We had decided to try and remove some of the stress by staying in a Travel Lodge in Docklands the night before.The alarm duly went off at 5.45am... an early start, battling on Docklands Light Railway with hundreds of other runners to get to Blackheath. Fortunately storm Hannah appeared to have subsided and the temperature whilst cold for spectators was ideal for us runners.
My long suffering hubby left me when I passed though the Blue start … I was now on my own with several thousands of other runners! So many thoughts going through my head; had I got my gels, inhaler, phone, etc. The atmosphere was upbeat and very friendly. I handed over my bag onto the baggage lorries and made my way to the allotted zone. I chatted to people around me, all exchanging stories about how we had got to this point.
Then with the start imminent my bladder made its presence felt. ‘Oh God’ I thought… ‘too late to do anything now… I’d have to wait to find a toilet en route!’
Then came the announcement, the race for the masses had started and everyone started divesting themselves of their old clothes in readiness!
And so we were off. We went round a bend to hear shouts of ‘Hump’, ‘Mind the hump’ with marshals waving placards, and the sound of giggling runners and we did indeed mind the humps.
Mile 2 came my comfort break, and off I went again… I knew my hubby, daughter and grandson were waiting to cheer me on at the Gypsy Moth pub next to the Cutty Sark at mile 6. Remembering this from when I ran the marathon in 2015 I reached the pub and started waving furiously…. I couldn’t see them but I hoped they could see me. There also were the TV cameras so we all waved and cheered, a very heart warming moment.
On I went trying to look out for other friends who I knew were coming to watch, the streets lined with spectators. ‘Follow that blue line’, I remembered Andy my coach saying to me as that would be the shortest distance as measured by official course measurers. Well all I can say is that line kept meandering from one side of the road to the other. Not as easy to follow as it sounds!
What amazing sights though; `Save the Rhinos` out in force again, `Big Ben`, a `Human Duke Box`, just to name but a few. And so onto half way at Tower bridge, what an iconic structure.
As I was reveling in the crowd and what a lovely atmosphere it was, around mile 15 I started getting a few flickers from my calf…. ‘Oh no’, I thought, ‘don’t go into cramp…..’! I knew at this point I mustn’t stop I just had to keep going, even when people in front of you stopped at a bottle neck I walked on the spot to keep my calves moving. Eventually around mile 18 it wore off… ‘Thank God for that’. I did feel a pang at this point as I’d seen many runners meeting their families and friends en route and stopping to give them hugs and I couldn’t see anybody I knew. However the crowds were fabulous, and my bright yellow Huntingdon Blind Society logo and my name also in bright yellow on my vest top was getting me lots of shouts of ‘keep going’, ‘doing well,’’ you’ve smashed this’, etc., so I wasn’t really on my own.
On I went, mile 20 and all going well. Mile 22 around Limehouse and Wapping and I was now having to dig in, playing mind games with myself, reciting mantras and using visualisations of familiar 4 mile routes at home, etc. As we passed through the City of London the crowds became ever bigger and noisier cheering us on, calling our names, spurring us on in those last few miles.
A time of 4hrs 18mins 33secs. Several minutes faster than my 2015 attempt.
It was at that point I really missed my friend Lisa that I’d run the marathon within 2015… There was no-one to hug. Then coming towards me was a smiley faced marshal with my medal… ‘Well done’ she said as she gave me a quick hug and placed the medal round my neck.... ‘You made it!’
And so it was over…. As I stopped running my knee ached and I limped over to collect my goody bag, onto baggage collection and then headed out to meet the family. My coaching and plan from Andy had paid off.
Such an emotional day… and such an iconic race… I still maintain if you’re going to run a marathon it just has to be London!
At this point I’m not entirely sure how much I’ve raised for the Huntingdonshire Society for the Blind. I think somewhere in the region of £1,500.
It's still possible to donate at Virgin Money Giving.