**Photo from Heads Together**
Wednesday 25th April 2018 (10.21am)
So that is it, the 26.2 miles of London done and dusted for another year. After finishing I said never again, but as I reflect on the experience, there is no way that I will miss the opportunity if it comes up again next year.
The last 6 days have been another surreal, yet crazy experience. It started last Thursday as I made my way to London for the Mind over Marathon ‘one year on’ event with Heads Together, held at the Curzon in Victoria. It was amazing to be reunited with Chevy, Mel, SeSe, Rhian, Jake, Claudia and Nick Knowles. Unfortunately, Poppy, Paul, Sam and Steve could not join us, but they were all there with us in spirit as we chatted to an audience. This can be viewed via the Heads Together Facebook page.
I cannot believe that we are one year on and I have my second London Marathon finishers medal. Sunday was tough, as I along with 41000 others battled the heat bumping off the streets of the capital. For me Sunday was a mind game, I knew that I was physically in shape to take on the challenge, mentally I was in a better place than last year but the conditions were going to be the ultimate test.
I woke up Sunday morning thinking that I was just going on a long run (with lots of others). I was not nervous, in fact I don’t get nervous, I knew where I had to go to start and I adjusted my game plan in my head to slow my pace down and aim for 10 min miles. I knew I could beat last years time, but that was not really on the agenda. It was more about finishing comfortably and without injury or illness.
I was in the blue start, pen number 6 and whilst waiting I chatted with others, some who were on their first journey of London.
From the start, the heat was a factor, I saw a runner receiving medical attention in the first two miles. I felt the heat pounding down which made me even more determined to stick to my pace plan, stay hydrated and well fuelled. I could have chased it early on, but I was not there for that. The crowds were amazing, people handing out sweets, slices of oranges and I have never been so grateful for an ice pop lolly! That cold, orange flavoured hit came at exactly the right time. I will never forget the sheer amount of people and the reception on Tower Bridge. It is something that as a runner has to be experienced. Words cannot describe the lift it gives you at the half way mark. I felt good at this point, again thoughts of ‘pushing it’ went through my mind. I was on for a 4hr 15 finish. I remained sensible as I ran through to 20 miles. This is when it began to get tough. It seemed to got hotter, the crowds appeared to get bigger, louder and enclose. Lots of people were walking, many were on the side of the road, beaten by the conditions. I carried on slowly, not stopping and never walking as I knew I would not get going again.
At mile 23, things became even harder, I wanted to stop. My body was hurting. I started to feel sick. It was time to play the head game ‘its just a park run to go’. This felt like hell. I had seen many people who I knew along the way but I was prepared to go the last few miles on my own. Zoned out from the world and noise around me. My legs somehow kept going as I turned onto the Mall and saw the count down signs, 800m (‘only twice around an athletics track’). Just keep going. Then I saw a friend who I had met through Twitter. Jules who works for the London Ambulance Service, you were my angel as I heard you shout my name, the hug as I literally fell onto you was exactly what I needed at this time. You spurred me on to the end. You and your colleagues were amazing that day. Thank you for that. We will meet up in different circumstances soon.
Then I saw it, the finish line, it was getting closer, or was it. Was I going backwards? I was overtaking people, or were they overtaking me? I have no idea, but there it was the end, the red finish line. I had done it. I had crossed the line in 4 hrs 31.17.
I will take that.