I have always dreamed about being able to complete a challenge like a marathon.
In 2016 I saw a friend running in the London Marathon; the amazing atmosphere and all the emotions it evoked made me desperate to have a go. I wanted to raise money for Myotubular myopathy and I realised I may be able to make a difference.
The challenge which lay ahead, once I secured a place, was a big one but I broke it down into phases.
I. Get kitted out, proper trainers and gait analysis
2. Start running short regular distances
3. Set a reasonable first goal (Royal parks half in October) if I can run 13 miles by October then I was well on target ...
4. Follow a proper 16 week training schedule from January.
5. Sleep well, eat well and enjoy ...
6. In the couple weeks prior to the big day, I needed to be mentally prepared
The training went very well. The half marathon was great, the scenery was lovely and the crowds were fabulous. I got the bug and wanted to crack on and reach a stage where I could run 15 or 16 miles without too much difficulty.
The route I took regularly (2 to 3 runs a week) was beautiful. I ran from Clapham to Battersea Park, around the park then along The Embankment and up through Chelsea to Hyde park, around The Serpentine two or three times and back through Chelsea to home. These runs were interspersed with yoga spinning and swimming.
I felt alive, fit and ultimately excited to be rising to the challenge. The only real problem I encountered was an ITB bursitis on my right knee (just inflammation or runners knee from pounding the pavements). This was dealt with by injecting cortisone prior to the race.
The day itself
The day itself was wonderful.
I was apprehensive but had great support from family and friends and the atmosphere in the crowds electric... live music and singing in many places and it seemed like everyone was shouting our names as we passed by.
Up until the day, the longest I had run was 21.3 miles, therefore I knew that the last four or five miles were going to be tough. However the incredible atmosphere made anything possible! I was lucky enough to only start feeling the pain at 24 miles. I think this ability to cope came from my marathon preparation. The key here was both mental and physical planning; I was fully hydrated, well rested and had enough energy gels to take me around the full course. Also, and equally as important was my mind set. I told myself hat the first 10 miles was a warm up and my personal marathon would only really start at the half way mark, Tower Bridge. This enabled me to mentally by pass any doubts or worries about the length of the course or being able to finish it.
A Marathon Runner
Crossing the finish line was an incredible moment ultimately to have achieved my goal to make a difference for children like Tom. I said it would be my first and last marathon, but now I can never say never!