So, I only went and did it! I ran a Marathon! 26.2 agonising, exhilarating miles. The last two days have been hard work emotionally too- a rollercoaster of huge overwhelm, a massive sense of pride and accomplishment (and rather achy knees – I’m writing this with an ice pack on each one).
YESTERDAY WAS A BLUR
After a pretty rubbish night’s sleep (cue dreams about being locked in a cupboard/not being able to make the start line/Paul Weller?!) we awoke at 6.40am. In a bit of a haze we walked the 25 minutes to the start line and found a lovely lady, who was also running her first Marathon. I must check her race number to see how she did (I think she was ready to smash it).
We put our bags in and joined the everlasting line for one last wee before the race started. It was a bit nippy (about 8 degrees and quite cloudy) so we ambled over to the start in a bit of a trance and waited for the start.
We got off to a great start. Keeping pace well and we navigated the hills and ran well against the almighty wind coming off the sea. We kept it up until mile 13, where we found our lovely families cheering us on (seeing my littles faces was such an emotional experience, I will never forget it.)
The next few miles towards and round Hove were ok – we slowed our pace slightly and kept plodding. At this point, my running buddy had a wobble. My stoic, inspirational, fit as anything, amazonian of a running buddy. I was a bit floored. I ran and then found myself losing her, so waited and ran until we were side by side, and continued to do so for the next few miles around Hove.
Then came the dreaded ‘Power Station’ run. I stopped to wait for my running bud, but she just wasn’t there – she had literally been swallowed in a sea of runners (which is hard given that she is 6ft!). At that point, the reality hit me that I was alone.
With about 10 miles to go, it hit me like a brick in the face. 10 solitary miles. And I’m not going to lie – it was awful. Really tough. I had to dig deep. Running up to Shoreham Power Station is actually soul-destroying. It was grey, and the wind was bitter. And to add to things, I just never seemed to get there. Forever.
At this point, something a friend had sent me that morning came to my mind. She’d said “Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. A lot.” So that’s exactly what I did. I ran, counting one – two, one-two, one-two. I’m not sure how many miles it was for, but I’d guess about 3.
Running back along the same stretch after looping the power station wasn’t much better, I’ll be honest. But at the bottom of the hill, where the road meets the coastal path I saw something which gave me hope. It read “20 miles”. 20 miles!! I’d just run 20 bloody miles – I was so bolstered by this fact that I shouted to a couple running past “We’ve done 20, we can do f*ing 26!!” And it turns out we could.
The lovely pair I’d shouted a profanity at then took me under their wings, talking to me, and looking over their shoulders every now and again to make sure I was there. I honestly was (and still am) so touched by this act of kindness. Kind man, and Mel from South Kent Harriers, you got me to 26 miles. THANK YOU.
At that point, I spotted my running buddy’s lovely hubby and son and shouted “I’ve lost her. Is she ok?” and he smiled and said “She’s fine, she’s behind you.” The sense of relief I felt that she was ok was overwhelming – as overwhelming as dealing with the fact we weren’t running our last miles together. Honestly, I will always feel terrible that I lost her. I didn’t want her to feel I’d abandoned her, left her behind. She’s an incredible friend, partner and running bud who means the world to me.
I ran on feeling energised for the last mile or so, and then, at mile 26, I saw that face in the crowd. My girl, my beautiful sunshine girl, the recognition on her face, turning to absolute joy when she realised it was me. And then my gorgeous boys – all lined up smiling and waiting for a kiss. It honestly was one of the most brilliant moments in my life. Writing it down makes me emotional beyond words. Best. Moment. Ever
That was it, I could see the finish line – I was ready to do this. To finish what I’d set out to do. A familiar face in the crowd caught my attention, and it was my beautiful sister. Then my Niece, Nephew and Brother-in-Law (I wasn’t expecting them to come). At this point I was an emotional wreck but it was the home stretch. I actually said to myself “Sod it. Let’s do this, Tahlia” and that’s what I did. I sailed down the last 0.2 miles, I posed for the cameras, smiled, laughed and let myself enjoy the final rush of what I was about to achieve. I’d just run 26.2 miles. Done.
After then, it was a bit of a blur – collecting my medal and bag. I do remember wincing as I bent down to put my bag on the floor and then just chucking myself down beside it whilst I pulled it together a bit.
What did I learn on Sunday? That I CAN run a Marathon. That people can be so kind, and the smallest kindnesses mean the most. That I’m tough, both mentally and physically. And that my knees don’t like running 26.2 miles. Pass the ice…
Happy Monday lovely people.