Running

26.2 little miles

Dearest blog readers,

I appreciate I have somewhat been neglecting you all. However, the small matter of the London Marathon kind of took over my life for the last few weeks.

Training has continued as usual but with the setback of two colds and a very sore chest which knocked me out for a while and left me wondering whether I would actually be able to run.

But with the first anniversary of Graham’s death came the reminder of my sole purpose of undertaking this task, what happened to my wonderful brother has to end, and sooner rather than later.

The donations in the final week before the marathon soared and we now stand at just over ยฃ2000. Words cannot describe just how overwhelmed I have been with people’s generosity, with some donors giving for the second and third times. Everyone is simply amazing. And I haven’t even collected from a lot of people back home so we look to have a good total soon.

Mileage needs to be totted up but will post that next week.

Now, about that ‘run’ (as family would put it)…….

As I spent the night before the race preening and attaching some hideously orange nails to my under manicured hands, I pondered over what lay ahead. I worried whether or not my alarm would go off, what effect my night shift the previous night would have on my running, would I even make it round the course???!

I also spent the evening looking forward to meeting some of the many wonderful people I had begun to know over the previous four months on the MDC Facebook thread. I have learnt a great deal about other forms of dystrophies, when I had previously neglected to learn about them, as I’d become so wrapped up in Duchenne. I had also begun to appreciate that there are so many wonderful characters out there that are completely selfless in their actions. Kinda restores your faith in the human race a little!

It took me a rather long time to get to sleep that night, and I drunk a little too much before going to bed so was up twice to the loo, but on the whole didn’t sleep too bad. The morning came and as I entered our lounge to my hugely organised and laid out kit, the nerves hit. I forced down a rather large bowl of sugared porridge, slapped on some bright blue eyeshadow, and made my way to the station. I wasn’t alone, the platform was packed with many more people on their own journeys into the capital to undertake a challenge that, quite frankly, is insane. I wondered whether they were all as nervous as I was, if they were they did a good job of hiding it!

I had arranged to meet another MDC runner on the train, Chelsea, who turned out to be a rather delightful little glimmer of light, taking my mind off the journey ahead. She shared her own story of her reasons for running and she reminded me of the first time I ran the marathon and the hope my family and I all had. The hope that SOMETHING would be found to take all of Graham’s pain away one day. She had such a will to fight for her family, and although this was her first experience of the marathon I knew she was going to be just fine. And actually, although it is too late for Graham, there are so many families out there that need a cure….. And soon. They need people to keep raising awareness and much needed funds to keeping their hope alive. And that’s exactly what I was now running for.

We arrived at Greenwich Park in glorious sunshine, and we just knew it was going to be a beautiful day. There was a buzz around the whole park and gradually two MDC runners became three, then four, then five…….. Before we knew it there was a gaggle of us. It was so lovely to put faces to names and it felt as if we already knew each other! A group photo and it was off to put our bags on the baggage lorries, have a last minute toilet stop, and be herded into our pens.

The pen was alive with excitement, nerves and adrenaline, everybody just wanted to get running by now, me included. Silence descends and suddenly 35,000 people stop, albeit briefly, to remember those affected by the Boston Bombings just six days earlier. I think we all had a sense that this marathon was as much for them as for London. As the silence ends a roar of cheers and whistles fill the air, and it is time. Time to run. 26.2 miles. See you on the other side.

It took us 15 minutes to cross the start line, but when we did it felt great to be running. 4 months of hard training all for this moment. Remembering not to go off too fast, and actually slowing myself down was difficult, but eventually everyone found their pace and we settled in for the long run ahead.

London was alive, people from all corners of the capital were out to cheer us on, complete strangers calling our names, in a mutual appreciation of the feat we were completing. They were willing every single runner on. No one was left out. The first major landmark of the Cutty Sark arrived at 6 miles, and the crowds were magnificent, I felt like I was running on air around her. This amazing vessel had sadly been in a fire shortly before my first marathon in 2007, and was still being restored for my second in 2008, and so this was my first time of seeing her in full glory, and it was well worth the wait. I couldn’t wait to see some familiar faces along the course…. And the first came at mile 7.

Julia, an ex MDC worker, who had seen me through my first two marathons, was at her current charity cheer point. I literally crashed into her, giving her an enormous hug and nearly dragged her down, poor thing! Still feeling strong I carried on, checking my phone to see if my husband and beautiful daughters has made in to cheer me on. They had and were waiting for me at mile 9. Mile 8 came and mile 9 seemed to take and eternity to arrive, but eventually it did and just as the crowds were dying out I saw the familiar red of our enormous double buggy and my husband clad in a bright orange tee. I was immediately lifted and after a quick hug, jelly babies, and spur on, we were off again!

The next two miles went quickly and we were constantly having sneak peaks of the north side of the river and its famous landmarks that awaited our arrival. I saw yet another familiar face, and my fundraising squirrel, Sabrina, with her family. All dressed in orange, the colour of the charity, they greeted me with such enthusiasm and joy that I felt like I could run forever for all the people I promised I would. Another mouthful of jelly babies and it was time to run again. I daren’t stop for too long in case I seized up!

Chelsea had since heard from her family who told her they were waiting at mile 12, not far away, which reminded us we were approaching our next landmark, Tower Bridge. We passed our first charity cheer point as we approached the bridge and they reminded me of my purpose to run again, and made an awful lot of noise. Made me feel incredibly special. Chelsea then saw her family and I could see she was taken aback and relieved that they had made it into London to cheer her on.

Suddenly we were half way. I heard my friend Emma and her sister Carly screaming at me from the other side of the highway and I gave a massive leap for joy (didn’t think I’d be able to after 14 miles if running!). However, the dreaded Isle of Dogs lay ahead. I simply hate that part of the course, and this year was no different. I think I have developed a mental block over this part of the course. By 21 miles I was feeling every single step through my legs which felt like concrete and no amount of lucozade, glucose, or water was making it better. Emma and Carly were still waiting on the highway shortly after mile 22 and Emma gave me the biggest squeeze and I just wanted to cry. She told me I was doing great but I felt awful! I knew it was only 4 miles away, and kept telling myself that 4 miles was a relatively short training run in context, but the finish line couldn’t come quick enough. Chelsea was still going strong so I urged her to go on without me, and I adopted a walk run tactic to get me to the end.

I needed a toilet break at mile 23 (cursing as the loos were way off the course!) and I just sat for about 10 minutes, crying, and just wanting to go to bed! I’m not sure how but I gathered myself together and continued running and walking as best I could.

I vaguely remember the charity cheer point at mile 24/25 but I was so zoned out at this point that it may have been a mirage! The crowds were still strong and willing me in calling my name, but I barely had any energy to even thank them.

Suddenly from nowhere mile 25 and Big Ben were in my site. This was it! I was going to do it! All the familiar landmarks of completing the marathon were in site. I simply ran. As strongly as I could, and suddenly, with The Mall beneath my feet, I was sprinting to the finish line. 5hrs 47mins. Cue tears and thanks to god…..

The rest as they say is history but I collected my medal, found my beautiful family and stumbled home to eat a McDonald’s, and go to sleep. I am still amazed that I actually did it, I really hope Graham was looking down on me and lifting through those last four miles. I couldn’t have done it if it wasn’t for him.

So, the biggest race of this years challenge is done. But I still have I phenomenal number of miles to complete, and a fresh challenge. Next race is a 10k race and I am looking forward to a change in training, and feeling less tired every day and being more sociable!!!! Not to mention, keeping up with my blog of course!

I am of course still accepting donations at

http://www.justgiving.com/sarahandmatt5racechallenge

Big love to you all!

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4 thoughts on “26.2 little miles

  1. Sarah – huge respect. I was also running on Sunday and, after reading your blog (and following it for a while), feel like I was running beside you because, apart from the loo break (!) I felt the same pain at the same miles as you did. But the enormous mental strength that you managed to call upon is truely remarkable and, fuelled by the love for your brother, shows the world that (with the determination of you, me and many others) a cure for DMD is not a dream but a very real probability. Huge, huge congratulations. Well done (and best of luck with the next 10k, not that you’ll need it).

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    1. Mark, thank you so much for your kind words. I still can’t really believe it is all over, a little of an anti climax feeling here! So pleased I have another race to focus on, otherwise I’d be a bit in limbo!

      And well done to you too! Anyone who completes a marathon deserve a bloody good hard pat on the back!

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  2. Wow!! Sorry iv only just got round to reading this!! You have done amazingly and tbh the time u did it in makes no difference. You should be so proud of yourself for finishing in one piece, raising a massive ยฃ2000+ and doing it for your brothers memory and everyone else who is affected by some form of muscular dystrophy!! Your such an inspiration and your whole family must be chuffed to bits! I’m not quite ready to run a marathon myself but I may look to booking time off work and cheering on team orange next year!! As I’m sure you would agree the more support the runners receive the easier it makes it for you! I will share your blog out to all my Facebook friends and tweeps so hopefully it may lead to more donations. Keep up the fabulous work hunny and maybe we shall bump into each other soon ๐Ÿ™‚

    Sam x

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  3. Sarah, I have just read your post of your experience of the marathon. It’s so beautifully written, I felt quite choked up reading it. As I’ve said many times, you ARE an inspiration and you should be sooooo proud of yourself.

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