Saturday, 2 May 2009
LONDON MARATHON MILES 20-26.2
Starting to hurt now, popped a couple of Nurofen to take away the dull ache in my knees, the pain in my groin, and the slight ache in my right Achilles, body is staring to feel heavy, but my spirits are still high, the crowd is what is keeping me going, the shouts of encouragement, the sheer amount of people, willing you to finish, wanting you to finish kept my feet moving. I hardly spoke to anyone, thought I would run with people but it did not happen, I think I have become so used to running on my own I just got my head down and done it. The Embankment was amazing, coming up from the underpass, with loads of people above the runner's shouting and cheering, I felt like a Grecian heroine.
London was crazy, it was not the city I was used to it reminded me of carnival but bigger, better, like Trinidad carnival rather than Nottinghill and I am running in a costume rather than dancing, I feel as if the crowd really wants me to finish is urging me on, I take whatever food is being offered, the sugar seems to be helping, and I high 5 as much children as I can, grown men scream my name, and I smile, laughing to myself glowing, happy, so happy that I am here running, doing what I have been working towards for months, lighter, fitter, more confident and running for a good cause.
Saw Rob one last time, I knew I had to dig deep from then on, so another pep talk and I moved on. Before the marathon started I had told him not to ask me at anytime how I was, I did not want comfort only encouragement, all those lonely, cold runs during the winter and tough runs during my time in the Caribbean had gotten rid of the whiney miserable runner I was before beginning the training, somewhere along the road the negative voice had disappeared and been replaced by a kinder stronger voice, that would not take no for an answer. During all of my training, I only dropped out of one session, a 12 miler in Grenada that turned into an 11 miler due to the heat and me setting a pace that could not be sustained, I learnt my lesson, and a cancelled 18 miler due to flu and an Achilles injury, other than that I refused to let anything get in my way.
I put on my ipod the first time, I needed some external stimulus, something that could keep my feet moving, give me an extra pep in my step and I had a ragga and Soca selection that could do just that, so I continued onwards. Pain yes I was in pain by now, my legs felt as if they belonged to Barbie, but my chest felt strong and I knew I could make it, as long as I could out-wit my mind which was beginning to despair as the miles went on. I tried to ignore my tired self and tapped into Beanie Man and Fay Ray Lyons, let that beat force my legs forward. I remembered why I was running, bust a few tears, not sadness, just pure emotion, joy and gratefulness, grateful I could run knowing my brother and sister no longer had the ability to fly.
I had placed a picture of them on my back so I could take them on this journey with me at least spiritually, I imagined Rob was running on my left side, and my girl Simone on my right, I imagined mum and my friend Shirdlon at the finish urging me on, looking out for me, wishing the best.
I remembered the tiny pasture in St Patricks, Grenada and the sheep and goats I passed a hundred times, screaming out in frustration at running around and around in circles, the massive hill Mount Rouge I ran up and down in the capital St George’s, not realising when I booked the hotel, that the hill was almost a mile long, the intense heat sapping my energy in Trinidad, and the dog’s which tried to rip me into pieces, the cold winter in England which caused me to run so slowly I doubted I would be able to complete a marathon in less than 7 hours, the stitches which ate at my sides, hampering my early progress.
I remembered the 24 pounds and 19 inches lost. I remembered the sorry state I was in in September 08 when I ran/shuffled the Nike 10K, in pouring rain, struggling with being unfit, and a double knee injury which saw me complete the race in just over an hour and a half, when in previous years it had taken me an hour.
Did I give up then? No, did I stop then? No, was I going to stop now? Hell no, was this harder than any of that? No. Was it as hard? Yes, but no harder. I thought of everyone who had sponsored me and were willing me to finish, and it helped. I thought of all the people with Muscular Dystrophy or who, for whatever reason, cannot experience the joy and pain of running, but mainly I thought of my brother and sis Emma and Daniel, and with each step I chanted, Em and Dan, Em and Dan, Em and Dan, Em and Dan.
There it was the sign almost there, I tried to pick up the pace but my legs poor things did not have it in them, they were rebelling, telling me they had carried me far enough and if I asked any more from them, they would detach themselves and walk away from me. I looked over to the stands on the right hand side, just before the finish searching for Shirldon and mum desperate to spot them. There they were, jumping up and down like crazy screaming and shouting. I am screaming and shouting back and grinning, grinning, grinning, happy it is over 5 hours, and 23 minutes 37 seconds later.
I got my medal (which is still sitting around my neck) my goodie bag and went off to meet friends and family, I passed a sister who was crying, I asked her why she was crying, it was all over she’d/we’d done it. She told me she’d major problems with her knees and did not think she was going to make it and that she’d been following me for a little while, and without even knowing it I had helped to keep her going, we hugged and exchanged a few words.
And that was it, it was all over, 8 months of training all finished, 26.2 miles, 19 inches lost and 24 pounds lighter, I am fitter, healthier, happier and ready to take on the 4 half marathons including the Great North Run and a 16 miler I have planned for the rest of the year. This is not the end, this is the beginning. The marathon was not a gimmick for me I worked too hard to obtain this level of fitness and it is here to stay, as soon as I feel able I will be out on the road again pounding the streets, dodging dog shit and sucking in London fumes. At least it is no longer cold.
Would I do it again, hell yes, not sure about next year the marathon can turn into a monster and take over your life, I need my life back, I have other things to do, have to catch up with friends and family I have neglected, get writing, and creating again, but it will not be my last.
How do I feel a few days later…. Great. Monday I had sports massage which was wonderful. The worse thing to be honest has been the friction burn on one of my thighs due to my expensive adidas so called supanova running tights, gaining a hole and rubbing off a layer of skin, there was nothing supa about those I can assure you.
Other than that and the usual tiredness and ache’s I am in remarkably good shape, no lasting damage has been done. I have been relatively surprised during all my training how well my body has held up after the long runs, I think it means I can afford to push myself more, I no longer need to be afraid, my body will cope with whatever I throw at it, so next marathon I am aiming for under 5 hours. When will that be?