This Sunday, along with 40,300 other people, I took part in the London Marathon. I was meant to do it last year, but due to Dougie-shaped pregnancy reasons, I deferred my place. I was lucky enough to get a ballot place but I still wanted to try and raise some money for charity – I’ve written about why I was running and who I was raising money for here (it’s not too late if anyone wants to sponsor me…)
Training for a marathon is hard, long and tiring. Training for a marathon with a baby is equally hard, long and tiring, but throw in sleep deprivation and a buggy for a companion and it got a whole lot harder. I’m still breastfeeding Dougie, and so my long runs had to be fitted around his feeds, and I often ran with him in his running buggy, which I love having but I found I couldn’t run as far or as fast. I had to build my fitness up again as obviously being pregnant/recovering from having a baby limited me, but I did as much training as I could in the build up to the marathon.
The morning of the race arrived, and I was much more nervous than I thought I’d be. My mum had come down to watch, and Sam and Dougie were coming to watch too. I was never bothered about how long it would take me, but as I said before, I’m still feeding Dougie, so I had to make sure he had bottles and I was a bit anxious about how I’d feel – I even debated doing a quick feeding pit-stop if I saw them on the route!
The race started at 10am sharp, though it took me a few minutes to get over the start line. Everyone always talks about the atmosphere at the London Marathon, so I was really looking forward to all the landmarks. The first few km passed by quite quickly, and when I reached Greenwich, the atmosphere was incredible. I went to uni in Greenwich and I’ve always loved the area, so it was amazing to run through there – people were hanging out of their windows, there was music pumping, and I loved seeing all the signs the spectators had made – including:
“If Trump can run America, you can run 26.2 miles”
“You’re running better than the government”
I loved seeing everyone’s costumes too – I saw unicorns, a few rhinos, one man running with a washing machine on his back, a couple of helicopters… it was amazing, I have so much respect for anyone who can run with any extra layers or weight!
My mum, Sam and Dougie had planned to head to mile 9, 14 and 21 to see me, so from about mile 8 I was looking out for them, which made the time pass quicker… but mile 9 came and went, and no sign of them. I was reasonably quick up until the halfway point, which I reached at 2 hours and 21 minutes, but by mile 14 I was starting to struggle, and still no sign of my family!
Miles 14 – 19ish are through Mudchute / Crossharbour area, and so although there are still spectators, there aren’t as many, nor are there impressive landmarks to focus on. This was also the point where I really started to feel the strain in my legs and my pelvis. I should add here, pregnancy and birth really, really weakens your pelvic floor muscles, and this was what I was most concerned about for the marathon. I slowed to a very slow jog and gradually turned this into a power walk for a couple of miles, jogging every now and again, and stopping to stretch. This was the time where I really wanted to give up, sit down on the pavement and have a little cry/sleep!
However, I pushed on, and the crowds through Canary Wharf were brilliant, and that spurred me on for a couple of miles – plus there were some nice downhill bits so that helped! I checked my phone and saw a message from Sam, telling me they were by Temple, and that was excellent motivation to keep going. By this point I’d been running for around 5 hours, and my body was pushed to its limit, but I kept going, telling myself that the quicker I finished, the quicker I could lie down! I finally saw Sam, Dougie, my mum and a couple of my friends just by mile 25, and I nearly cried! I ran over to them, greeted by a smile from Dougie which made me very happy, and I ran on, knowing I was SO close!
The last mile was fuelled by nothing other than a desire to finish, it really is mind over matter, I’d been running for nearly five and a half hours and was shattered, but it was there…the finish line. The last kilometre is marked by signs – 800m to go, 600m…400m…200m… These were almost teasing me! I forced myself to run the last 400m, and I crossed the finish line! At that point my exhilaration was clouded by exhaustion and a surreal feeling in my legs, they were basically jelly, moving of their own accord!
(These are my times, if anyone is interested!)
I had downloaded loads of podcasts to listen to, but my app stopped working for some reason, so naturally I ran the marathon listening to Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince…
Once I finally met up with Sam, Dougie and my mum, I collapsed onto the grass to feed Dougie, before slowly and achingly making our way home!
At the time of writing this, I’ve raised over £1000 for the South Knighton Memory Cafes, which will fund the cafes for over three months, and I’m so proud of this. To everyone who sponsored me, thank you, thank you, thank you!
I’ll be completely honest, I can’t say I’ve caught the “marathon bug”, but I love running, and I’m so proud of myself for running it, for finishing it and for pushing myself even when I wanted to give up.
This was one of the biggest and hardest challenges I’ve ever done – what’s your biggest challenge ever been?