So, we did it! Gerry, Sarah and I ran the London Marathon after months of training in snow, hail, high winds, and the odd bit of sunshine. There was injury, frustrating schedules when we couldn’t run, a lot of new kit, approximately 10 pairs of trainers, a million fundraising events, and lots of support.
Still in the afterglow of the marathon we were asked by our charities to give a few words about how it felt. So this is it:
It was so, so exciting! We all started together, which was amazing given that we thought we would never find each other amongst the thousands of other runners. Sarah and I spent the first 13 miles weaving in and out of competitors, feeling really strong, but at mile 18 it started to get truly tough. The crowd were utterly mind blowing, and kept us going. On many occasions I looked round to see if I knew the people speaking to me because it felt like they were cheering just me – the shouts of ‘come on, you’re looking strong, you can do it!’ were awesome (although I think they might have said this to everyone looking like they were about to pass out).
I passed a man doing seven marathons in seven days, a huge hulk of a man dressed as a Baywatch babe, Jesus (yes, actually on the cross), and a lady dressed as an ‘Essex girl’ running in 5” stilettos! It hit me at one point that I wasn’t going as fast as I’d thought when a man dressed as a phone box passed me, and someone actually walking shuffled passed me!
The weather was cold and wet, which was perfect for us, being used as we were to the Highlands in winter. There was a man DJing from his flat balcony to spur us on, and kids lined the streets with their hands outstretched to give us high fives all the way along the route. There were steel bands, African drums, jazz, and a Scottish band of pipe players which made us very emotional.
The supporters were fantastic! There were people with bananas, oranges, jelly beans- just because they wanted to do something to help all those people going through all kinds of pain. There were moments when I considered that I might be going crazy with all the thoughts that were running through my head, and moments when the crowd literally reduced me to tears.
Running along the embankment was phenomenal, and passing Big Ben knowing we only had a short way to go was the best thing ever… apart from seeing the finish line and knowing that the pain was about to stop. Except it didn’t! The agony of stopping was clear to see in everyone hanging sheepishly around the finish area, unable to move, sit, stand, or walk. And everyone was so emotional they didn’t know whether to collect their kit, hug someone random, collapse on the ground, or cheer like a crazy person!
It really was the best day ever… and to top it all off, we got a massive medal!
In total we have raised almost £14,000 for our charities, Fight for Sight, Prostate Cancer and Venture Trust. The support we had back home was nothing short of amazing. The whole of Applecross got behind us and tracked us on the app. And the donations just kept pouring in on the day.
Our top tips for your first marathon:
1. I really hated my bumbag; it was so uncomfortable. In normal circumstances this would not be an item I would purchase, but I needed something to carry my energy gels. Be sure to go running with the kit you’ll take on the day to eliminate any faux pas!
2. Go to the toilet before you start your race! This is very important. Unless you want it to be the only thing you are thinking about for the last eight miles.
3. There are female urinals at the start of the race. These are not your friend.
4. Never put an overly predicted low time on your application. You will end up at the back of the 38,000 people and have to spend 13 miles or so weaving in and out of those people who have chosen to walk the marathon.
5. Never agree to a celebratory dinner just a few hours later… you will be too tired and unable to climb the steps of the tube!
6. Have fun, and if it feels like it’s too much and you can’t do any more, just remember why you’re running, the great cause you’re supporting, and keep going. You will get there, and when you do, you’ll be elated and overwhelmed and want to do it all over again.
It was an incredible day and something I would definitely recommend everyone experiences if they have the opportunity. Run it, jog it, walk it, dress up as a tomato and skip along, but do it. It really is for everyone.