My London Marathon

So as you all know it seems that destiny doesn’t want me to run the London Marathon, last year I deferred my spot due to a breast cancer scare & this year I tore my calf (gastrocnemius) muscle at the London Winter Run and 3mths later I am still wearing a cast and using a crutch (read more about that here)

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The first two to three weeks of my injury this year I still expected to be able to run, even my consultant at the hospital told me I’d still be able to take part but warned me to forget about any times I had in mind and just focus on getting around the course, but by week 6 I knew I didn’t stand a chance, walking for an hour using the crutch and boot left me with a really uncomfortable ache in and around my ankle each evening, if I was struggling to walk 2-3 miles how could I honestly even consider run/walking 26 of them


I also had another very important person to consider this year, my husband. He had very kindly applied to Diabetes UK for a charity place just to support me with my training, his training had been going really well up until my injury, then partly due to work commitments, partly due to fear his training seemed to fall apart, 5 weeks before the marathon and not having ran further than a half, he admitted to me that since I got injured he was worried that he would also get injured, he’d suffered badly with Plantar Fasciitis a year earlier and since training for London he had had calf and hamstring niggles, on race day he needed to focus & concentrate on himself, he didn’t need to be worrying about whether I was still limping along, so making my decision to pull out this year made sense it felt selfish to even consider running

So what does a runner do when you can’t run, you cheer!!

I knew lots of people running the London Marathon this year, friends I’d known for years, people I knew through Facebook running groups and many of the girls I’d ran the Spitfire Scramble with last summer

In the past I’ve managed to get around the course with the help of Public Transport seeing friends at Surrey Quays (mile 8-9), Mudchute (16-17) & then Westminster (25-26), unfortunately the support on the route has grown so much the last few years that it has meant that stations get very over crowded & I’m some cases close so it’s not as easy to get from one point to another & as I was less mobile I agreed with my husband that I would go to Surrey Quays and then to Westminster as the previous year my husband and a friend who was also running had been with me to Surrey Quays to cheer so this meant they knew exactly where to look out for me & I opted for Westminster rather than further along the Embankment as that is where Diabetes UK had a cheer station do again it would be easy for Jason to spot & would also give me somewhere to rest if my leg was playing up

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I got to Surrey Quays just before 11am, this has always been a really easy place to get a comfortable spot to cheer on friends and family, this year the crowds were 3 deep & I could barely get out of the station, I walked down the road towards where I usually stand and managed to squeeze into a tiny gap, just in time to watch the Elite Men come through, then Paula Radcliffe, then the first friend I spotted was the amazing Becs (click to read more about what Becs calls the Highway to Hell), I am in awe if what this girl can achieve only a few weeks early this girl was running across desserts at the Marathon Des Sables and here she was not far behind the elite, next was a bit of celebrity spotting Joe Wicks aka the Body Coach of #leanin15 fame, then my friend Julia, and next up Chris Evans (I didn’t even know he was running, I’m sure I had read somewhere recently he was going through his own cancer scare)

Then finally the important ones, suddenly through the crowds I saw my husband running towards me, he was looking good, he was running a good pace (quicker than what he wanted for race day but an average pace for him) we’d agreed he wouldn’t stop so when he reached out gave me a quick kiss, I melted, he looked so comfortable and in the few seconds he was with me he told me he was feeling good, I watched him run off and as I turned my head to see the oncoming runners my friend Lolo was running towards me, I was so glad to see her and tell her how amazing she was doing, she was less than 30 seconds behind Jason and that little bit of news saw her weaving through the crowds to try and catch him up

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For a split second it did cross my mind to try and get to Mudchute, Surrey Quays station didn’t look to crowded, but Jason had asked me to make sure I was at the finish, so off I headed towards London Bridge, I knew I’d be walking parallel with the runners between miles 11-12 but I didn’t expect to get there in time to see Jason again but it’s amazing how quickly I can move at the thought of Jason possibly not seeing a familiar face for another 16 miles, this part of the route was slightly less busy and I managed to find myself a spot easily, I had noticed a few runners in fancy dress that I knew were just ahead of him so as he wasn’t expecting me I got my whistle out ready to make as much noise as possible when I saw him, within a few minutes I spotted him, this time as he wasn’t expecting me he was in the middle of the crowd, we waved but I didn’t get a chance to tell him how close Lolo was, which was a shame as this time there was literally only 4 runners between them, unfortunately even thou Lolo ran right in front of me she had her ear phones in and was totally in the zone so missed me cheering her on

I now had a couple of hours to spare, I really needed to sit down for a while but again I was worried I wouldn’t get to the finish if I stopped, I had a quick pit stop to use the loo in a pub near London Bridge before battling my way onto the train to Westminster

While I arrived at Westminster with an hour to spare, I’d had a txt from some friends to say they had seen Jason at Mile 13 and another to say some other friends had seen him at Mile 17, unfortunately the tracker apps didn’t work for me on the day so I had to rely on txts from my sister and another friend to let me know where on the course people were & unfortunately around the 20 mile 30km mark even the trackers at home seemed to take a while to update, up until that time, Jason was running around a 4.40-4.45 pace

About an hour had passed without any news, my sister was starting to worry but I knew that the trackers often to a while to update and also that this was a natural place for him to slow a little, especially when you consider his training


I decided to make the most of being at the Diabetes stand early, there were still several friends I hadn’t spotted, I spotted Julia again, Leah from the Spitfire Scramble, then finally there was some news on Jason, he was past mile 23 but was struggling he had hurt his hip but was still moving, then there was news on Lolo, she was through mile 25, again she ran just in front of me but she was in the zone, she looked as fresh as she did at Mile 8-9, about 10 mins later Jason came running (yes running) past chatting & smiling to a guy called Tony he had met in the starting pen, unfortunately he was on the opposite side of the road to me, the Diabetes UK team went wild every time one of their runner passed and as they all knew the story of Jason only signing up to support me they went extra wild, seeing him go past finally cracked me and the tears flowed , I was so proud of him, I can’t begin to explain the feelings I had gone through in the past 24hrs, for months he had known people would be out on the course to support him and roughly where on the course they would be and then at 10.30pm the night before each of them changed there plans, I went into panic if they couldn’t be there I’d have to be, I didn’t want him having to go through this alone, he needed support when the going got tough, I’ve never had children but I’ve heard so many people say you don’t know what love is until you hold your own child that first time, and honestly that is what I felt like the night before the marathon, suddenly my baby was gonna be all alone, he had only signed up because of me and I just had this overwhelming need to protect him and be there for him, obviously this wasn’t possibly but seeing him pass me, knowing he was safe, seeing him still running & smiling, I don’t think I’ll ever experience anything that makes me feel more proud

Now I needed to get to the finish line, I was really impressed with how the organisers had set up an funnel enabling supporters to cross without obstructing the runners (as a runner this is seriously my pet hate, I was shocked at how many people think it’s ok to run across the road in front of the runners seriously go run 10+ miles then try and stop at no notice at all because some inconsiderate idiot decides they want to cross a road for a better viewing spot)

Seeing me hobble along you’d have thought I’d ran my leg was really aching by this point, one of the things I’d been told all along my injury was not to stand for to long and today i’d been on my feet for over 5hrs, trying to get onto Horse Guards Parade I was suddenly faced with steps, my nemesis and the main thing I am still struggling with there was no handrail and although I had my stick I just didn’t feel safe trying to get down the steps, luckily a lovely lady offered to help me


Horse Guards Parade was as busy & crazy as I feared, I’ve been suffering from anxiety attacks recently and I could feel one starting, would I be able to find Jason, I txt some friends that I knew were waiting for Lolo hoping they would still be about, luckily they were and they had Jason, they come and found me and within a few seconds we also had Lolo, lots of hugs, smiles & congratulatory hugs happened before heading for a well deserved meal and a few drinks & for Lolo & Jason to tell us about their races


Photo Credit : Alexandra Heminsley

Even if you have no interest in running I challenge you not to be moved by the sheer inspiration of all those runners on the course, I’ve spectated at London 8 times now, I have witnessed a proposal right in front of me, I have cheered on total strangers and I have cried with pride at seeing friends achieving more than they ever thought possible & this year I think I witnessed the most amazing act of kindness, just after I got to Westminster I saw two runners helping a 3rd runner who could barely stand, at almost 26 miles it must be hard enough putting one foot in front of the other let alone doing it carrying someone else, but they were doing it they were supporting a fellow runner, now to me it doesn’t matter whether you run a sub 4 hr marathon or a sub 7 hr marathon, in fact as a slower runner myself I’d argue that I have to train even harder as my training takes me longer but I also have respect for faster runners I simply have no idea how they make their legs move so fast, people train for months for a marathon, give up evenings and weekends with friends and family to pound the streets and clock up some mileage, even though many won’t admit it most will have a finish time in mind , some will be chasing a personal best so to give that up for a stranger melts my heart, it’s the ultimate act of kindness & these runners in this photo gave up a sub 3.30 time to help out this guy (who thankfully was ok after the race, I’ve seen photos of him smiling & showing off his bling) I really hope he tracks down his carriers and gives them a big thank you, days like this give you friends for life

Jason and his running buddy Tony are already talking about doing another ‘shorter’ race together. (I think it might be the Great South Run) & I am very pleased to report the hip problem seems to have been a blip caused by jumping onto a kerb at mile 19 to avoid a bottle, as Monday with the exception of a bit of stiffness he was walking fine & Thursday he took himself out for a recovery run and done a 5k Sub 27 PB


The London Marathon 2016 ballot has now opened, have you been inspired to run?

I’ve entered, they have changed the ballot process this year , it used to be capped at 125,000 runners but this year they have decided to leave the ballot open for 4 days meaning they are likely to have over 500,000 applicants so the chances of getting a place are ridiculously slim but I’m a firm believer in fate, there is a reason I couldn’t run for the last two years and if I’m meant to run then fate will give me another chance

If you’d like to enter click HERE but be quick, the ballot closes at 5pm on Friday 8th May

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