Tuesday 28 April 2015
“Running to save lives”
At the 38th Virgin London Marathon 2015!
My final week of marathon training did not go according to plan. Unbelievably last Sunday 19 April I dislocated my left fibula at the knee. Unknowingly of course! After effects were, it just felt a bit tender! I went to see Robert, Osteo on Wednesday for my last session before the Big Day and he broke the news, then very kindly popped it back! He told me to R&R, ice pacs and massage with muscle rub to bring down any inflammation.
This put an end to any further tapering training I had planned before the main event. So my tapering in the last week consisted of gentle swimming (back stroke), jacuzzi, sauna and cold showers. It did the trick and by Sunday 26 I was ready to run for how long was the question?
Back tracking just a tad to the final week lead up. I had a great session with Sue Kennedy life coach, NLP and hypnotherapist, who gave me some more anchors to boost my mindset for the day. Next came the preening! Very important to paint nails for luck and waxing for aerodynamic speed!!!
Two days before Lisa gave me a brilliant relaxing massage and I floated out of Vidatherapy feeling like Capt Fantastic.
One day before I rested as much as possible while preparing my kit. Deciding what to wear for all weather conditions was somewhat nerve racking… It had to be layers! – Running bra, dry fit T shirt, running vest, sweat jacket, bin liner, lucky red knickers (worn all through training), shorts, running pants, socks, wrist bands. This was all laid out ready for the morning, plus – 6 x isotonic gels, recovery drink, energy bars, flip belt for gels, iPod, sunglasses, visor and extra clothes to wear after the run.
I had a red plastic draw string bag provided by Virgin London marathon to store all this stuff (which would be loaded on a lorry at the Blue Start). I stocked up on carbs through the day and Terry cooked a brilliant ‘spagbol’ for supper. In bed at 10.00pm (this is early for me!). Gave myself some self hypnosis, talking myself up for the following day, then fell asleep!
The Big Day
I had a good nights sleep. Up at 5.30am, headed for Teddington station with Terry ( left Hols in bed she was following later) for the 6.58 to Waterloo with other Tedders marathonians! I said goodbye to Terry at Waterloo East and continued on to Blackheath Blue Start. Terry went off to Greenwich for breakfast and to rendezvous with the rest of the family supporters – Katie & Archie, Hols, Helen (sister-in law), James & Hannah (niece & nephew), Gary (my bros) & Gill (his girlfriend), so nine supporters altogether… very impressive!
From here on the atmosphere changed. There was ‘marathonia’ in the air! we were packed together on the train with plenty of chat and camaraderie going on. I struck up a conversation with a really nice girl who had travelled from Stafford and was still eating her breakfast. She had a solid training behind her clocking up a few 20 mile runs. I imagine she would coast through this one. She was allocated to zone 6. I was in zone 9 with the fancy dress mob, the last zone of the Blue Start, so I knew we wouldn’t meet again after the journey. We wished each other luck and said our goodbyes.
Getting ready for the start was the most nerve racking part of the day. I arrived two hours early. It was cold and drizzly, music was booming along with voices on loud speakers. A big screen showed footage of past marathons, interviews and panned around the other start zones to see fellow runners. I had decisions to make about when exactly I was going to de-robe and stand around in the cold. Apparently we had to get our bags to the lorries by 9.40 latest, so I waited till the last minute to take any clothes off.
At 9.30 I stripped down to my shorts and sweat top and waited in the tent out of the cold, huddled with fellow ‘marathonians’ like sardines in a very small tin! Twenty minutes on I decided to drop my bag off at one of the many huge allocated lorries and head for zone 9. Once in the pen I began to get excited, stretching, preparing and jigging around to live music. We had a 20 minute walk to the blue start, shuffling along slowly. Finally across the start I kicked into a good slow pace, avoiding the abundance of discarded clothing and bin liners.
After the first mile we merged with the Green start. From the outset I set myself tasks, the first being to slip into a comfortable pace with a calm mindset. I had my music on but the mass of people cheering was so exciting that I turned the volume down so that I could hear both. At mile six I was looking for ‘the gang’ (my family supporters), wearing yellow T shirts with ‘Go Annie’ printed in red. Archie had ‘Go Nanny’, bless! I was scanning each side of the road to try and spot them. As I passed under the big red six mile arch I was desperately looking, then all of a sudden I heard screaming for Annie, I turned round and saw Gary and Gill (my bros and girlfriend) waving and shouting at me. I sidled over to them in excitement, took off my sweat top and threw it to Gill, gave them a kiss and continued on.
The plan from here on was a bit random in terms of which would be the next mile marker I was likely to see ‘the gang’ at. I had it in my head that it would be at mile 12 and then possibly 18 if they could make it round the course. My concentration focused on breaking down the miles as goals for when I would see them next. Another six miles would bring me to the 12 mile marker where they could be! I felt quite confident at this point in achieving this marker, since I had done the 13 mile half marathon without too much difficulty.
However when I reached the 12 mile spot I couldn’t see ‘the gang’.
I decided not to get despondent, instead to boost myself with a bit of hypno trigger technique. It worked like a burst of power to carry me on for another six miles, where I was sure I would hopefully see them.
As luck would have it I saw everyone at mile 17. It was so fantastic! Just when the pain was starting to set in I heard them all screaming and immediately spotted Archie sitting on top of the railing. I ran over and kissed him and then everyone one by one. They were amazing, encouraging me to go on and telling me how well I was doing. It was such a great tonic for me. I was now completely out of my comfort zone, having never done more than 15 miles during training.
But I couldn’t see Terry! Hols said he was a bit further down standing back but higher up. I carried on and spotted him, it was a funny moment Tom would have laughed and mimicked him. We spotted each other, he waved his arms in the direction of the finish shouting “Keep going” nodding his head to the right, as I sidled towards him, to the edge of the pavement. All I wanted to do at that point was give him a hug but he didn’t move forward. Instead he raised his camera to take a picture and I could see there was a problem with the camera. He shrugged his head at me in annoyance, so I blew him a kiss and carried on.
Five minutes later I heard another yell from my left side, turned and saw my nephew Rick running along the pavement shouting “your doing really well Aunty Anne, you can do it” I thanked him for coming, gave him a big hug and skipped off down the road. I felt an amazing surge inside me, coupled with the delight of realising how within seconds of meeting all ‘the gang’, followed by Rick I had forgotten my feelings of pain and was well on the way to mile 18.
Between 18 and 23 I was absolutely flagging. The pain in my hips and knees was unbearable, literally it felt like I was ‘on my last legs’, slowing me down! Time to call on ‘all’ my resources – Breathing in for 2, holding for 5 and exhaling the pain for 3 counts. It kept me going for a while as I slipped into a slightly more comfortable pace, but the pain was still there.
I was desperate for a pee, couldn’t hold it any longer, pity I hadn’t got my ‘shewee’ tucked in my belt!. Lucky guys were able to dip out to the side of the road for a quick pee and back! All the loo stops along the way were stacked up with long queues so I new it would take a while. I decided it would be a good idea to have a breather and make the most of it.
When I got back on the road the aches and pains came shooting back. All I could do now was talk to Tom use my triggers and make decisions about the next mile markers. I went through a tunnel somewhere round Canary Wharf, as I entered there was a DJ pumping out sounds ‘club style’ It was a great atmosphere. Most people had stopped to walk or do some stretching. I decided to walk through the DJ’s tavern and began chatting to a lovely girl from Nottingham.
As we came out of the tunnel we said our goodbyes. I can’t remember which mile point I came to next, in fact my memory is a bit of a blur from here on. But I do remember lots of fancy dress runners, who must have overtaken me at the loo stop. I began catching up with some of them, in their fantastic costumes, how they were able to run in al their regalia was incredible ( I could barely manage in the little I was wearing) – Dinosaur, Turtle, Ostrich, Jesus with a cross on his back and bare feet, Elsa from Frozen, Spiderman and more. But my favourite was Matt the Rhino, we kept passing each other as I took the decision to run and walk for a while.
From here on I became distressed about getting to the finish, my body felt as if it was giving up the ghost. I calculated that if I was going to get to the end of this run in one piece I would need to walk for one whole mile. I heard Tom say ‘Come on Mum’! So I walked between 23 & 24, giving myself the best chance to run the last 2.2 miles. When I reached the 25 mile marker I saw ‘the gang’ waving and screaming at me. I was completely overwhelmed by their presence… the fact that they had managed to maneuver themselves round the course to another mile point was entirely unexpected! I hadn’t anticipated seeing them again till the finish!
They were all shouting ‘your nearly there only one more mile to go’. I can’t explain the tremendous feeling this gave me, other than pure determination to get to the end. As I left them while fighting back the tears of joy, an incredible rush of emotions flooded my brain, sadness for my loss of Tom, wishing he was here, knowing that I was going to finish soon, encouragement from the crowds on route, my families love and support, everything was rushing through my mind all at once…. overwhelming to say the least!
We entered the Mall to an unbelievable sea of people shouting encouragement, calling out our names as we limped by, holding out their hands for us to touch. Two women caught my eye shouting at me to keep going, followed by ‘Go Annie Go!’. Then I saw a soldier looking straight at me calling ” Your nearly there you can do it. You look so glamorous” It was absolutely brilliant!… in those few minutes I totally forgot the pain. I was in awe of all these fabulous spectators who I didn’t know from Adam but had made me feel special, driving me on to the last 300 meters.
Just before I turned the corner to the finish I heard a voice on the speaker calling to a number of walkers ahead of me. The message was letting them know there was a photographer ahead. Did they want to see themselves on camera walking to the finish!… Low and behold they all started to run!
Suddenly I saw the finishing line ahead and the emotions kicked in once more, within seconds a guy came up beside me and took my hand. I looked at him smiling – we congratulated each other and crossed the finishing line hand in hand, an incredible moment!
I looked ahead at the sea of stewards in bright orange jackets greeting us over the line. My face must have been a picture of emotion as I focused on a steward straight in front of me, she was looking at me with open arms. I fell into her embrace and sobbed, telling her about Tom and the charity. She told me to be proud of my achievement and how my son would be proud of me. She was lovely, warm and sincere, like a Guardian Angel!…just what I needed after 26.2 miles…
Walking to the truck to pick up my bag was tough I didn’t want to move another step and the long line of lorries were enormous, it was taking forever to find my number. After picking up the bag I literally moved a few inches to the pavement and set about getting dressed in warm clothes. I quickly mixed up my recovery drink with a bottle of water but the powder had compacted at the bottom of the bottle so it didn’t mix well. I drank half and threw the rest away. I had been given a Virgin goody back after receiving my medal, so I looked to see what goodies I would behold! More water! ( I’d drunk loads already) Mango Lucozade yuk! biscuits (didn’t fancy them), foil blanket (too late for that), Virgin Marathon T shirt size L (too big unless I wanted to wear a dress), Aah chocolate x 3 bars ( I wolfed them down) and headed off for Horse Guards Parade to meet up with who do you think… ‘the gang’!
As I approached the HGP I spotted Terry in his high Vis jacket and fell into his arms crying again! It was a wonderful moment!
We then trundled over to find the rest of ‘the gang’ at the far corner of the parade. I was limping now so we were a bit slow but were soon spotted by everyone with a great roar of congrats, hugs, kisses and team photos all round.
Finally I was ushered into a rickshaw at Whitehall with Terry and Hols from wence we peddled off to the South Bank to meet up with our gang (who walked on) at Wahaka restaurant! As we walked into the restaurant we were greeted with great cheers from the waiters and from people eating as they homed in on my medal. There were other ‘marathonians’ there too and we congratulated each other. I felt like a celebrity, it was absolutely fantastic! Archie had been asleep and woke at this point, he was delighted to sit on my knee while I enjoyed a glass of prosecco… well deserved I’d say! A truly memorable day was had by all!!
I hope you have enjoyed reading my journey over the last sixteen weeks and have been able to understand how much Tom’s life meant to so many people. It was cut short for no reason and we will never know why! But we can help others for the future by contributing to research to beat this terrible disease!
Thank you and best wishes Annie x
My Justgiving fund raising for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research has reached £9,440, smashing my target, well over more than I ever dreamed of! It would be even more amazing if we could get it to £10,000! Helping to beat blood cancers!
You can read more about Tom – Always in Our hearts on FB; https://www.facebook.com/groups/791710784177694/