A little jog around London ….

I honestly don’t know where to start.  I’m still on a bit of an emotional high to be honest.  This may be a bit disjointed and rambling but I want to get it down while it’s still in my head.  I am a bit like a goldfish after all.

As most of you know, due to my boring you to death, on Sunday 21st April I was set to run the 2013 London Marathon.  It’s all part of my ‘In my 40th year campaign ….’

The prep for this race was a bit messy due to chest infections and winding down at my job.  Also let’s be honest … I had a mojo issue a couple of times.  In fact two weeks ago I actually started preparing my excuse blog … the one where I explain why I didn’t make it to the start line.  But if I did that I would just do what I have done too many times to count in my life … start something and then quit.  I am not that person anymore.  I have a really good support network who I knew would love me regardless but who I felt I kinda owed it to to at least give it a go.  Then Boston happened.  It wasn’t the runners in the firing line … it was the supporters and if there were people still willing to come cheer me on then I needed to shut the fuck up and get out there.

So as nervous as a mouse near a trap the night before I laid all my gear out.  What I was wearing, what was going in my drop bag and what was going in bag to be sent over to friends house, where I was planning to recover that night.  Then I panicked and went over and over it all about a zillion times.  Nothing more to do so I sat back on the sofa eating ice cream and silently freaking out.  Got to bed nice and early and quite surprised myself by getting about 5 hours sleep.

Woke up at 5am to start a slow prep to getting out the door at 6.30am.  Nothing dramatic about the journey to Blackheath but it was cool not having to pay for travel due to being a runner and the nods of recognition from others carrying the red drop bags was really kinda lifting.  Like secret handshakes for runners 🙂  Walking up to the start had a nice chat with some lady from London and we both laughed about how we were nervous more because of so many friends coming out to support … what if it all goes wrong?  Got to the red start, dropped my bag right away and immediately regretted it as I still had an hour to kill.  Found some fellow Fetchies in the guise of Iron Mum, Redeel, Max, Hari and I am ashamed to say two others who the names escape me (remember … goldfish).  We stood around chatting for awhile and I was slightly in awe of Max and Hari who were literally getting ready last minute with numbers on shirts etc and yet seemed so blase about it all.  I would have had about 12 kittens by that point. When it was getting close to time we all said our good lucks and made our way to our respective start pens.  John and I were in pen 9 of red start.  So, yes, we were hanging out with the Rhinos (who I grew to hate as the day went on).  Lots of chatter all around but all I could do was keep looking at John and giggling.  He was fab though and kept me calm.  Then there was a loud whistle and the most deafening 30 second silence you have ever heard.  The expression ‘could have heard a pin drop’ could not have been truer.  I got a bit emotional.

Then we were off.  To a slow 26 minute walk.  Seriously .. that is how long it took us to get to the start line.  Off we went.  John had a plan and I was going to stick with him as it matched what I wanted too.  Except guess what …yes, I needed a pee.  So I ran into a working mans club and wasted 5 minutes.  The temptation to just stay was strong as they were having a great time already at 10.30 in the morning!  John had said he would stay steady and I was going to catch him up.  I ran 9 minute miles for the next 3 miles yet couldn’t find him and I honestly think this was my undoing.  I am not a 9 minute mile girl.  Happy at 10 thank you.

I can’t remember every mile to give you a play by play but will jot down the key parts for me.  Running through Greenwich and past the Cutty Sark was cool even if it was a tight corner and got a bit crowded.  The kids high-fiving and handing out sticky jelly babies.  I made an effort to high-five every kid I could.  The smile in return was worth it.  Some girl offered me a drink at mile 7.  Tempting but sorry hun I have to be somewhere.  Was feeling pain in my hip and I knew that my toes were not going to speak to me for sometime as they were already burning.  Tough it out and run.  Then around mile 9 I heard the most welcome screeching.  My little crowd of mobile supporters were there!  Morag, Klein, Patrica, Gill, Ellie and Rebecca you have no idea how my heart almost burst when I saw you.  My second emotion was fear that Ellie and Rebecca might fall off the wall they were on.  They even had crew t-shirts on.  God, I love you lot!

Off I plod and before I know it I am at the turn for Tower Bridge.  I have never smiled so big. Looking up at her and running across is a moment I will remember for a long time.  I just don’t have the words.

Then I knew I had Fetchpoint coming up soon so I picked up the pace … wanted to look strong as I came by.  I was worried I would miss them as they were going to be on the other side of the road but how silly of such a thought.  Those guys think of everything.  How in the world they got into the middle and put up a ‘Fetch 200m ahead’ sign I will never know.  Then I saw it.  The yellow and red sea.  I started running sideways and doing star jumps and screaming “FETCHIES” at the top of my lungs.  The noise I got back was outstanding.  Seriously I felt like I was the only runner out there.  You guys totally rock!!!  The sideways running did nothing for my little toe though but bollocks .. it was worth it.  What a boost!  Some guy running next to me jokingly said “Friends of yours?” I grinned and nodded like an idiot.

Things went downhill now.  Miles 13 to 16 were hard.  Loved running onto the Isle of Dogs.  My first London home.  Which meant Sam and Nigel would be waiting for me.  I came past the end of my old road where I was expecting them (and secretly hoping Larissa would be waiting with a cup of tea).  They weren’t there.  You will not understand the deflation I felt.  I plodded on and then I saw Sams hair.  Gorgeous curls …. like heaven.  Sweaty hugs for her and Nigel and did my best not to cry as Sam is probably one of what I consider to be my true friends.  Loves me warts and all.  Knows things about me that would make others walk away and yet she still loves me.  Yes, I am a bit emotional but you were warned at the beginning.

Right I had to crack on and get to mile 19 where the best roving support crew in the world were waiting and bless them I was taking forever.  This time I saw them first and it was fab to watch them go from faces searching the crowd of runners to jumping up and down screaming.  I couldn’t seem to stop apologising for how long it was taking to which I got a stern telling off for … love you Rebecca.  Then as I passed the group photographer Gill, she kindly pointed out the cute bum in front of me and said “Follow that”.

I don’t remember much about 19 to 23 except it was a hard slog.  I was pretty much at a slow jog now but determined to keep moving.  I knew I had Fetchies again at about 22 but was really worried they would have packed up and gone.  I gave myself a talking to (but apparently it was out loud as the woman next to me answered me) and said it’s ok if they’re not there as I saw them at 13.  Then I saw the balloons.  I stood in front of MillieB and sobbed and asked for a hug and got the best hug ever.  Then the lovely SpeedyMel gave me the nectar of the gods .. a Gin and Tonic.  The laughs from those at the support stand next door made me smile.  Yep, that’s the way to do it.  There were others there but I am so sorry for not remembering who.  I got the loveliest cheer as I took off again.

It then became a shuffle run from here.  I have to say … the crowd support even this late in the day was amazing.  One man even ducked under the tape and ran a few feet with me feeding me pretzels.  I was now aiming for mile 24ish as I knew my lovely mother and Auntie Gill would be there.  I couldn’t see them and then suddenly I saw four nutters running down the Embankment pavement screaming my name.  My Nike Covent Garden crew!!!  There was Harry looking dapper, Andy grinning like the village idiot waving a sign at me, Karen running along like a proper paparazzi and then Fran screaming at me through a bullhorn!  Amazing!  Totally unexpected and will never be forgotten.

Then the moment came that almost broke me.  I heard my Auntie Gill!  That hug from my mom said so much.  I knew she was proud of me.  She looked at me and told me I was almost there but I could’ve stopped right then and would have been a winner.

Right, 2 more miles.  No biggie?  Holy Cow … what a 2 miles.  The noise did not lessen.  Every one of those supporters has my love.  No matter what I do in my life running wise (and I have goals) nothing and I mean nothing will replace the pride I felt in those last miles.  I had been leapfrogging with a girl named Laura the whole way and we ran the last little bit together until she told me to go ahead as somehow I found some energy.  When I turned that last corner to come down the Mall I looked back over my shoulder at Queen Victorias statue with Buck House in the background and just giggled.  I punched the air.  This moment was mine.  I ran that last 200m with the biggest grin and when I placed my hand over my heart for Boston crossing the finish line I knew things would never be the same for me again.

I wasn’t fast (6.07).  I didn’t beat all the Rhinos (bastards).  I didn’t hit my charity fundraising goal ( http://www.justgiving.com/shelternichola ).  I didn’t get my name screamed much as I chose to have Boston on the front of my shirt.

None of that matters right this minute as I type this.

I am a marathon runner.

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11 responses

  1. Great blog Nici!! Really sorry we didn’t see each other again after your loo stop. I was reasonably steady at between 11.00 and 11.20 per mile and looking behind me for you. Eventually thought you’d gone past me! God knows I could have done with the company! Starting cramping forum about mile 16 and walk/jog/shuffled from mile 20. Probably the longest 10k of my life! Eventually finished in 5.32.44.
    Really pleased to see you made it. By the way we made it on the the tv. If you look on BBC iPlayer at last nights BBC2 highlighlights that were on at 7pm, they caught us briefly for a few seconds from 4 mins 28 in.

    Well done again on a great result!

    John (Redeel)

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