My first post about running the marathon covered more of the practical side of things. However running a marathon is also a massive emotional rollercoaster. The week leading up to it had been an emotional rollercoaster in itself. I was ready and I just wanted to get there. I was struggling with having to wait. I wanted to be on that start line. I was impatient and moody. Apologies to my family and friends for the way I was that week!
Once I arrived in Edinburgh and after having the panic of not being able to find the hotel I calmed down a little. I knew where everything was in my case and we headed out to get dinner straight away and then came back to get ready. We had pre booked a table and I knew the place served a nice simple pasta dish, something that wouldn’t mess with my stomach. Then we headed back and I got everything laid out. My kit, my gels, I was calculating what I was going to need. How many hours I’d be running etc. But I was most worried about if I would sleep. I’m pretty certain I spoke to my best friend that evening although I couldn’t say for certain! Eventually I headed to bed, stuck in my headphones and managed to drift off.
Sunday I woke up before my alarm which frustrated me as I had wanted to get as much sleep as I possibly could but I think being so used to waking early with my youngest I just did. I popped my headphones in and tried to doze but it didn’t work. I was starting to feel quite queasy at the prospect of what was to come. The thought of my porridge turned my stomach. Instead we headed to breakfast and I grabbed some toast to try and settle my stomach a little. I headed back to the room and finished getting ready whilst my Dad stayed to finish his breakfast. This was a good choice as it gave me 10 minutes to myself to have a little cry and compose myself! I was all dressed and ready and stared at myself in the mirror wondering whos insane idea this was. And pondering how much it was going to hurt!
I headed off in a taxi to meet one of the girls I know through a running facebook group I’m in. We had been chatting for weeks before hand and meeting her was the best decision I made as having someone to start with totally calmed me. I would have been a wreck starting alone. We chatted like old friends and headed for the start. We then ran the first 8 miles together, she kept me from pushing myself too hard which was a really good thing as I would have gone out way too hard. At around mile 9 I started to slow and let her head off ahead. Emotionally that was tough, being alone. I was feeling rough and starting to question how I was going to get through this. I knew there was no way I wasn’t going to. It was just a matter of what state I was in when I finished. I was feeling more and more ill and as mentioned in my first post I was sick around halfway. But also reaching that halfway point was a mental milestone. I knew I had less miles to run than I already had now. Every step was that little bit closer to that medal.
At halfway I also turned my phone back on. I’d turned it off at the start as I had so much support coming through from my friends and family that it was getting quite overwhelming and in a way felt a bit of a pressure which scared me. So I had turned it off to block it all out and get ‘in my zone’ I guess. But turning it on totally helped me as I saw some messages from special friends including one from Susanne which promptly caused me to burst into tears but in a good way.
The whole run I was thinking of Tilda. Every moment I thought I can’t it was replaced with, ‘you can, your going to, for tilda’ I was running knowing Tilda will never know the joy of running. Nor will many other angel babies. I was running knowing the Lullaby Trust need all the fundraising they can get and if me putting myself through agony was going to do that then I had to get there. I ran thinking of the wonderful skydive team I pulled together and thinking of this years team.
A marathon is definitely as much mental as it is physical. I never realised how true that was until I did it. It was an absolute mental battle. A battle between mind and body. A battle between I can and I can’t.
I reached a stage where I tried to just hallucinate that my running buddy was with me. I tried to picture her in front of me as is so often the case on our runs. I tried to imagine her talking to me. It was hard to zone out of the marathon and try and see it as ‘just another run’ but at times I managed to, especially on the emptier stretches of road. In some ways near the end the stretches with the support were the hardest. Hearing my name being shouted by strangers was making me well up every time I heard it. I remember some kids around mile 19 who were doing a little cheerleading dance thing and they shouted my name, I blubbed!
As I reached the final mile and saw my Dad for the first time it was just so overwhelming I couldn’t talk to him properly. He said he’d go the final mile with me if I wanted. He came with me for some of it but I needed to finish this alone. I’d done 25 miles alone. I needed to finish alone. It was a mental journey. One that showed me I can do what I put my mind to. That when I set a goal I can achieve it. Finishing I knew I wasn’t the same person I was when I started. I was someone who could run a marathon. Who could push through their pain barriers and keep going. Who had the resilience to continue even when I felt like hell. Who had the determination to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
It has shaped me. It has changed me. Nothing else will ever seem so big as that marathon I don’t think. Theres not many goals bigger than that really. I’ve met my target of running a marathon by the time I’m 25. Now what do I do?