This time last week I was sharing a bottle of wine and a cocktail to steady the old pre-race nerves, right now? Well at the time of starting to write this blog a few days ago, it was a pretty similar situation only this time there was no pre-race nerves and I didn’t have to share the wine 🙂 I’ll admit, I’m having a hard time trying to get my head around what happened just over a week ago. It’s not often I’m stuck for words when writing this blog and boring you all to tears with my journey but this time, my words fail me, so fathoming out why this blog is so damn long is way beyond my capabilities right now!
There’s no mile by mile account for this blog you’ll be pleased to know… mainly because it’s all a bit of a blur but what I do remember is waking up in my hotel bed thinking “Ah crap! I had a cocktail didn’t I?!” .. clearly this isn’t the way to go about prepping for your first rather long marathon type plod and I certainly wouldn’t advocate the use of my style of training plan, but as I fell out of bed at 6am to do the 10 foot dash across the room to turn my alarm off, reality set in … so I did the only thing I could think of and went back to bed. I couldn’t even lay in bed watching the pre-race footage on TV .. I suddenly became ostrich like and just wanted to bury my head under my pillow. As I was laying there I remembered I was being stalked via the VLM App and there’d be people out on the course for me .. well that’s not completely true …. there’d be people from the Redway Runners club out there supporting all 59 of us bar none along with my beautiful cousin who took a day trip from Kent to stand in the searing heat to cheer me on for the 5 seconds it took for me to recognise her and run straight passed her in a blurry haze.
This is the obligatory and official “Toilet Queue Photo” when it was all shits ‘n’ giggles … until I realised the queue was a mile long and my starting wave was a mile down the road with only 10 mins to wee and run!!
The first few miles were a great laugh .. there was a chap .. assume his real name was Mark … running for charity .. the crowds were shouting and cheering for him … so between us we gee’d the crowds up.. every time they shouted for “Marky Mark” he would shout back “come on Redway Kerry” and the banter between us continued for about 8 or 9 miles, between us we got the crowds going which was amazing! celebrity status at last and so many laughs .. he doesn’t know it, but he was a great support and I sincerely hope he managed to raise the thousands of pounds he was hoping to raise.
By mile 10 I was ready for a pit stop and realised that on such a hot day, my asthma was making an unexpected appearance .. so as I plodded towards the iconic Tower Bridge I sent an emergency message to my Pit Stop Director to tell him what I needed when I got there … Inhaler, jelly baby top up, water with High 5 Tabs …. everything else I knew my Pit Director would have in hand .. hugs, kisses, words of encouragement .. you name it he had it ready and I will be forever in his debt. I know that if he could’ve lifted me up and changed my tyres, he would’ve done that too.
A quick hug with my awesomely amazing mentor and his equally amazing and inspirational wifey and I was off again .. refreshed, and full of love for those guys … that feeling stayed with me for another 4 1/2 miles when disaster struck .. ok! way over the top there, it wasn’t a disaster .. I was only running after all, not saving lives, but at the same time, it felt like a disaster. I realised I was suddenly doing a lot of ducking and diving between people and when I removed my head from my ass, I realised that I couldn’t actually see anyone running. Absolutely no one around me was running, everyone looked defeated. I realise that for the previous 2 water stops there had been no water so did what I could to offer my measly supply around but everyone seriously looked totally drained. My head wasn’t strong enough to keep going, I checked on a few people but everyone was in their own little place, my heart went out to them to be honest. I was hot, the water wasn’t there and lets face it … as “high flying” as Canary Wharf is, it doesn’t have the most amazing scenery to take your mind away from the pain!!
For the next mile or so there was this weird conversation going on in my head .. it kinda went along the lines of “c’mon you idiot, run! this is a RACE, not a walk” to “it’s your first one, be kind to yourself” to “let your Pit Stop Director know you’re struggling, maybe he can help”, to “don’t be such a flipping jessie, just move those legs” …. by the end of mile 17 the “Tell your pit stop director” conversation won out so yet another emergency message along the lines of “The wheels have fallen off” was sent, to which the super speedy response of “I’m coming for you, keep moving forward” came my way and oh my god! I could’ve cried… at that moment I could’ve pulled up at the side of the road like a clapped out old banger and waited for my emergency services to come and jump start me. But that message was all my legs needed, they started moving and I started looking out for my hero in green to talk some sense into me, throw some water at me, slap me around the face, give me a reality check – anything to refuel me and get me going again! I later found out that he ran from mile 22 all the way back to about mile 20/21 to find me, after checking the app and realising somehow I’d gone passed him like some invisible ninja NightRider type car (oh my!! showing my age) he ran back and scrambled up a wall to get a good vantage point and Christ alive when I saw him (and to be honest the realisation I could stop plodding for a bit) I have never been so relieved. “It’s 4 miles Huntley, just 4 miles .. you’ve got this, you can do this, proud of you” he said whilst holding up my defeated frame so as to avoid the embarrassment of me having to conduct an undignified and potentially televised collapse.
Four miles … just 4 measly miles left to plod, walk, crawl – that was all it was. Just over a park run and well within my capabilities given that I can run one of those with a hangover these days. So that was it! just 44 mins of plodding left to do so, pointed in the right direction it was time to go again. My legs were burning, my head was empty, I tried to look around at the crowds to get some inspiration and then around mile 23 I heard this high pitched screeching … “Kerry, KERRY, KERRY, KERRY” and when I looked up , there in the middle of the road was my beautiful cousin… my cousin is slim, and tiny but holy Mary, mother of god has she got a gob on her!! I was so shocked to actually see her that I couldn’t get my legs to react quickly enough to change direction and go in for a sweaty hug – so I smiled and waved … and ran straight passed her (oops!!)
She told me later that she asked the Running Club she was standing with, to help her get my attention … quite honestly you didn’t need it love!! 🙂 Love you Suzanne, thanks for coming down to watch, and for sending a video of me dying to my entire family … I owe ya!!
oh! and this photo? … yeah thanks bird 😉
By this time, with just a park run type distance to go, I was starting to smile again … I’m not sure if it was heat stroke, exhaustion, delirium, dehydration, euphoria or the fact that after over 5 hours of running I could no longer feel any kind of sensation from my waist down. I knew I was still ducking and diving between people so used this to spur me on and as I continued to plod along the beautiful embankment route, where as a young 17 year old who had just passed her driving test, I used to speed up and down here late into the night (ssshh … ) I saw my mentor, his wifey, and some more Green Army supporters again, so off I went in for another round of mutual loving n hugs n pep talks before carrying on with this amazing adventure. Another mile down the road and another cry of “Go on Kerry” … were more Green Army runners with medals!! Damn! they had their medals and wow did that make me smile. Rounding the bend and totally disorientated I started to see the signs … 800m, 600m, 400m, 200m … crowds cheering on their friends and family all the while continuing to spur all of us runners on and finally with the sight of Buckingham Palace in view all I could think of was whether Lizzie would let us in for a cuppa tea and a biscuit once this was over.
And as I crossed the finish line, I looked down and stopped my watch at a disappointing 5 hrs 46 mins and was expecting the tears to flow …. but when you’ve sweated your entire body dry of any semblance of fluid you once held there’s no way those tears were going to come. So for once I forgot those tears and focused on getting my legs to stop running and start walking … that’s more difficult than it sounds you know!. As I proudly lowered my head to have my hard earned medal placed around my neck, I thanked the chap with what I hoped was one of my million dollar smiles 😉 and sweetly said “Bloody hell, this things heavy”. Picking up my bag was a smooth operation and the guys n gals were quick with their praise and messages of congratulations, then off to get my goody back and t-shirt and find my Pit Stop Director…. my work here was done!!
Thankfully I found my Pit Stop Director quickly, like an oasis in the desert, he wrapped his arms around me, took my weight in his and said “whaddaya need?” to which I gratefully replied “A sit down you ****ing idiot”. LOL, I didn’t really say that but he did clear a path towards a lovely patch of green, green grass and allowed me to collapse there for a while, while helping me bend, stretch and flex my worn out leg muscles.
So that’s it! One off the bucket list, but I really couldn’t finish this post without my long list of thank you’s for the special, heartwarming, inspirational roles people have played in getting me not only to the starting line but to the finishing line too
My Mentor – Take a bow Steve Boothby, you are my hero, my anchor, my friend – I hope, as I always hope, that I made you proud.
The Mentor’s wifey – Thank you Sue Boothby, for lending me your husband. You, my beautiful lady, give the best hugs in the world at just the right time. Your support and encouragement to not only me but all of the Redways, knows no bounds and I love you for it.
Chief Cheerleader & Pit Stop Director – My hero Chris Moy – what to say that you haven’t heard before? No one has ever had me flat on my back with my legs in the air as quickly as you have after a race (we’re talking stretches here people!!) You are the sole reason I was able to walk the next day and your ‘pearls of wisdom per words spoken’ ratio throughout this entire programme has been out of this world. You seem to know what I need without me saying a word (think calf sleeves, gin, last minute running belts!!), your selfless support is never ending and I can, hand on heart say, that no one has ever had my back as much as you do. You’re a man with a Lion’s heart always fighting for me, looking out for me and you make me proud of you every single day. This hasn’t been an easy journey for you either but I know you’re going to be amazing in your marathon and show me how it’s meant to be done ….. nothing is going to “Clong” it up! 🙂
Team Believe – What can I say about ‘Team Believe’. You believed I could, you told me I could and you were right! Thank you all for your wise words and wisdom.
Chief Believer – Kevin ‘Tills’ Tilley, Alistair & Beth Devenish, Dan & Mel Deller, Meera Vyas-Sparks, Nicky Hierons, Steve Wright
Team Inspiration – Each and everyone of you guys bought something to the table and supported, lent me a shoulder, spurred me on, encouraged me and inspired me, whether that was via FaceBook or Messenger or in person. Watching your own running journey’s has been truly inspirational. Thank you!!
Debs Miller, Lottey Gates, Beth Devenish, Reggie Ellis, Karen Place, “DJ” JP & Jude Srivalsan, Johanne Baldacchino, Karen Cobbett, Karen Morley, Leyla Currie, Lisa Cameron, Lynn Maddocks, Martin Smith, Tracey Smith, Martin Janes, Kathy Alderman, Melissa Jenner, Sadie Hursey, Tracy Thompson, Michael & Sam Devonald
Team Wine -For providing the more light hearted moments of marathon training, I present to you the small, yet elite team that no-one should train for a marathon without!
Andy Collins, David Andrew Bayley
Zero2Heros – We’ve each had our own journeys, we’ve each had our highs, we’ve each had our lows, no matter what path we chose and no matter how, why or when we get there, we’re all hero’s so don’t wait until you reach that finish line to be proud of yourselves, be proud of each step you have taken towards that goal.
Chief Lieutenant Hero – Sean O’Leary, Chris Moy, Barry Mussen, Caroline Jardine, Dan Morley, Denise Farmer, Holly Shaw, Justin Brownlow, Karen Ford, Nils Patel, Leanne Henniker, Lester Kirk, Lizzie Jardine, Sam Greenwood, Lucy Harris, Lucy Gross, Natasha Carter, Nicola Jane, Peter Galvin, Sally Green, Sarita Hawkins, Steve Quinnell, Zoe Austin, Laura Dickinson, Andy Weston,
Last but by no means least, the man with the meanest hands in Milton Keynes, Rudi Chaplin and his beautiful assistant Jo from The Treatment Lab. Thank you for fixing my calf Rudi and Jo .. thank you for maintaining my legs … which is something I never thought I’d put down in black and white.
So that’s it! The miracle in London wasn’t that I finished, it was that I had the courage to start and next weekend, it’s the MK Marathon and then… well! … who knows where this journey will lead but I know that I can’t write the next chapter if I keep reading the old one, so it’s time to draw a line under London (as amazing as it was) and look towards the MK Marathon and beyond.
Until next time.