This post has been a very long time coming. Even before I began training for this race, I had another huge hurdle to overcome which I have put off for one (terrible) excuse or another. The running has forced me to deal with it as once I am clocking up those miles whilst pounding the pavement, I am in essence alone with my thoughts.
It has forced me to make very difficult decisions and going over very painful memories. And to say it hasn’t been a walk in the park is a total understatement. During this time there have been some total badass people who have in their own ways held me up without even realising or confronting me to make me deal with uncomfortable situations. So I do need to thank those people, that will have to be the next post as this one is about me.
Darren and I arrived in Scotland very early on Saturday morning. I was a bag of nerves and trying to calm myself into taking in the beautiful sights of Edinburgh. After a walk around and some very steep hills, I tried to be sensible and after we checked into our hostels, Darren and I chilled in the common room of my hostel before he left and I showered, pinned my number onto my shorts, organised my kit, and went to bed at 10pm.
After what was a surprisingly great sleep (I think not sleeping properly for two nights meant my body shut down and ignored my brain,) I woke an hour before the alarm and lay there for half an hour with my thoughts and I meditated for a bit before getting ready. Darren met me at the cafe next to my hostel and we ate, I stupidly had pancakes but my thoughts were I wanted something nice to eat before doing something really stupid.
Blurry morning which involved going to the wrong start point, a huge queue for a disgusting Portaloo (thank goodness for sanitiser) and posing for a photo with Andy before I ate his dust when the race started.
Mile 1-3 I have to say to you from the very beginning I started this race, I was NOT in it. It usually takes me a few miles before I find my stride so as usual I was like “What the hell am I doing?” Got to half a mile and someone behind me shouted and chants throughout the runners echoed through and out the tunnel. Sweet. I still wanted to stop and go for some pancakes though, a nasty hill just before the second mile did not help fade that though. Going down hills can be as much of a bitch as going up. The pancakes already in my tummy felt a little heavy. Then I thought about Maple syrup for half a mile until I felt a slight cramp and swore at myself for not eating the toast.
Mile 4 A big blur, I think this was where we started onto the coastline, but who knows? I wanted to go home at this point. Remember using the water from first water station to top up my hydration and on my neck back and chest.
Mile 5 At some point I thought “where are the gels that the maps promised me?” Am so glad I bought my own as later on I needed them. Took my first one as I scheduled one every five miles to get me through. Took it on board fine with water and sipped my Lucozade but it tasted too sweet. I ditched the rest of it and stuck with the water hereon in. The pancakes still felt a little heavy in my stomach.
Mile 6/7/8 I thought a lot here about Mum, not sure why but I remembered random things about my friends that made me laugh and it helped loads. Coastline to the left looked lovely though and watching people playing made me want to go out and join them.
Mile 9 Water, lots of it. Thank you. On the neck, face and back Oh and I did drink some. Another blurry time but got through it again with zoning everything out and thinking about food. It’s always about the food.
Mile 10 Stupid woman watched her stupid kid on her stupid scooter cross the runners and laughed. I shot a glare at the woman and then the kid fell off her scooter. Good. Energy gel on board and I was off like a turbo booster. Not quite, but I was out of there ..
Mile 11 – 12 I don’t remember any of this at all, I think it was where the relay racers changed over, maybe it wasn’t who knows? I do remember water, drinking it and pouring the rest on my neck to cool me down. Meh.
Mile 13 Halfway through and I was only really feeling like I was getting into a rhythm, although I was really blocking everything around me out and relied on the chant I use to calm myself when I am feeling angry/anxious etc. a lot as the sun was starting to take a real stronghold on this race. I wasn’t about to give up though, I ran this distance in my sleep before. More water and realising despite the heat, I wasn’t feeling drained or dehydrated. Thanking myself for drinking 3 litres every day for the past week.
Mile 14 Top of the thigh really started to make itself known now and I was talking to it and asked it to leave me alone until I had finished the race and it eased off. The lack of mp3 player was a blessing and a curse really as maybe it would have meant that I didn’t notice the pain or not. Kinda late for regret, and a little too far to go back and get it now, innit? Bye coastline, hello tarmac and another level of hell. Uneven road.
Mile 15 Welcome cheers along this bit, but the crowds were not so strong here so it felt quite lonely along this stretch, feeling pretty isolated at this point and all I was thinking about now was letting my friends and most of all Isaiah and Mum down if I didn’t come home with my medal. Remembered a conversation Isaiah and I had days before and me telling him to work hard to achieve something he really wanted, and it forced me to (momentarily) snap me out of the negative thoughts that buzzed around my head. I really wanted some music at this point. Gel on board with some water.
Mile 16 At this stage, it was the furthest I had run, but the sight of people laid out, my left hip flexor still punishing me for taking it thirteen miles past when I started getting a niggle, my left knee cursing my whole existence kinda spoiled that moment for me. Hardly any shade, we all ran across the road each time we found a remote second to be out of the intense heat. I tripped on a log (okay it was a twig) luckily not falling flat on my face. To be fair if I had I would probably still be lying there as my body felt too heavy. Saw a man with paramedics looking extremely pale and it shook me up a little. Hydration. No crowds along here, smart folks decided it was too hot I expect …
Mile 17 -19 I was pretty much talking to myself during this time. Hydration and delirious conversations with myself. I knew around the 18 mile mark we would turn back on ourselves and seeing all the runners go past was a help as I remember seeing some of them in front of me not too far ahead. Saw Noushi during this, we exchanged pleasantries about our thighs and I told her I wanted to get this sh*t over and done with now. And to be quite honest with you, I was pretty much over this whole thing at that moment. At some point during all of this nonsense, we ran through a wooded area and past only what I could describe as a sh*t farm. No, I’m not joking, I could smell what I can only think of as dung, a handful of people were passing out water, hosing us down and offering sweets. The smell made me want to pass out. Drop me out, please.
Mile 20 Water station around this mile marker. Some rude guy shoved me out of the way to get TWO bottles. It wasn’t as if there wasn’t enough or we had come to the end of the tens of people standing holding out the water. I remember saying there was no need for bad manners and shrugged it off, but was quite annoyed. Knocked back my energy gel and kept it moving. Then it hit me. This wasn’t “The Wall” as people explained (more about that later) this was Cry for no reason mile. A lovely Scotch lady called Carry or Kerry ran up to me and just said “It will be okay, I will run with you for a bit” and she ran alongside me for half a mile, I told her I was okay and she was off. I don’t even know why I was crying, but I guess I needed to get whatever it was out of my system. The supporters out along that stretch probably thought I was mad but a lot were shouting my name and reminding me I was almost done. (Thank you.) I pushed on as I knew what was coming up next.
Mile 21 The beauty of being long-sighted is seeing your blind friend before he can see you. I was shouting and waving at him for ages before I came into his vision (lol) I waved frantically and we hugged and I carried on running, he caught up and got a couple of photos and told me he was going to run with me to the end which had me tearing up again. If he knew how much that made my day … I popped off a few shots from my gunfinger for my RDC people.
Mile 22 The excruciating pain at the top of my left thigh came back and I wanted to slap someone when it came on, thankfully Darren didn’t do anything to upset me or it could have been him. He started talking to me again and I reminded myself that at no point had I even walked so I wasn’t about to stop now.
Mile 23 Cramp was setting in but I blocked it out and carried on. Rude Guy from Mile 20 ended up next to me and I could see he was struggling so I asked him what was wrong and he said he was getting cramp, we had a chat and I told him to remember who he was running for (he had ‘Mum’ on the back of his top) and I left him to it. The old me would’ve tripped his ass up, but I left my ego somewhere back on Mile 2/3 when I was getting passed by what felt like the whole of the racing population. Toward the end of this mile the cramp was resurfacing. F**k sake. I want to stop now and go the f**k home now, this is NOT A JOKE. (Corey, that was for you) some guy offered to give me a rubdown after the race. Erm how about NO?!! Popped off a few more gunfinger bullets, Edinburgh wasn’t prepared for this South London woman descending on them, folks were falling back, yo.
Mile 24 I spent the majority of this mile cursing my thighs as I was not going to get this far to then have to be stretchered of or anything. This was my moment for “The Wall” and I did NOT like it one bit! What’s that kids say nowadays? “Nah, fam” Darren reminding me of my family and friends rooting for me almost sent me over the edge crying, damn him. The random dude popped up again offering to give me a rubdown .. the pain subsided a little just thinking about it *shudder* I reckon I ran my fastest here just to get some space between us .. oh look, there’s another water station. Although I had water the burly Scottish guy shouting “take it, Lass” meant I was taking the bottle and taking a few swigs.
Mile 25 Cramping thighs still trying to get me to stop. I continued telling them I wasn’t about to finish now and told them to bore off. I aint the one. Half a mile in I saw a man limping really bad and he stopped for a second. I told him not to stop and he carried on running and then skipping to stay moving. I told him I would stay with him, after a while I asked his name and he told me it was Lee we got chatting and I found out he was from Warrington. Talking with him took my mind off the pain. I became 100% gassed when I realised we were very close to the end. Cheers were getting louder and the crowds getting so full, so I decided they weren’t loud enough and
asked told them to cheer louder, which they did. Now I know how Kanye feels on stage. Haha.
Mile 26 This pretty much was a blur and adrenaline kicked in, I was still demanding the crowds cheered louder. I lost Darren amongst the sea of faces, but I grabbed Lee’s hand and pulled him to the finish line, whooping, screaming and pretty much going bananas. Clock said 4:44 and I was elated. Lee gave me a big hug and we had a chat before I let him go and find his people.
After stretching and a few words with other extremely excitable folk, I went and found the MS Society tent to speak with the ladies there and wait for Darren. I cried. Again.
I had done it, all the talk of ‘thinking of trying a ting’ for seven months with injury, snow, complete and utter breakdown for a month. All of it. I kicked it ass and I got me a marathon. I wanted 5 hours and someone up there gave me 4:42 (I turned my phone on and GSI Events who organise Edinburgh told me my time was actually 4:42 and not 4:44. POW.)
Either way, I did the damn thing. Nobody can really tell me anything for at least six months, as my response will be:
“BLUD, I just ran a marathon!!”