After a week of eating copious amounts of rice, pasta, potatoes and sweet things, it is done. I finished my first marathon in one piece.
Arriving in Greenwich Park at 8:30am in sideways rain is not the way I normally like to start my Sundays, but I did pray (despite my atheism) for rain on race day and down it came, soaking the many thousands of runners standing anxiously in the portaloo queues waiting for the all-important pre-race relief.
Once over the start line (between a womble, some fairies, a polystyrene wall and a dinasour), the first six miles passed in a flash, steaming past a variety of wonderful seldom-seen south-east London treats: a Woolwich pub turned into a pirate ship; a priest throwing holy water on passing runners; a mini brass-band squeezed into a front yard; a myriad of brave late-April street side barbecues; and morris-dancing ladies. Seeing friends at 6 and 11 miles was fantastic. And suddenly I was at Tower Bridge, and the crowds were immense and roary.
Things got a lot tougher between about 14 and 20 miles – having run around the Isle of Dogs during training I was ready for it to be tricky, but the humidity and the sense of shared dread among the runners, combined with the dwindling crowds, made it really hard going. At about 17 miles I bumped into a friend J, and then the t’other J met me at 21 for a sip of tea which I think powered me on past mile 22 and a gaggle of amazing, cacophonous Uni friends onwards to the finish, where the hundreds of people shouting my name – My Name – and grinning madly when I made eye contact – spurred me on towards the finish.
Crossing the finish line was followed by wave after wave of relief, rather than immediate euphoria, which has slowly, quietly grown over the last day or so as the enormity of this achievement, the focus of last four months, has sunk in. I started training in November, and since then I’ve since skidded around Hyde Park in sub-zero temperatures with the amazing Howard, grappled with achilles tendonitis, suffered a pretty aggravating metacarpal fracture, dodged the coast road traffic at rush hour in Cape Town, and been locked in two of London’s parks after running around them too late. Despite all this, I managed to finish my first marathon in five hours and one minute. And my legs are feeling every second of it.
The main and best thing though is that with your help I smashed my Shelter fundraising target of £1600 to raise well over £2000 – and there’s still time to sponsor me if you haven’t already. Thanks so much for your support.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be down the pub…
- Number of tears shed: a fair few
- Litres of water drunk: 4
- Number of jelly babies eaten: many
- Days to go until the next one: we’ll see