Well here we are! All done and dusted, who would have thought? What a day it was. Sunday 22nd April 2018. I will never forget it. I will tell you now, it is the best and worst thing you can ever do.
The heat on the hottest marathon on record was…..unpleasant to say the least (she says in true Brit understatement.) Standing in my starting pen for 40 mins with the sun beating down told us all what it was going to be like as we tried to lean towards the tiny bit of shade there was. As I looked around I saw bodies in fancy dress, already dripping with sweat, very brave souls indeed. I remember thinking to myself, I just had to keep to my race plan and slow pace to get round.
I will tell the truth. It is a long run out from Greenwich and the first big landmark is running by Cutty Sark. Bands playing, crowds shouting at 6.5 miles I was feeling good. 7 miles in, I was really hot, but I remember loving the lady whose act of kindness was to give me an iced lolly, at the time it was pure unadulterated bliss.
Showers en route? Yup I ran through plenty of those. Who could forget the firemen at fire stations who had set up hoses with a gentle spray for us to run through. I will never forget.
Now we are at mile 9. I spotted my cheering crew, lovely to know support was there. The next big moment was running over Tower Bridge at mile 12. It was unreal the amount of people cheering us on, it really was a wall of noise. At this point, I was still feeling good and seeing and hearing the supporters put one huge smile on my face. After this it became pretty tough. It felt like there was an extra long run out to the middle of freaking nowhere and then to make it even worse, we had to double back on ourselves.
Then it got harder. 5 water stations had no water! Runners got so desperate they were picking up half used thrown away bottles to get that little sip of water! The general public were still awesome; people were coming out with sweeties, cups of water and bottles of water. Pubs realising what was happening brought out plastic cups of iced water. Spectators were screaming us on, so generous. I blew kisses, one chap asked me to marry him, I told him I would…. if he could carry me-surprisingly he couldn’t!
Mile 18, my leg muscle seized up and I hobbled along. Mile 19 was my own personal hell around Canary Wharf. But thank goodness Martin and Mark were there to give me a hug, dry my tears and will me onwards. The crowd seeing my bottom lip wobbling were beyond amazing. ‘Don’t give in Annie…. Keep going… You’ve come so far etc. etc.’ I especially loved the East Enders who were yelling ‘go on girl give it some.’ Runners willed each other on, even though plenty of people were being sick, some blistered from the sun. But nonetheless, we told each other we wouldn’t give up and we’d got this. A time came where I had to walk, leg screaming, back hurting and I was feeling nauseous. A friend appeared en route to yell for me and I dug deep, really deep and I managed to start running again, slowly but I was definitely running (and actually pretty happy all things considered).
Mile 23, a huge shout out from Whizz-Kidz came from nowhere and I knew there wasn’t too far to go. It honestly meant the world to have people cheering me on at this stage.
Nothing was better than coming up the Embankment and turning into Westminster knowing the end was close and seeing countdown banner 800 yards, 300 yards, OMG I’ve got his.
On the way I found a girl sobbing, another lady and I grab her, one hand each and tell her to stand proud! We can see the finish line, she’s so close, she can keep going, we can all keep going. I tell her to raise her hands as we cross the line, we’ve all done it. I punch the air. Commentator gave us a shout out. That was my little act of kindness, simply returing the favour after all that had been given to me.
Totally exhausted, I lay down on Horse Guards parade. I didn’t care that it was gravel. To be honest, I didn’t even feel it. Team Annie, massage my screaming leg muscle and I lie there with a ridiculous grin incredulous that this particular journey is over. ....for this year!