The marathon/ The final post
After much nerves and wobbles of fear this past week, this morning dawned very well- slightly overcast but warm. I’d refrained from the hog roast at Matt’s end of season dinner the night before- amidst much sighing, and settled for pasta and potatoes and bread. And lots of water.
This morning, I left early to get to Greenwich, stopping first at the local store to buy tissues, my special tissues from Anouk, are AWOL with the house chaos. The shopkeeper was so excited I was running, he wanted to run it, he’d done the Brighton etc etc, but it was really nice as it was genuine support and reminded me how fortunate I was to get a place.
It was just me on the bus, with my red Virgin marathon bag, my well worn sneakers, and there were a couple of mumbled good lucks and well dones which was really quite sweet, then a guy got on, with his red bag and sneakers, we did an awkward half smile and then as seasoned Londoners looked away. More and more joined the journey until the DLR from Charing Cross was a homogenous bunch of red bags and sneakers.
Greenwich park was teeming. I actually was really excited and feeling really good. There were so many people there. Some in costumes- surprisingly less than I expected actually. There were interviews with some people about why they were running- one guy was running for his daughters charity, she’d only died 2 weeks ago! There were so many people running with placards on their backs about their story and you realised how fortunate we are and I was really grateful to be running for Outward Bound and helping as many people as possible get to experience big adventures- ones they choose to do, as opposed to experiencing challenges beyond choice. Although I think there is nothing more powerful then someone doing something this challenging for a loved one who has been helped by a charity.
Eventually we got over the starting line 20 minutes after the clock started. And we were off! Guys, it was amazing. Just such an inclusive feeling- everyone from all sorts of backgrounds watching and cheering. Beer swiggers and champagne sippers; Posh people with their tea and corgi dogs; neighbours standing together half watching/ half gawping; clergymen and their blessed holy water and kiddies with their water pistols, old people waving from their windows; little children with outstretched hands desperate for high 5s or to try and give a runner, any runner a sticky jelly babies off their reaching palms, church bells were ringing, African drums beating; brass bands performing, music blared from windows, pubs, shops; shouts and laughs, just noise. Real, unpoliced noise.
And it was on this wave I just ran, grinning and waving (like an open anonymous freak) for the first 16 miles. It was amazing.
Then it got hard. And hot. I knew Matt, my dad and Jess were in Canary Wharf about mile 19- but I didn’t really know how much further away they were. I didn’t know how far I was, where I was and it was tough. I really wanted to walk but more than that I didn’t want them to see me walking. Matt has been such an awesome driving force for me, encouraging me, helping me and also being the whipping boy when I lash out. And so I wanted to make him really proud, so I carried on. I was surrounded by people commemorating their dads and children and so I also really wanted to see my dad and appreciate being able to remember this moment in my life with him there.
So to see them was really really special. I was just frikking knackered. Lots of people were starting to walk which was annoying as it meant having to run around them- but people, I ran around them, I patted some people on the back if they had a South African t-shirt on, or a really amazing message on their back. One old guy’s said: “2 years ago I had open heart surgery”. Another had his newborn son picture and the dates of his 2 day long lifespan. There were so many emotional glimpses throughout the time, even in remembering it.
Finally it was the last 6 miles. My legs just gave out. I’d stopped twice to stretch out my back, calves and feet. I tried doing it again, but there were so many people pressed against the sides of the roads, nowhere seemed suitable, so I carried on and then walked. I was desperate to do it in under 5 hours but I just didn’t have the strength in my legs. I was fine physically and mentally. Not out of breath, enjoying it but hey ho. I mean at one point I even felt sadness that it was soon all going to be over! In those last 3 miles Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament seemed so very far away. Finally, I was more worried that if I kept walking I wouldn’t be able to restart running, and so I ran. Forrest Gump once more. It was agony. Every lift of the leg, every crash of the foot jarred my back, my hips were burning, but I just picked up the pace and ran. Like not jogging, but running. I ran the last 300 metres, just like I’d hoped and dreamt I would. Head up, strong stride.
I saw my little family group again (Clever tip- balloons on a stick- find your friends every time) and from there I did run. Past the masses crammed onto pavements, teeming through St James park and I barrelled down to Buckingham Palace (I’ll never be an elegant runner) all around me you could hear the screams of support and the screams of fellow runners muscles as everyone pushed for the finish. The man in the panda suit; the pilot in the fighter jet; Snow White and Gandhi. All of us, swept along with the history of fiction and the sweat of a marathon. It was a great day.
No, it was my best day.
Let’s hope my arnica bath soak (Atro Bath Oil from A.Vogel) does the trick and I’m able to move tomorrow! Remember they have very kindly sponsored me too, so for every fan I tell about my recovery crutch they sponsor Outward Bound 50p- awesome product, awesome company 🙂 www.avogel.co.uk/outward-bound
I’m only £500 away from my sponsorship target too: www.justgiving.com/andreabritt