Tuesday, 23 April 2013

All's well that ends well!

Well I did it J Unlike a good wine though, I clearly do not improve with age!

There was a point at Mile 1 where I wondered if I would actually do it at all as the stupid groin injury reared it’s very ugly head and I thought ‘uh oh’ but then I thought as long as I can get to the end that’s all that matters. After that I had a ‘very’ different race to what I expected in the months leading upto it and strangely I had a simply awesome time!

So how did it go?

Well, on the Friday night I had a MAJOR meltdown of mega proportions. I was trying to stretch my painful back out and felt my groin pulling and got really upset and nervous. Cue, mass hysteria (that was Jamie when he realised the implications!) and me sobbing into my pasta meal (god I hate pasta right now). It was that sort of ‘convulsive sob’ that children do at times when you don’t understand what they are saying. Then Saturday came and my mate turned up from Dublin which meant I couldn’t act like a ‘prima donna’ anymore so I was forced to relax! I think Jamie may be forever in Deborah’s debt for that one
J Throughout the Saturday evening I was starting to see facebook pictures coming in from all over the country of people in their ‘Go Trish’ T-Shirts and was dumbfounded. They were all uploading them to show their support for me and I was so moved by it all. Yet AGAIN I marvelled at the efforts of people on my behalf. On Marathon Day I therefore woke up calm, collected and pretty happy.
I went through my morning routine and started ticking items off my list in a very well organised manner if I say so myself. I stumbled at ‘check weather and put suncream on’ though. The weather report was indicating sun in the afternoon with cloud and I figured any suncream on at 6am would be sod all use come 11am so didn’t bother. In hindsight I should have asked Jamie to take it with him and slather it all over me when I got to him on the course as boy was the lack of suncream a bad decision! London Marathon 2013 turned out to be a ridiculously HOT HOT HOT day! Just look at me afterwards!

So Jamie dropped me at the station and I said my goodbyes to him and the kids and felt my first emotional pang – there were so many more of those to come.  On the platform the buzz began, so many other Marathon runners immediately identifiable by their red VLM bags slung over their shoulder. There were some silent nods and smiles and then more exuberant exchanges with others – all of them complete strangers. As the train pulled up I decided to take the carriage with the EMU! Yep my first costumed Marathoner of the day was sitting on my train and I journeyed with him and his family all the way to Greenwich. My first real hiccup came when the DLR train tried to do us all serious injury before we even started. It was horrendous, we kept falling far short of 3 platforms and were being jolted in and thrown everywhere – not ideal for my back at that point and I felt slightly stressed out by it. Once out of Greenwich though I started to smile to myself as it was seriously good, all of us in droves walking collectively towards Greenwich Park.

In the red start I realised with a shock  what little time I had left before it all began. I joined a queue for the toilet which I did not realise was a queue FOR the toilet as I couldn’t see a toilet anywhere. Turns out that the 4 or 5 queues snaking around me would eventually lead to one WAY in the distance and it would take me 40 minutes to get to it. WOW!  This left me 10 mins to suddenly get my kit bag on the right truck, stretch and find my starting pen. It was thus that my first run of the day began with me charging to pen 9 with just a couple of minutes spare before the designated silence for Boston began.
And WHAT a silence. I’ve never been IN a crowd that does a designated silence before, although I’ve seen it on TV and been struck by how awesome it is.  My boss wrote me a wonderful congratulatory email after the race wherein he describes ‘how it seemed even the wind held its breath’ as he had gone to view the start line and been amongst it. It was like that though….a massive hive of activity and noise suddenly in a complete instant halted and everyone respectfully and purposefully thinking of Boston. It was a complete pleasure to be a part of that wonderful moment. Not for the last time that day would I think to myself that this turned out to be in fact THE most perfect day to run London than ever before.

After this I got talking to a young girl on my right and we walked to the start line together which took nearly 30 minutes in all. She was so so nervous and worried about running and I tried my best to encourage her along that walk. I’ve seen nerves at the start line before but she honestly looked scared. I looked at her name ‘Rosanna’ and afterwards I searched on the VLM site to see if she made it. Her pictures made me cry and rejoice for her. She made it in 7 hours and 15 minutes and I could see the pain in her face in her pictures and I just thought ‘wow girl, you made it!’ and then I donated to her cause. You see THIS is what the London Marathon does to you J
So MILE ONE lol! I had been prepared for the groin to go, it was the ONLY injury over all of those months where my Osteopath went ‘Ah’ when I showed him where I was hurt. He’s a pretty good Osteopath and got me through all other injuries so for him to say ‘Ah’ and then start asking if I wanted him to write me a deferral letter I knew it was a problem. So yes it was daunting to only be one mile in and feel it start to go. I’d gone through so much to get to that start line though so I simply refused to let it stop me. Alter my game plan …yes. Stop me….no! In hindsight this was probably a blessing in disguise as if it hadn’t happened I might have pushed really hard and then found myself really ill because by Mile 22 I already felt like I had sun-stroke. 

The London Marathon is a wonderful course to run/walk/hobble/crawl. Londoners are simply AWESOME at supporting you. You are constantly bombarded with ‘come on Tricia, you can do it’ and ‘TRICIAAAAAAAAAAAA, OWN IT GIRL’ and so on. You get to see ALL of London’s best bits from a great vantage point and all to the accompaniment of music as well. You are surrounded by amazing people and can’t help but laugh each time a Rhino or a Bumble Bee goes past faster than you.  Each time I crossed a 5k marker I knew my tracking device would update an app that would tell friends and family where I was…how cool is that? Although it didn’t stop people asking Jamie repeatedly where I was though lol – has nobody SEEN Donkey in Shrek? TUT!
VLM organisation is quite magnificent it has to be said.  Plentiful drinks stations, lots of marshals and the effort that goes into securing entertainment along the course is second to none. No matter what mile you are at there is something going on to help lift you up and keep you going. The music is often powerful and emotive. There was an awesome drumming band at one roundabout, rock bands outside pubs, brass bands on street corners, gospel choirs on steps and then rather bizarrely around Deptford there was what looked like a traditional folk dance group ‘of sorts’ holding hoops and standing on a stage side-stepping them. No music, some slight sound and a rather bizarre routine. It was for me ‘the’ most out of odds entertainment on the entire course. I went from sensory overload to this weird little set up and it just made me giggle so much.

Then just after Mile 12 I knew I was going to be seeing lots of friends and family and most important my wonderful Husband and kids J In my building elation I got stuck between a Rhino and a fellow runner for Beating Bowel Cancer and ‘high fived’ him, my fellow charity runner that is …NOT the Rhino …he had enough of an undertaking without having to High 5 me J Then suddenly the noise was TREMENDOUS, and a sea of WHITE T-SHIRTS was ahead of me and I spotted my Brother John first and started wolf-whistling towards him to indicate it was me. Words will NEVER EVER explain to you what the ensuing 5-7 minutes meant to me, did for me and how it helped me conquer the rest of that race. To be faced with such a massive crowd of people screaming your name, singing songs to you, hugging you, clapping you, crying to flipping SEE YOU (yes you Anna) and then be part of the moment ‘with them’ is an insurmountable experience. My beautiful children handed me sweeties and looked so excited in their oversized ‘Go Trish’ t-shirts with the Trish crossed out and replaced aptly with ‘Mummy’. My mate from Ireland was sitting ON TOP of a phonebox in spite of the Police demanding she shouldn’t! Marvellous.  It was a shared experience like no other and I didn’t want to leave them.  Yet leave them I had to. Besides, I don’t think the other revellers knew what on earth do make of it all, I must have had THE nuttiest, craziest, loudest and biggest set of supporters on the entire Marathon course. Really makes me smile that does.
So it was onwards I went passing rather happily the vital half-way mark, seeing the runners on the other side of the road to me snaking back towards the finish line as this part of the course couples with the return 22 mile mark. Later I would discover that THIS was where Mo Farrah finished his race and got off of the course. Pah! Mo Farrah couldn’t finish but I could and would! Who cares why he got off ‘blah blah blah’……. I was going the whole hog, no practice run for me J

Further down the road I made the almighty stupid mistake of stopping to use the toilets. I didn’t even NEED the toilet but logic told me I should stop around half way and try. TWENTY MINUTES I queued for that flipping toilet and when your body is screaming at you and seizing up this is not ideal. I took the moment to return a message sent to my blackberry by a friend wishing me luck and thanked her. She in turn firstly thought I had finished and then when she realised I hadn’t was gobsmacked to realise I had my Blackberry with me at all. Another moment to make me smile.
Time ticked by as did the miles. At around 17 miles people start hitting the ‘theoretical wall’ and I was saddened to witness for the 2nd time in doing this that people were indeed faltering all around me. When this happens you really question yourself. Why am I here? Am I ok really? Will I make it? We all know why I was there and we all know that I am ‘never ok’ and as for making it…….there was never a doubt in my own mind. At 22 miles I really honestly do think I was suffering sunstroke as mentioned. My head was pounding and I did feel some nausea and I simply could not believe that after training for months in the cold, London had brought me a ridiculously hot day to run in. So I stopped to walk a bit reminding myself that nothing was more important than to be safe – that I had family. This did work but my body was suddenly REALLY REALLY falling apart in all other areas then …knees…ankles…pelvis etc (all normal stuff to be fair for that distance) and I wondered if I would be able to pick up again and then the most amazing thing happened…

The DJ on my left played M-People….’What have you done lately to make me feel proud’!!!
I swear to god I could have gone over and kissed him. I couldn’t believe it – they were playing my/our song! It felt like a sign that all was good, all was well and I could certainly do it. In that little moment I cried to myself and I picked up my legs and started running again. I honestly felt a massive strength to me and felt lifted. If Stephen needed to find a moment on that course to remind me he was always with me, then I figure he picked that moment!

And so the end of the course drew closer, the amazing sight of Big Ben looming ahead. I managed to see my charity at their cheering point and they gave me a big hug. I texted Jamie to say how close I was much to the amusement of the crowds ‘PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY TRICIAAAAAAAAAAAAAA’  and I used the remaining energy I had to make this last section ‘count’ for me on a personal level. 10 years ago I had nothing left in me at this point, yet somehow this time and with a dodgy groin I somehow had the energy to pick up and go faster, letting Jamie know I was going for a ‘sprint finish ‘ and that I would call him once over the line. And I did! I flipping did! The crowds were ROARING and as I swung past Buckingham Palace I could see myself on a big screen and again I really giggled. Then I stared at the Finish Line ahead of me and smiled and raced to go get MY MEDAL!!!!!!!!!! Outstanding!

Over the line and with my medal placed over my head I was deliriously happy. It may not have been the race I felt I had trained for, it may have been ridiculously hard to keep going with the stupid injury but it was without a shadow of a doubt the most wonderful marathon EVER. With my VLM goody bag and my gammy leg I set off to find Jamie and the kids. Jamie, standing in a section beyond the finish was very nervous whilst waiting for me as there were people throwing up around him and looking seriously ill. It was with a mega surprise to him therefore that I appeared looking pretty intact and happy! I know I trained well, I know I committed properly and I know I have the right attitude to do a Marathon – what I don’t seem to have is a body that wants to support that knowledge lol
And so it was, the year that Tricia ran London again! With all its ups and downs I made it through and got to go have a party after! Pulling up locally to find family and friends waiting to celebrate with me was simply brilliant. My Sister Veronica did me so proud and allowed me to enjoy myself without having to worry about organising it too for which I’m eternally grateful. In the 10 years that has gone by lots has changed but it showed that friendships don’t have to.  I have been stunned by everyone’s support. I have been introduced to wonderful people who did not know me and yet supported me throughout. I have been amazed to reconnect with old friends and ’friends of friends’ and realise how many amazing people I have in my life.


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