I’ve had a really tough couple of weeks – possibly two of the toughest I’ve ever had and, in all honesty, I’ve been really struggling. I have a few close friends that I can talk to and the club has turned into a bit of a sanctuary but sometimes you just can’t find the words to say how you’re feeling. For this reason I’ve had some mental battles with whether taking on a marathon was a sensible thing to do.
The morning started well, I had a great night’s sleep and actually managed to eat some porridge and part of a protein flapjack – I usually run on empty so I was quite pleased. I had packed the night before and felt very organised and I found a parking spot right outside thecentre – it was all going swimmingly! I met with other Crusaders and took photos before heading downstairs after Louise had kindly fixed my Camelbak and off we went.
I had asked the organiser if I could start with the ultra-runners so I didn’t keep everyone waiting although they attempted to pull me out of the run 3 times stating I’d started the wrong run forcing me to explain and wait for phone calls to allow me to continue. I met some amazing people along the route and found out about their fabulous charities which always makes me feel very humble and with my chosen charity Rowans Hospice in mind I pottered on at a comfortable pace taking in gels when I needed to. I noted just how much off road there was and just how unsteady it was underfoot but I was quite well paced and focussed on keeping moving, by the first time check the quick marathoners were on my tail and I moved to let them by.
The miles flew by and the scenery was lovely only marred by the motorway but by half way I was feeling pain in my hips and reached for some tablets which I knew I’d need. I took on fuel, patched up my right foot and found that the tablets had gone! It was “Panic stations” as my cramp was getting worse by the minute and I had to make the call whether to carry on or stop – Sara had caught up with me and told me another of our party was injured so stopping totally crossed my mind and lingered.
I forced the idea out of my head and decided if I walked the cramp off over the next mile or two that would work. By the time I hit the bridge on the way back I could feel the tears burning in my eyes. It was then that Kat and Lorraine literally bounced up to me, arms aloft,and I realised that people believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. I carried on and could feel the pain in my hips worsening and the blisters on my feet from the wet conditions start with that familiar sting. The next few miles lasted forever and the weather set in but there were people all around me for quite a while so I was able to change my focus a bit – then the hail came!
The weather was practically biblical and I had to pull my buff over my ears as I could feel them stinging and I stopped at the next aid station for some jelly beans and a sulk. A chap there let me have two ibuprofen and I plodded on willing them to stop the pain and my phone rang – my partner (who doesn’t understand running at all!) asked how I was doing and offered to meet me at Eastern Road with paracetamol.
This was the real moment I knew I had to finish this horror of a run – Kat and Lorraine hugged me and willed me on and Richard gave me tablets, he suggested I could just get in the car and go home and for a moment I seriously considered it. Heated seats and the ability to just stop moving were appealing to say the least!! But 20 miles couldn’t count for nothing and the words ‘there’s no shame in giving up if you can’t do it’ gave me the biggest internal sense of rage that I’d had in such a long time that I started moving on and with purpose.
I saw the team at the Harvester next and they were a welcome sight but I couldn’t stop or I didn’t feel I’d start again! The damn beach was next and I dislike it intensely! My phone rang again and Mel’s familiar happy tone let me know they were coming back for me!! Again, fighting back tears or pure emotion and pain I kept on and soon saw Mel with Jess and Trevor singing their way to me!! They were incredible and so kind, so we plodded on with me cursing the weather and Trevor denying responsibility for it, as it wasn’t supposed to start till 3! We turned to see the biggest rainbow over us and it just felt right – it seems that this was around the time that a fellow Crusaders father passed away and I’ll always remember that moment.
The last mile was definitely the longest of the race and as we saw the 26 mile marker more happy Crusaders screamed us on, with more emerging from the hotel too!! I was pretty overcome with emotion but carried on and got my medal – Lorraine and Kat were at the finish again and made sure I was ok to get changed and get back to the hotel for food which was so kind and I took a moment to stop and try to take it all in. It was at that point that Fiona messaged to tell me about her dad and I sat and cried for her, for the run, for my poor broken body and because I’d conquered it! Dinner was fab but, no matter how much I wanted to eat, it wouldn’t go in. I just wanted to be around my friends and to sit down!!
I get so awestruck by the amazing efforts that everyone puts in and by the feats people undertake. I’m proud to be part of our team and I’m going to stop comparing my achievements because we’re all different. I’m steady – that marathon took 7 long hours and I half feel that I should be embarrassed but I refuse to feel that way. I’ve battled enough, trained enough (although trail training clearly needs work!) and I left everything I had on that course. Somehow I managed to cover 28.1 miles but I’m now a marathoner!