As you may be aware, I’ve been training for a half marathon since May. The day of the big run finally arrived yesterday and you’re reading this which means, I’m still alive. VICTORY! And what a journey this four months has been.
When I first started training in May, I couldn’t run for 30 seconds. But I kept at it and soon, I could do 5K. I worked on building my fitness level through boxing, pilates and powerplates sessions. I did hill training (running up and down steps like Rocky) with my personal trainer, Coach Qu, who gave me fun workouts centred around building power in my legs. And I just kept at it. I hated it at first but, as time went on, I saw my body changing, but more importantly, my mind. Something was taking over. I was changing. I was more focused. I was more dedicated to everything in my life. I was thinking clearer. And I was determined. Boy, was I determined!
Along the way, the fantabulous Claire Nelson signed up to do the half marathon with me. You will be hard pushed to find a better Twitter friend than her, I tell you. She did it for Scope and raised over £500 – phenomenal! I had a lot of people emailing me saying I’d inspired them to get fit/lose weight/start a fitness regime. People on Twitter and Facebook were keeping up with my progress and it all just made me that much more determined to do everyone proud.
Then, a couple of weeks ago, I came down with laryngitis and couldn’t train. Not ideal in the home stretch before a half marathon. My last day in bed sick was 11 days before the big race. I was panicked because I’d only managed to train to six miles in my preparation, when technically, I should have worked up to 10 miles.
I went down to London on Saturday. After being out with my friends all day and feeling a bit snuffly, got back to my hotel that night to find I’d developed a full on cold. With the race just hours away, I wasn’t a happy bunny. But I got up on Sunday morning, sneezing, congested, with a totally blocked head and just thought ‘I’m not backing out now’. Another of my Twitter friends, the amazing Charlie Dark, had signed up for the race a few weeks ago, purely to pace me through it and ensure that I made it to the finish line. After he did that for me, I couldn’t very well say I wasn’t doing it ’cause I had the sniffles!
Charlie Dark and I right before we set off
So, me, Charlie Dark and Claire Nelson enjoyed a few laughs and the start line and then, we were off! I hadn’t realised it, but apparently, I took off like the clappers and kept a bit of a stupidly fast pace for the first five miles. But I felt good, so I just kept with it. By mile seven (which is the furthest I’d ever run), I took a couple of short walk breaks. By mile nine, my cold was really making my breathing difficult. I pushed on where I could, but had to walk in a few places to try get my breathing back (or breathe at all!).
Charlie Dark ran alongside me and encouraged me literally every step of the way. I couldn’t have asked for a better companion. We were taking a little walk break just before mile 10 when an old man in the crowd saw us and shouted some encouragement our way. ‘Come on guys! Not long to go now! When you get to that 10 mile mark, your breather’s over!’ He walked alongside us, egging us on and when we got to the 10 mile marker, Charlie and I started running again and this old guy (who must have been in his 70s) ran alongside us on the pavement for a few paces. He smiled and gave me a thumbs up and I was on my way. I’m not gonna lie, I got a little choked up at the kindness of that man.
Mile 11 was a tough one, I was so close and everything was hurting. It hurt to breathe, I had a stitch, my body just felt like a big sack of stones. But I knew the finish wasn’t far off. Seeing the 12 mile marker gave me a little buzz – my God, I can run a mile in 10 minutes, I’m almost done! We came around the corner about half way through that mile onto the home straight. Charlie grabbed my hand and said ‘let’s do this!’ Now I was emotional. I could see the finish line in the distance and all the work I’d put in over the past four months kind of hit me at that moment. I was almost there. Charlie was literally egging me on with every step. The closer I got, the more I smiled, the more I fought back tears.
And then I did it. I crossed the finish line. In 2 hours, 30 minutes and 21 seconds. It’s the most amazing feeling I’ve ever had. The whole day was amazing. 12,500 people participated in the race. So many were running for a charity, so many kind people came out and lined the route to cheer for us. There was such an energy about the whole day.
This is the hardest but greatest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Six months ago, I never would have thought I could do this. I am living proof that it is mind over matter. Tell yourself you can do something, work hard at it and you will. I want to thank my glorious blog readers and Twitter family who have been so amazingly supportive and sent me such lovely messages throughout. All my real life friends who kept me sane. Tabio for sending me some awesome running socks. Misticon Clothing for sending me some workout gear. The wonderful Coach Qu who pushed me just the right amount and believed in me during the moments I didn’t believe in myself. Claire Nelson who’s dedication and support has just been mind blowing and of course, the inimitable Mr Charlie Dark without whom, I’d probably still be on the race route in floods of tears!
This has been such a life changing journey for me. Thank you all for being a part of it.
Moments after I finished