#9 06:05:04

That title is my time for the London Marathon (#9 Run a marathon). Next time I’m aiming for 05:04:03. I’ll put up marathon photos as soon as I get them, if I do. Also I just realised that, in what must have been a moment of weakness, when I transcribed my list, I changed marathon to 10km. PAH! Me of little faith. Still says marathon in the original, though!

If you would like to sponsor my charity (The Alzheimers Society) at all, it would be welcomed, by the way:  www.virginmoneygiving.com/marathonme 

This update is basically what I put on the my training site, feel free to just skip through it:
“I started out strong, slow first 5k at about 40 minutes, but then settled for the first 11 miles – stopped for the loo at mile 10, which wasted 10 minutes queuing. In mile 12 I started to struggle and walked, by mile 13 I was in a lot of pain and shocked that I was struggling so early on. In retrospect I hit the wall at that point. Partly my fault – I remembered my gels, but no banana, so my stomach was trying to fold in on itself. My joints ached, my right leg went stiff and I had cramp across the right side of my torso. I spent three miles struggling and wishing I’d just faint so I’d be pulled out, because pride wasn’t letting me drop out. My friends who came to watch said I looked like the walking dead at that point. They also said that the point I slowed down was when the sun hit it’s height and the heat rose – we’d been promised cloud cover and showers, but the cloud stayed tantalisingly away from the sun and it got hot. I don’t do well in heat, and this was a perfect example of it.
Anyway, at mile 15, an enterprising spectator was handing out biscuits. I took two, and my stomach cramps stopped, so that was nice. Then I spent mile 16 reconfiguring my thinking and doing maths on how to get through the rest. Broke it down to getting to mile 20 within a certain time, and then doing the other six miles within 15 minutes each. I wanted to try and beat 6 hours, but it was a rough count (pretty close, though!)
Made it to mile 20… and then the blessed rain started. It was like a new lease of life. The amount of running I was doing per mile built up. It was slow, because I was tired – but I felt GREAT. My boyfriend and a friend were at mile 22 with fruit pastilles – I hugged them and trotted on beaming happily. Other friends – the ones who’d seen me at 13 – were at 25. Said that it was bizarre, because everyone going past looked knackered and like they’d had enough, and then I came trotting up grinning and looking great, which was more what they’d expected at 13. I managed to RUN the last 200 metres or so to the finish and was very happy indeed. Felt ok. Legs sore now, but not too bad. And that was my first marathon. Next time I’ll beat 6hrs.”

Other things about Sunday – the atmosphere – the sheer amount of support and camaraderie among spectators and runners – is incredible. With the exception of those bad three miles I LOVED every minute of this run. Just feeling part of something so huge is… overwhelming. I’m even loving lying on the sofa with my legs that won’t bend properly and blisters that look like extra toes on my feet.
But the flip-side to all the laughter and smiles is when you start reading the t-shirts and signs of the people running for charities. An easy 3/4 runners running for charity were doing it for someone they loved – someone who had died or was dying, and on occasion someone was running who was suffering from a disease or disability. At around mile 6 I was suddenly struck by the undercurrent of loss and determination and sadness that brings all these people together to fight through this challenge. The photographs and messages made me want to stop and cry.
And on the back of that – a lady died running it this year. She was only 30 years old. On Birdcage Walk, which is mile 25 – she was literally round the corner from the finish – she collapsed. Ambulance crews went straight over, but were unable to save her. It was her second time running the race and she’d previously climbed Mt Kilimanjaro. She had a ballot place, I gather, but had chosen, like many ballot winners, to run for the charity of her choice – The Samaritans. The outpouring of support from runners on the VLM note that broke the news was incredible. And then someone found her charity page. Pre-race, she had made £500. Shortly after the link had been posted, it rose to £1,200 – many of those donations anonymous with messages of support for her family. Since then, donations are nearing the £200,000. People can be So Kind – with no other way to show their support, this is how they’re doing it. (Incidentally – her page is http://www.justgiving.com/Claire-Squires2)
I mostly started doing this stuff – by which I mean the running and the swimming and the sport – as a way to save myself. I keep meaning to write an entry about how I literally run for my life. But then events like this, and outpourings like this, make me realise that it’s not just chemical balance – it renews my faith in people and their ability to be good and kind and supportive and root for the underdog and actually be a community across an entire City, and it forces me to feel things in a good way and look on the world with more forgiving eyes than I’m wont to do.
It’s a shot of energy to the soul.

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