London Marathon has always on my bucket list. However, with five or more unsuccessful ballot entries, I decided, instead, to try for a charity place. The obvious choice of charity was The Cure Parkinson’s Trust (CPT) – my Dad has suffered with Parkinson’s for nearly 20 years, and CPT do an incredible job – their main aim being, to find a CURE for this terrible, degenerative disease.

Decision made, and with £2500 to raise, to secure my marathon place, I immediately set up a fundraising page. Luckily, with amazing support from my family and friends. I reached the target within a few months. As such, I decided to double the target to £5000, so that Nick (hubby) could run for CPT too! To be able to run this iconic race in the same year would be awesome. Ok, so our training would have to be carefully planned around work/kids/holidays etc. but we both knew we wanted to do this together!

Fast forward five months, and its race day. Unfortunately, the run up to the big day had not been a great one for me………..I seemed to contract a cough which soon turned into a full blown virus which struck me down for over two weeks. I also pulled my intercostal muscle (from coughing so much) ten days before the race which made sleeping comfortably nearly impossible! Luckily, however, I managed to recover in time to toe the start line, something I wasn’t sure was going to happen the week beforehand.

Nick and I arrived at the athletes’ area in plenty of time to soak up the atmosphere and managed to find a sneaky set of portaloos behind a tree which had a fraction of a queue compared to the others!!! With half an hour to go, we assembled in our pen and before we knew it, we were off.

Before my illness hit, we had planned to run the marathon together, at least for the first half of the race. But on the day, I said to Nick to go ahead as I was going to take it steady and didn’t want to hold him back. He left me after the first km or so, and soon I was in my own zone. I was determined to enjoy the race, and had a permanent smile on my face, at least for the first 13 miles anyway! You can not fail to be swept along by the incredible crowd support – the atmosphere really is something I’ve never experienced before.

The highlights of the race for me were definitely running past the Cutty Sark and later on, over Tower Bridge – with the crowds ten people deep at these areas, you could barely hear yourself think, let alone worry about tiredness creeping into the legs! Unfortunately, I missed the CPT cheering crew, which included some of my friends who had come along to support me on the way out. However, they gave me a massive lift when I did eventually see them at mile 22, which was well needed at the time!!

With just under 2.5 miles to go (with Shane’s message in my head – get through the tunnel and then its only a ‘res’ to go!!) I was feeling shattered. My pace was waning, my legs were on the verge of cramping, but I was determined not to stop. Suddenly, I heard someone shout ‘Helen’ from behind me and it was Nick.

He was hobbling along and had evidently hit the dreaded wall. I offered him Lucozade from my bottle but he just said ‘Go on, you’re on for a massive PB!’. Until that time, I hadn’t really been looking at my watch, but with the encouragement from Nick, I dug deep, with his mantra of ‘Enter the pain cave’ never far from my thoughts!! The final 800m seemed to go on FOREVER, but I eventually crossed the line feeling elated. It was OVER!! 3’43’24.

Not long afterwards, Nick spotted me amongst the thousands of other finishers and we hugged for a LONG time! Although Nick hadn’t got the 3’30 time he was looking for (until mile 18 he was on for it!) he was still very chuffed with a 14 minute PB, clocking in at 3’52’27. After all, for both of us, it was more about the London Experience than any times achieved…………..that said, I’m sure a few weeks down the line when the dust has settled, I’ll have to remind him that I ‘chicked’ him!! 😉

Not long afterwards, Nick spotted me amongst the thousands of other finishers and we hugged for a LONG time! Although Nick hadn’t got the 3’30 time he was looking for (until mile 18 he was on for it!) he was still very chuffed with a 14 minute PB, clocking in at 3’52’27. After all, for both of us, it was more about the London Experience than any times achieved…………..that said, I’m sure a few weeks down the line when the dust has settled, I’ll have to remind him that I ‘chicked’ him!! 😉

Categories: Race Report

Joanna Rich

Joanna Rich

Race reporter and full time muppet fan

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