Eight days have now passed since the Bristol to Bath Marathon and I still can’t believe what I managed to achieve! It’s ok for me to admit to you now that prior to the run I was seriously worried! Having run professionally in my younger years I was well aware of the challenge that lay ahead and I knew the pain that I was about to endure. I had started off well with my training a few months back but as you all know this had slipped over the last few weeks and I was nowhere near fit enough to run a marathon. If I’m perfectly honest the longest run I’d done in training was a mere 7 miles!
Despite my lack of preparation, as I stood at the starting line my nerves started to melt away. The atmosphere was great and I felt immensely proud to be part of this amazing event. Everyone was there for their own special purpose, whether it be to run a new personal best or, like me, to raise money for a cause close to their heart. From that moment onwards I knew that I was going to complete this marathon, even if it killed me!
At just after 9am we were off! I was pleased to have found a friend of mine in the crowd so we were able to start together and offer each other some much needed words of encouragement! Thankfully the weather conditions were perfect. It was a chilly morning but the sun was shining and there was barely even a breeze. I felt quite comfortable just jogging along at my own pace but it wasn’t far from my mind that this was about to get much MUCH harder!
Helen had accompanied me to the start and had set off to find a good spot to watch me run past. Sure enough, at around the 8 mile mark, there she was cheering me on! I could see the relief on her face as she saw that I was still smiling, but I was already starting to feel the pain! The incredible support of the public spurred me on. At every corner there were people cheering and holding banners. I felt quite emotional imagining what people had been through or were going through in order to put themselves through such a gruelling challenge to raise money. It reminded me of my own personal battles and I knew that whatever I went through today it would be nothing compared to the challenges that I had already faced. The knowledge that I was doing this to help to ensure that others receive the help and support they require in their time of need is what kept me going more than anything.
My Mum and Dad and Helens parents also cheered me on at various points along the route so I was able to look forward to seeing a familiar face! The worst part of the marathon was the Kelston Road which is a long stretch of road that runs between Bristol and Bath. Not only was it hilly, but it was also very lonely as the road ran through a rural area which meant there were very few spectators. It was just sheer guts and determination that kept my legs moving. I’m told that there was a nice view, but I can’t say that I took much notice!
As I finally reached the City of Bath I thought that I must be nearing the finish line but it seemed to go on forever! Thankfully, Helen had travelled to Bath to meet me at the end of the marathon and she kept me going along the last mile by running next to me and feeding me Jelly Babies! As I ran along the last stretch I could hear people shouting my name and I was delighted to see that a group of friends had gathered to watch me cross the finishing line! Thanks to them I was able to dig deep and pick up my pace for the last leg!
I had done it! Every muscle in my body ached, but I had done it! I was so proud of myself and even prouder when I saw the pride on my family and friends beaming faces! My poor mum was even reduced to tears! Before I knew it my friends were whisking me off to the pub for celebratory food and drinks! It proved a challenge in itself to hobble back down the hill into the centre of Bath, luckily I had a shoulder to lean on! Disappointingly I put on a very poor show and I was only able to manage to drink half a pint before exhaustion set in! My next challenge was to get to the train station and I can assure you that every step was agony! I must say a special thank you to Chris Nelson who kept me upright. I would never have made it home otherwise!
Thankfully I have now made a full recovery although it was a good couple of days before I could walk down the stairs rather than slide down them on my bottom! I don’t think I have ever felt pain quite like it, but I didn’t moan too much because with it came the most immense sense of achievement! I ran 26.2 miles in 6 hours 15 minutes and although I’m a little disappointed that my time wasn’t a bit better, I know that this will only improve with training. I’m just over the moon that I was able to complete this marathon challenge!