as I don't have a poker face (just an in pain race face!) so wanted one or two decent ones. I finished!
I got my photo, got my bag ( with potentially an exclusive t shirt as it has no adidas stripes on!) and headed to go and see Mark and my family. It was emotional! I had finished the marathon. After all the doubting I was a marathon runner!
I have been celebrating the last two days and taking advantage of the free food with your medal. Also catching up on drinking!
I have also been trying to process how I feel about it all.
I guess the answer is mixed. I always said I wanted to finish the marathon smiling and enjoy it. Well I did that. I made sure I did. I had to slow right down to do it but I stuck to my guns, adjusted and blasted that goal out of the water!
However ( this is the really honest bit I wondered whether to put in, but I have prided myself in being very honest about everything in my blog and I'm not going to change now) I had expected to be sub 5 ...all my training had pointed to this being a goal I could definitely achieve and I do feel ( rightly or wrongly) I failed in that respect. This makes me feel sad, I trained so hard and was so out from where I had expected to be. I am so frustrated with my ankle and how hard I found run in on it. Somehow I feel like it's my fault....not quite sure how or why but I do!
On the upside I am so proud to be a marathon runner. I am so proud to have raised so much money, thanks to all my sponsors, for such a brilliant cause...the charity Mencap. I am over the moon to have the support and love of the Eagles, Run Mummy Run and my friends and family.
Would I recommend doing a marathon? Absolutely. If I can do it I honestly believe anyone can.
Would I do another one? HELL, YEAH!
Thank you to everyone who has supported me on my journey, my training buddies, people who have sent messages of support, my friends and family, the RMR crew and my wonderful coach Mark who I can't thank enough for investing so much time and faith in me.
Thank you too Eagles, from the bottom of my heart. You gave me the opportunity of a lifetime.