So yesterday I completed my first (and most likely last) marathon. What a feeling of joy and relief as I crossed the line – fantastic!
My marathon weekend started on the Friday with a trip to collect my race number. I took Sam with me as she really wanted to be part of the weekend. To be honest I was a little disappointed with the exhibition, but we had a nice stop for lunch in arundel en route back.
I managed to take it fairly easy on Saturday and even sat at the football to save my legs. Sam cooked the evening meal which was a nice treat and also delicious. With advice of – keep hydrated, but not alcohol – ringing in my ears, I only had one large glass of wine with my meal. Then after watching a film (Blood Diamond – quite good) off to bed. I almost don’t know why I bothered as I barely slept. I knew , and had known for some days, that I should have deferred my entry as my chest infection hadn’t cleared up properly, but I had said I would do it and to be honest couldn’t face not doing it – both letting people down and having to train again next year.
So Sunday, race day. An early start with me switching the alarm off at 5:05 as I was fully awake and there was no need to wait for it to go off ten minutes later. I went through my usual pre race routines which mainly involve going to the toilet between every other task! Then off to meet Catty.
Catty turned up promptly at 6:15 with Dazza already in attendance. So we set off to Brighton. Little traffic on the road meant that we made good time and got to the queue for the car park with ample time in hand. At this stage I could feel that another visit to the toilet would be beneficial so after parking up and getting the bus to the start area, my first stop was the toilets. I have to mention how clean and fresh the toilets were, really well done by the organisers.
Now I had a good hour to kill before the start. We wandered around the park and then I spotted the Headway chaps and stopped by to say hello and get a photo with them. Next, off to the MS Society chaps and another chat and photo. The MS guys gave Catty a little MS flag which proved to be helpful for me spotting them around the run. About 20 minutes before the race I left Catty and Dazza and went off to join my start pen – for the first time for days I felt all of my nerves disappear.
The time really dragged until I heard the starting horn, we cheered, got ready to move, then nothing! About 5 minutes later the leading bunch of elite runners went past us – they were in their second mile and we hadn’t even moved. Eventually we did move and about 15 yards from the line I ditched my hoodie. As I crossed the line I even got a high five from Paula Radcliffe!
The first mile includes a hill which was far longer than I anticipated, but no major issue. It was also lifting to get a cheer from Catty and Dazza as I went up the hill. After going down the hill I started to get into a rhythm, it was helped by following four young ladies running together as it stopped me going off too fast. The first 5 or 6 miles were around the city centre and passed easily enough. After this we headed onto the seafront away from Brighton. Fortunately the weather forecasters were wrong and the strong winds and rain didn’t materialise. But we had another hill to climb, not too bad but I hadn’t anticipated this part to be so hilly. After the hill, I progressed steadily but as we neared Ovingdean I started to struggle with my breathing. This at about only 8.5 miles was quite concerning, but I kept going and tried to get my breathing more controlled. As we turned at Ovingdean we headed back along the seafront towards Brighton. It was also into the breeze and that really hurt my breathing. I slowed down but kept going keeping in mind that I have easily completed half marathons in worse conditions than this. I passed Catty and Dazza at about 12 miles and they could tell that I was struggling.
The next couple of miles were hard, but then as I got through 14 miles I struggled even more. This time to the extent that I considered retiring from the race. For the next four miles or so I had mental arguments with myself over whether to keep going or do the sensible thing and retire. I knew people would understand and be supportive, but I really didn’t want to give in. I thought a lot about Sam during this stage and that really helped – she has refused to give in so I wasn’t going to either!
As I moved towards mile 19 I had a chat with a chap called Joel, he was struggling too but we both agreed that there were more miles behind us than in front so we would succeed – and I believe I saw him finish as I waddled off towards meeting Catty and Dazza after the end.
We now headed onto the seafront and away from Brighton towards Shoreham and it’s power station. At last a landmark to head towards. That raised my spirits and I continued. As I neared the power station I passed the 20 mile mark and knew that I would finish; not with the time I wanted but I would finish!
That is when my right knee started to hurt. It became so painful that I forgot how bad my breathing was. But then I turned for home and could see Brighton pier – ok, still another 5+ miles to go, but I could see the finish. I blocked out most of the crowd at this stage as I concentrated on moving forward towards the finish. As I went under the Team Panda bridge I felt a surge and it really lifted me as I knew there was very little distance to go.
As the pier got closer so it was easier. As I passed the 400 metre board and could really see the finish line I started to become quite emotional. Then I saw Catty and Dazza cheering me from the side and I got even more emotional, I was almost there, I had almost completed a marathon! As I crossed the line I kissed my wedding ring, thought of Sam and shed a tear or two!
I don’t know how to describe why I set out to do this but I guess that it was to in some way show support for Sam. I don’t know if this does that or not, but I have managed to raise a few pounds en route. Of course, if you haven’t sponsored me yet, it’s not too late just click here and give what you can.