Heather finishes the London Marathon

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Heather London Marathon

A letter from Heather.

Firstly, a huge and very heartfelt thank you for your sponsorship, it lifted my spirits and spurred me on when the training got tough and when I was so tired I wasn't sure quite what to do. And a special thank you to those of you who I don't know personally, I was very touched by your donations.

I just wanted to share with you a little of last Sunday and the big day. I caught the train to London late Saturday morning; to collect my number from the ExCel. The tube was packed and we soon realised we were all going to the same place and started chatting. As we got off the tube two ladies I had been talking to waited for me; we chatted and laughed all the way into the Expo (which was very slow due to the number of people trying to collect their numbers). I collected my number and then my timing chip — despite the number of people this was a very quick and painless task. I then met up with a running friend from home (she had a good for ages place i.e. she's fast!) for a coffee and a look around the Expo. Then it was time to collect goodie bag number 1 full of food and drink etc. and head off for the hotel; I was staying in Canary Wharf.

Two friends, met me at Canary Wharf and we went for the obligatory pasta dinner, all the Italian Restaurants were packed! Having checked all my running gear for the next day it was early to bed; no surprise I was awake at half past six and straight out of bed and getting ready; feeling incredibly nervous! Kirsty from MHA met me at the hotel just before 8am for a pre-race interview; then it was off to the start line on another packed tube with everyone chatting to complete strangers. After a short walk; no need to worry about finding the start, the route was lined with helpful friendly marshals and it was just a case of following the crowds. I was lucky to be met by a lovely calming reassuring friend; by this point I was a hopeless mess of nerves!! Then through to the runners only start area; leave my bag of warm clothes and food for the finish line with more helpful, happy marshals to be put on to a lorry to be taken to the end and then the long queue for the toilets with lots more chatting to more complete strangers!

Eventually, to the start line and the starters gun; nothing happened ... Eventually we started to walk and 18 minutes later I crossed the start line. The camaraderie amongst the runners continued and the crowds cheered. Throughout the course the crowds were amazing; cheering runners by name, children looking for high fives; spectators offering sweets, orange segments and bananas. The route was always lined by people and where the streets were smaller the communities had got together and there were little stall selling teas and coffees; people had set up ad-hoc DJ stations with music blaring and commentary; people out in their PJs and dressing gowns cheering us on; I even saw a solo trombonist playing for us; an unforgettable atmosphere. It wasn't long before I was crossing Tower Bridge; just such an iconic sight; nearly halfway.

Then ... oh dear my knee started to ache — a short walk and it started to feel better but when I ran it hurt. I decided that although I didn't want to stop; that if I didn't ask for help I was never going to complete the marathon (that was not an option). So around mile 15 I sought help from a Physio on the course; a lovely young volunteer from the NHS who doesn't normally treat running injuries. He gave me a good massage and put an ice-pack up my leggings and wished me luck. I managed to continue running albeit at a slower pace and with some pain; the crowds really kept me going, I don't remember much of the next 9 miles!! The photos say it all; I'm trying to smile but I'm grimacing! Around mile 24 I felt stabbing pains in my knee and hopped to a walk, very concerned but at least I could walk the last two miles if I had to. By mile 25 I had resolved that I was not going to walk down the Mall so, I gingerly started to run — no pain what a relief; my spirits were lifted by seeing friends around the route and those amazing crowds who were willing me on.

The finish line came in to sight; such a welcome sight and a complete mix of emotions; fighting back the tears. I crossed the line remembering to raise my arms for the cameras. I volunteer put a medal around my neck and another volunteer asked if I was okay and pointed me in the direction of the official finish line photo — all done except for collecting goodie bag number 2 — so heavy, full of more food and drink and slowly limping to collect my bag and then on to Trafalgar Square to meet my amazing support team of very dear friends. A small glass of champagne and then red wine. Well if I have to run in a red wine coloured T-Shirt and I don't drink throughout my training — it was essential 😊.

Thank you all for your support,

Heather

 

P.S. The knee has completely recovered proved by the fact that I ran 4 miles on it yesterday, with no ill effects.

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