I can’t quite believe it, but we did it!
Goodness me, 26.2 miles is a long way. Such a long way. We stayed up too late the night before in mild hysteria, and reached the start line with an unseemly giddiness.
We started at the back, of course. I was tempted to pick up a bar of Kendal Mint Cake that someone had dropped in the mud (can’t let it go to waste, as my lovely marathonning friend said), but remembered just in time that I hate the stuff.
The first few miles went well. We broke my previous 5k record, then knocked a good 30 minutes off my previous 10k record. ‘Hmm’ we thought, ‘we’re probably going too fast, best slow down a little’. Much easier said than done when the sweeper bus is driving 5 feet behind you.
So we didn’t slow down, and we hit 10 miles in just over 2 hours. Which I’ve never managed to do before. Hmm. At this point we were still rather giddy and over excited, and rather pleased that we weren’t suffering too many ill effects.
Then it all started to go a bit wrong…
We passed half way at just under 3 hours, and it was at that point we realised we were never going to make the 6 hour cut off.
My sister got a little delirious, swaying about and muttering under her breath for several miles. I considerately suggested we could get on the sweeper bus (purely for her sake, of course, nothing to do with my tired legs), but she was muttering ‘medal. Shiny medal. Shiny medal’ to herself, over and over again and was quite clearly not going to give up.
After 18 miles, we persuaded the driver of the sweeper bus to give us a map and go away. Finally left alone, we sat down in the shade and had a bit of a picnic.
At 19 miles, a marshall came running over and insisted we wear high visibility jackets, as they were going to open the roads soon, and didn’t want us to be run over (I confess the thought of being carried away on a stretcher was quite appealing, although admittedly it would have been a shame to have done that many miles and not finished).
At 20 miles I’d completely had enough. Every part of me hurt, and I was busy rehearsing how I’d tell everyone that I’d given up and not finished. My sister on the other hand, having spent several miles doing nothing but muttering ‘medal shiny medal’ to herself, got a second wind. ‘There’s only 10k to go!’ she trumpeted, and set off at a gallop. I just stared. ‘Come on!’ she cajoled, ‘we can do 10k in an hour!’ (neither of us have ever done 10k in an hour before).
So on we ran, and our cycling entourage (lovely marshalls sent to make sure we didn’t get lost, or drop in a heap) were impressed that we were still running, saying ‘there are people in front of you in a much worse condition!’ (I think that was meant to be helpful). They told us all manner of nonsense – ‘the mayor’s waiting at the end for you two!’ (he’d got bored and gone home by the time we made it, needless to say). They offered us sandwiches, and told us they’d never be able to do it themselves.
We kept being overtaken by the lovely people who were clearing the roads of dropped water bottles (they were doing a grand job). At 22 miles I locked myself in a portaloo, and refused to come out until Lorraine started shaking the sides (how mean!). At 23 miles my mother appeared, and told us Lorraine’s husband and sons were waiting by the river.
At 25 miles, we hit a short hill. I started to walk, but Lorraine ignored it entirely and carried on. One cyclist went with her, one stayed with me. We ran past my nephew – ‘your mum’s beating me!’ I said. ‘Of course she is’ sighed the six year old…
I had no idea what was going on any more. I remember registering that my mum’s car was the only thing left in the now-abandoned racecourse. I remember my sister jumping up and down at the end, and one of the marshalls shouting ‘come on, you can crawl from there!’ I remember crossing over the line and being handed a goody bag and a medal, then kissing each of my rather surprised cycling entourage in turn (sorry guys, probably not a pleasant experience for you, that one…)
- don’t mess with my sister – she is more stubborn than you can possibly imagine
- sometimes it’s better to sit down for a bit than plough on through the pain
- running 26 miles hurts. A lot.
- it is actually possible to keep going even when you think it’s not
Next time I’d make sure I was closer to home. Sitting on a crowded train for 2 hours straight after all that running does not a pair of happy legs make.
What am I saying?? There will not be a next time. Absolutely not. No.