The medal I have in my bag at my feet as I write to you on the plane home today almost didn’t happen. I decided a few weeks ago after not being able to train for this race that I would squeeze back into my catsuit like I did for my crew running the London marathon and cheer my heart out. My knee had been hurting since March and although I’ve tried to run since then, it hasn’t allowed me to. So there I was on Saturday about to pack my bag and head up to Edinburgh to have a blast cheering. No biggie, I have found that I enjoy it a great deal more than running.
Then Shameek who knew I had a place sent a text full of encouragement and I replied saying I wasn’t sure I would be running, he told me to enjoy the weekend regardless. So when Charlie sent a text with really uplifting words, my kit found itself into my case. While I said to myself I would make a final decision on the morning, it was pretty much a wrap.
The race itself was a mixture of things; I wasn’t going out with the expectations of others on my shoulders. Due to a lot of (positive) attention during recovery, the desire to run the race without fuss was paramount. I hadn’t trained etc. but I arrived at the start pen without any nerves which was a first. The first few miles as always if you’ve read any of my race reports are my worst and yesterday was no exception. I concentrated on the view as we headed toward the mountainous backdrop and the coastline further on, counting down the miles along the way. My attention was taken up for a while by watching a girl running just in front of us in sandals and I remember being a mixture of horrified, confused and mesmerised.
As each mile was checked off I do remember thinking “well THAT mile was longer than I’m used to”, but as the route was familiar territory I reminded myself that it was probably down to wanting to go and eat more than someone playing a cruel trick on us and shrugged it off. Somewhere between miles 6 and 7 I did start to feel a little tired, no real complaints and put it down to lack of sleep. Gran came into my thoughts a few times and I felt comfort. 9 miles in I felt the knee twinge and chanted to keep my mind off it and for hope that it would hold up.
The next mile and some change went okay although I did feel slower, until I was met with a sharp reminder at 11 and a half miles when my knee made itself known. Searing pain rushed up the IT band to my hip and I knew at that point it was going to be a fight to the finish.
I could only curse as I knew the moment I stopped, I would be returning back to London without a medal. I thought at the shame I’d feel and having to explain to friends and family why I hadn’t finished, so decided on concentrating on watching my feet and willing myself on step after step and not look out for mile markers or even the person in front of me. I think I was shuffling for a bit, but the thought of stopping made me move faster again. Darren who was by my side the whole race knew I was struggling and was amazing. I know that he had his own demons so it made it the more touching. He asked if I was okay and all I could manage was to tell him no through gritted teeth and we pushed on until Mile 13.
If you’ve been to Edinburgh you’ll know about the section between Mile 13 or 26 if you’re doing the full to the finish line – I believe that half marathoners end up running 13.2 as a result but never mind. You don’t see the finish line, so your delight at getting to the last mile marker is short lived. Despair sets in as you turn two bends before you see the branded barriers then a final turn before you see the finish line. It was only then that all the pain and the past six months felt worth every step I took until that point. My feet felt light and I looked over at Darren and took off, gun fingers popping off through the runners and across the line. After checking in with First Aid I had to sit and take in what we’d just done.
Every single person who has carried me up until this point, I thank you. Because of this I ran my race my way. While my mojo isn’t 100% back, I’m a half marathon closer than I was a couple of days ago.