My marathon day…

Marathon Day dawned. Yes, I was awake to see it, the dawn that is. I had intended an early night and decent night’s sleep. But, this didn’t happen; I had read time and time again, to make sure you get a good night’s sleep on the Friday, because the night before the marathon, nerves and excitement can hinder sleep. With Oliver’s birthday party, and just generally being unorganised, I didn’t get to bed until well after midnight on the Friday night. I had thought that this would mean, my head would hit the pillow and I would sleep by the time bedtime came on Saturday, but this did not happen either. But anyway, sleep or no sleep I had a marathon to do! I got up and had a lovely soak in the bath before I woke the children up…

I made the kids their breakfast and literally gagged down my porridge. Having eaten so much porridge and pasta before the marathon, I am in no rush to eat either again. By the time I had dressed myself and pointed the children in the direction of their clothes, it was time for me to say good bye to them. I had decided to travel down to London by train with my friend Rachael without the children, just so I could have a little while to get out of “mummy” mode and into “marathon runner” mode. I will say at this point I didn’t really ever manage to get my head round the enormity of the whole event…I was nervous; there’s no other way to say it.. A moment of slight panic on the train was caused by us checking the tracker I was to wear so that Mix 96 could follow my progress. We were very near London but, the tracker was saying I was still at home. A phone call later, for a bit of technical support, and it was sorted.  We arrived in Euston and swiftly headed towards the underground. It was here, I was approached by a woman and her dad, she had seen me wearing my CLIC hoody. We got chatting, she is a social worker for CLIC Sargent in Birmingham, when I told her why I was running the marathon; she started crying and her dad simply kissed me on the cheek, luckily I didn’t have time to think…I had a train to catch; otherwise, I would have been a blubbing mess too!

Suddenly, every other person seemed to be carrying a red London Marathon bag…the train was full of runners and for a moment I felt like a fraud! I was still struggling to get my head into gear and focus. I just kept thinking the worst…I won’t do it, I can’t do it. However hard I tried, I couldn’t get a positive thought into my head, it was an awful experience.. The train pulled up and I knew time was not on our side, we had to get a move on, and so, we became part of the mass of people with red bags and trainers…and scuttled towards the start line. Why oh why did they put the start at the top of a hill? That’s just not fair. But, I guess, it helped with the warming up. We reached the point of absolutely no return, I had to say good bye to Rachael, and I will admit now, I did have a sneaky cry…it reminded me of boarding school, the dread in the pit of your stomach as you gave your parents that final kiss and cuddle goodbye at the start of term, when all you really want to do, is get back in the car with them and go home….I gave Rachael a hug and a kiss and just walked off…I couldn’t even turn around to wave. I finally reached the top of the hill, people were crowded in the pens waiting to go, I made a final check to make sure I had everything I needed on me, and went to find the truck that would take my bag to the finish line. Bloody typical…mine was the furthest away! As time was ticking by, I jogged to the truck and handed over my bag, forgetting to take out my bottle of water. I got to the pen, hearing Ant and Dec giving the commentary over the loudspeaker, and joined the masses. Seeing the man who intends to crawl round made me smile and think of a few emails I have had recently, seeing the man with the washing machine on his back, and so many other amazing outfits,  all in all, it was an amazing sight. It was at this point as the crowd was moving forward, I remembered I hadn’t been to the loo, the nearest ones that I could see were back through the barriers, seeing as I was near enough the back already, I didn’t dare go as I had a feeling that by the time I got back to the pen everyone would have left, leaving me to start the marathon on my own! Again it all became a bit too much, and the tears started. No! I am not normally such a wimp, but after six months and more of building up to this day, things just weren’t going to plan. Luckily for me, I received a text from my lovely friend Lindsay, which managed to get me back on track…it read ”thinking of you, you go girl, see u later x” believe me, that couldn’t have come at a better time, I texted straight back to say I was having a wobbly moment, and received a text back to say ”Chin up mate, Cry when u reach the mall, I will give you a cuddle later xxx”

This is what I mean about the support, I have honestly made some lifelong friends, without whom, I couldn’t have done this… The next couple of texts I received were from my kids, the first one said ”making sure you’re ok, we’ll see you soon” and from my Emily, which read ”C’mon mummy! You can do it! Get to the finish line, remember, its all about the taking part and finishing before the running washing machine!! don’t worry if the crawler person gets in front of you, just keep breathing calmly!! Love you GOOD LUCK!!!!!”

I replied just as I was getting to the start line, and then, that was it…I was running…

London Marathon 2011 hot air balloons

The first mile, not even three minutes in, the men were lined up alongside the road making me feel really jealous!! But, I just didn’t feel right about doing a Paula Radcliffe so early on, so I kept my eyes open for the first sign for the loos. I carried on jogging and was amazed, I had read about and heard about the support, but from the minute go, the crowd was amazing. The weather was lovely, too lovely to be honest, by the time I came across the priest who was spraying the runners with holy water…it truly was a God send. Finally, I reached the first loo stop, and the queue was about 10,000 deep. Ok maybe not that many, but, I couldn’t see the point in stopping and waiting, I would rather just push on to the next one…

At which point, Andy texted me, which made me smile ”What a lovely day for a run” to which I very politely (well, sort of politely) replied that it was far too hot!! He did then text and ask how the leg was, but, I didn’t reply at that time, as it was feeling ok and I didn’t want to tempt fate…

Spectators view

Spectators view

So, I carried on, the sides of the roads were full of people shouting us all on, the kiddies held out their little hands for a high five. It was somewhere along this stretch that I remembered the advice I had been given…start off slowly! Oops! I slowed down to a fast walk and past the next block of loos! The queue here was huge too! I hadn’t bothered with my iPod at all, mainly because I didn’t have time to put it on before I set off. But I wasn’t actually that bothered, I didn’t want to miss out on the atmosphere. It was during mile 3 that I got talking to a lady, Patti was her name, she was absolutely lovely…we shared stories, jogged a little, walked a bit. Time was passing fairly quickly by now, as was the need for a wee. As we passed a huge group of very enthusiastic people outside a pub, we looked at each other and sort of silently agreed…we nipped through the crowd and ran into the pub loo! I made a quick phone call to Rachael to tell her I was in the pub! And then we set of again. As it was so hot, we made sure we grabbed a bottle of water at every drink stop, and Lucozade at every alternate one. We got into a rhythm, walk a bit, jog a bit, it was all going ok. The miles seemed to be passing fairly quickly, the only problem being, not only were the miles marked out by huge great big red and white pillars and balloons, the kilometres where marked out too. This did get a bit confusing, when all you are looking for is the next mile mark in the distance and you see what you think is it, only to find out that is just a km mark, at some stages round the course this felt like mental torture!

I was amazed at the amount of people who, don’t get me wrong were amazingly encouraging but blimey, they were drunk. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like a drink or two, but before midday?! Nevertheless, they were fantastic at shouting us on our way!

We passed mile seven, then I saw Rachael in the crowd, we had a quick hug and a chat and I set off again…the crowds at this stage where huge, the screaming and shouting and chanting was unbelievable. Then in the distance I saw a group of small, medium and large people in white t shirts…”the clan”! I cannot put into words how pleased I was to see them, I hadn’t been told where they would be, or how many times I would see them….I ran, oh how I ran, my kids screaming at me…it was truly magical. I stopped for a cuddle or seven, ok maybe nine! And a quick top up of water and a few jelly beans…

Seeing the kids for the 1st time...

And then, I was off again, I caught up with Patti and we carried on in our stride until I saw another group of people who had come down for the day…my little buddy’s dad being one of them, again hugs and kisses, and a few words and I set off again. I stuck with Patti, my running buddy, until…I felt my leg playing up, panic set in, I carried on, but it was getting worse and worse until, I knew I had to do something, so, I rang Andy, who was lying in his garden enjoying the sunshine, so he told me (Oh and suffering with flu!) We decided it would be a good idea for me to pull over and have a good stretch…so, I did as I was told (for once) and it seemed to help for a little while, but I was still in a lot of pain, and bless him, Lindsay again, right on cue, texted me to say “ You’re doing well. Keep going xxx” so, I did! I approached Tower Bridge and Rachael rang me to ask where I was, I hadn’t seen anyone for what seemed like a lifetime, so I was really pleased that she would be on the bridge…the run up to the bridge was fantastic, the noise coming from the spectators spurred us all on,  then, I saw the first CLIC supporters group…I ran past laughing as they screamed at me and somewhere on a loudspeaker I heard someone saying “Well done Sarah running for CLIC Sargent…keep going”…I ran off the bridge, missing Rachael, but that’s another story, something to do with her going to London Bridge not Tower Bridge, say no more on that one. Eventually I reached the bit that I had been warned about…The Highway, the part of the marathon, where you still have about thirteen miles to run and down the other side of the road, thousands of people are on their way back, having only got about four miles left to the finish line…it was here, things really started to go wrong. I had to do something, fast. I jogged, then walked and finally gave into the pain, and hobbled over to the St John’s Ambulance people…I could hardly speak. I took a deep breath and said, I need a massage or something…please…they all stood around and looked at me, I tried to explain that my leg was about to fall off, and could someone please just give me a massage, mainly to help with the cramp, again, they looked at me, and then had a discussion. Now, can you bear in mind, at this point of the marathon, we are on a road that is divided only by metal barriers, there are thousands of people running the other way down the road, there are hundreds of people lining the road cheering us on…so, when the SJA people asked if I would mind pulling down my leggings so they could massage me without the material interfering…well, my mind started working overtime, trying to remember exactly what knickers I had put on that morning…when I remembered that they weren’t a lovely pair of La Perla ones, I quickly replied that I didn’t have time and could they just do it over the top of my leggings! Ok, I guess, had I dropped my leggings at that stage, a few thousand people would be grateful, as their finish time would have been so much quicker, but, me being me, wasn’t willing to reveal my Tesco bought pants!

So, I stood leaning against the railings while some poor girl tried to help, I knew at this stage, I had lost my running buddy as there was no way I could catch her up, and I also knew, that despite her best efforts, the whole ten minutes had been a complete waste of time…but, I thanked her, and gave her the information she needed, and swiftly moved on. So, I was on my own…I needed a little boost, so I plugged in my iPod and listened to Green Day as I walked on and on, I ended up only putting in one earplug as the crowd was so loud I couldn’t really hear the music…I came across another group of St John’s Ambulance people, and again asked for help, I directed my plea at a bloke this time…knowing that he wouldn’t ask me to remove my leggings!! But, also knowing that maybe he would be slightly more use, he massaged my leg and as I walked away, I could actually feel a bit of a difference! I met up with someone else and we got chatting, so, again, the iPod was turned off. And then again, in the distance I saw my kids…I jogged up to them and again, lots of kisses and hugs, albeit sticky ones as they were enjoying an ice cream in the sunshine. It was here I noticed Jai was not right, my heart sank, he looked awful. He was in the pram, white as a sheet. Oh, how I was torn I knew I needed to carry on, but I just wanted to stop and make sure he was ok.

My poorly boy.

My eldest, seeing the look on my face decided to snap me out of it…wearing a pair of Toms on his feet, he announced he was joining me…so, off we went, now, this is the person, who came first in the “26 people run a mile though the village” and for him, running a mile, usually takes about 5 minutes (no, he doesn’t get it from me) so, I warned him, not to nag me, not to make me run, but just to go along with me. I was still in a bit of pain, but, I knew I only had 10 miles left to do…we walked, we jogged, we laughed at the amazing atmosphere…Benji tried to get me to run, but, I just couldn’t do it….

The texts messages kept coming, every so often, both Andy and Lindsay would text me encouraging me to carry on…They were truly amazing, and I will always remember the support they showed me…

Mile 17 passed, and then mile 18, it was here I was surprised by my kids again…who had met up with Rachael.

Mile 17

A kick in the right direction

After which they had jumped on the Docklands light railway and made it just in time to shout a bit more…

Still going!

At this point there was some confusion, another runner had lost count of the miles and thought we were a mile ahead of ourselves…I knew we weren’t, but there was a glimmer of doubt and yes, hope…but, alas, no! We were where we thought we were, I don’t remember a lot about the next couple of miles, I know, my little buddy’s dad joined us at some stage at about mile 22 and we walked together for a little time, which was great … I also know, that as I passed each mile marker there was a huge sense of relief, and emotions started to get the better of me again, I was hot, I was tired and I was thinking of a certain small person who wouldn’t be at the finish line. Just as I was about to yet again, totally fall apart…my kids where all sitting by the side of the road, I didn’t stop I carried on, knowing if I had stopped for even a second, then that would be it! Then, there it was in front of us, mile 25…oh! Did that mile marker give me a boost! Benji asked if I could manage a jog…I looked at him, and spurred on by the people along the side of the road, I actually managed to jog! Not for long, but long enough to make mile 26 arrive even quicker! I knew that once I saw Big Ben, I was so close to the finish…the excitement of seeing the London Eye, Big Ben and then my kids…helped me to put one foot in front of the other…I had so nearly done it, but boy, that last mile and a bit, dragged on and on and on! Benji couldn’t come over the finish line with me, so, he said goodbye to me by the Houses of Parliament…and I was left to do the last stretch on my own. The last 800 metres are marked out, at the 600 metre mark, someone in the crowd shouted “come on Sarah, only 600 metres to go” I did manage to shout back to them something about it feeling like another 600 miles, I turned the corner and saw the finish line, I couldn’t contain my excitement anymore…I ran over that finish line, and yes, I cried!! The relief, the pride, the pain, and then, I received my medal!!! …I did it! I bloody did it!

The kids raided my bag of goodies

Benji and Clare

Watching the marathon is just so exhausting

The Clan

I had imagined getting home having a relaxing bath, maybe a glass of wine and a DVD, but, oh no! My life is never that simple…we ended up getting home, I did manage a very quick dip, and then it was off to A and E with Jai…

Will I do it again? Absolutely yes! I have no doubt about that at all, I have already signed up for the Race for Life in a few weeks! Did I ever even think about catching the marathon bug? No! I honestly didn’t, I didn’t think I would ever wear a pair of trainers again…but, as we all know very well, life is full of surprises!

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9 Responses to My marathon day…

  1. Jo says:

    Such a fab blog entry, you did great x

  2. So proud of you! You did brilliantly. And the least said about London Bridge, the better. Ahem. Haha. xxxx

  3. Lindsay Summers says:

    I still owe you a cuddle xxx

  4. Andrew says:

    Fantastic job Sarah, you did us all proud. Same again next year… 🙂

  5. Laura-Jean Smith says:

    Well done Sarah, Knew you would do it!!! AMAZING!! xxx

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