In April 2011 I ran the London Marathon and raised £2600 for Asthma UK. It was a 'once in a lifetime' experience...or so I thought. Bravely (or stupidly) I'm doing it again, and this blog will chart my progress while I train for my second London Marathon. Come with me on my journey towards the big day. Here I go...again!

Monday, 23 April 2012

London Marathon - 22nd April 2012

I was wide awake by 5am and showered, dressed and ready to go by 6.30am.
I headed out to the train station a 6.45am, and someone passing by asked if I was running the marathon (not because I look fit and athletic, but because I had my running number pinned to my vest). When I said I was he hugged me and wished me luck - and that set the tone for the kindness of strangers that continued all through the day. I waved goodbye to my family who had walked me to the station, and so my morning began for real.

The closer I got to Greenwich, first on the underground, and then on the DLR, the more runners packed into the train. There was a distinct smell of deep heat and nervous energy in the carriages, but also a great camaraderie.

Instead of following the main throng of runners at Greenwich I headed to the hotel where my friend Simon was staying. We walked up through Greenwich Park together, but said goodbye at the top of the hill as he had a ballot place and was at a different start to me.

I was in the red enclosure before 8.30am, and went straight to the baggage truck to hand in my bag. I was thrilled to see Sue, someone I used to work with, already there. She was also running for Muscular Dystrophy, and it was great to have someone to chat to while we waited for the start. Not long after, another friend, Sarah Jane, walked by, and the three of us headed to the start together, spotting other Muscular Dystrophy runners along the way.
Time passed slowly while we waited, but it was reassuring to be surrounded by friends...

...and then it was quarter to ten.

The crowd started to surge forwards and the race had begun.
Fortunately your own time doesn't start until you cross the line (as recorded by the timing chip that all runners fix to their shoes) as it took 25 minutes to reach the start line.
The forecast had been for showers, but as we set of there wasn't a cloud in the sky, and it was warm but with a cool breeze. Perfect.

I knew the family would be waiting for me at Cutty Sark, but I resisted the temptation to go with the crowd and kept a steady, even pace.

I checked my Garmin at mile 2 only to find a 'function error' message on the screen. I rely totally on my watch for my pace, and to be without it so early on was disastrous. I could see the time still ticking behind the error message so didn't turn the watch off, and by toggling backwards and forwards between screens it finally righted itself by about mile 4. Phew!

Somewhere around here Sarah Jane came whizzing past me, and I didn't see her again. (She did amazingly, finishing in under 5 hours.)

The first six miles flew by, and as the clipper came into sight I started scanning the crowds for some orange t-shirts.

The family were on the far side of the ship, and I paused briefly for a hug and words of encouragement before carrying on to our next rendezvous - at Tower Bridge.

I made it to Tower Bridge, almost half way, and met up with Sue at the Muscular Dystrophy cheering point. She was struggling a bit, but would soon be on her way again. My family were waiting on the far side of the bridge. They replenished my stocks of butter fudge and told me I was on course for my target. I

waved them goodbye, not expecting to see them again until mile 20.

It was within a mile or so of the halfway point that my lower back started to hurt. Just a little at first, but as the miles went on I knew I was running awkwardly to compensate for the discomfort.

My family managed to squeeze in an extra cheering point around mile 17, and by then I was in considerable pain.

Within a mile of seeing them I had started to be sick, and this continued for the rest of the run. I've never experienced anything like it in training, and it didn't happen in the marathon last year, but it was a huge problem. I knew I was slowing down, but felt weaker and weaker. I kept sipping water as I was worried I'd dehydrate, but nothing was staying down. People in the crowd, and fellow runners, were so kind. If it wasn't for them I would probably have given up.

Everything becomes a bit blurred after this point, so forgive me if I get details wrong.

I saw the family again at mile 20, and I was having serious doubts about being able to finish. The blue skies had been replaced by black clouds and a few drops of rain had started to fall. Taking the forecast into account, I'd asked the family to carry my running jacket 'just in case' and that was probably the best decision of the day. I put it on just as the clouds burst.

The wind picked up, and for a couple of miles there was driving rain with hail mixed in. By this point I was only able to walk, with the very occasional run, so got colder and colder. By mile 24 when I saw the family again I was shivering. They'd found a pair of gloves in their bag, and I managed to squeeze my frozen fingers into them and keep going.

'One foot in front of the other' became my mantra.

The last two miles were awful! I remember getting to the mall and thinking I should smile for the camera at the end, but by that point I just hadn't got the energy! My timing chip was removed, my medal hung round my neck, and I kept moving towards the luggage truck to get my bag. One of the marshals stopped me to check I was ok, and tied the foil blanket around me to help keep some warmth in, and slowly but surely I made it to the steps at the end of the Mall where my family were waiting for me.

As soon as they spotted me they ran down the steps, and I finally gave into the tears. I was a wreck, but I'd completed my second marathon.

We made it to the post-race reception, where there was hot, sweet tea, showers and a massage waiting for me. I can't thank the Muscular Dystrophy team enough for their kindness. They were so lovely, and took such good care of us all.

Simon had finished in under five hours and was having his massage by the time I arrived. It was so good to hear how well he'd done. We stayed at the reception for about an hour before heading back to the hotel to collect our bags, and then travelling home.

I don't think I'll be doing another marathon. The training takes over your life, and the distance is gruelling, but there is an amazing buzz when you finish.

It's been a long few months preparing for the marathon, and as ever I couldn't have done it without the support of my family and friends. You've helped me raise over £1200 for Muscular Dystrophy.

Thank you for sharing the journey with me.


  1. Aww Jas - almost in tears reading this very very well done...sounds like you had a tough time...youve done it twice now...very pleased for you....sure your dad would be so proud of you and sure youll have a conversation with him in the future about it...think youve done your bit now...but that probably wont be the last you do in order to raise money for this amazing charity. Lots of love - Deb...xx

  2. So proud of you.What ever you do mkes your family and friends proud to know you.

  3. Thank you, Jas, for sharing your London Marathon experience. Earlier, I read portions of it aloud to Sheila (she was in the kitchen); and she just now finished reading the entire post, herself.

    You did a great job. Hope you get to relax for a while, now.

    Craig & Sheila Boyd

  4. I've enjoyed reading your blogs Jas. I'm full of admiration for your determination. It was obvious from FB yesterday that you'd struggled in the second half, but until I read this blog I had no idea of the extent of that struggle. I know I would have given up - I have no idea where you found the strength to keep going, but if anyone deserves that medal, you do! Put your feet up now and get the family to pamper you for at least a week. For now - job done! Maybe a half marathon next time?! Love, Rachel xx

  5. Well done Jas.....I too know how tough it can be when you're cold, sick and tired, but hey did it!! Be very proud of yourself, it's an amazing achievement.....and eat lots of chocolate, I find that cures anything!! Jane x