So here it is…the London Marathon 2016.
This time tomorrow, depending on how smoothly the start goes, I will be at least 3 miles into the slog, calming down the adrenalin, bustling in the mass of other runners, smelling that bizarre smell that only comes at the start of a race – one of sweat, nerves, adrenalin, – hearing the loud clatter of 1000s of feet hitting the Tarmac amidst the continuous noise of the crowd as we head out through South London towards Cutty Sark and the Tower.
My niece Matilda is going to be somewhere I hope in those first 10 miles – and I have a sneaky suspicion that my beloved friend Lin with family in tow will be relatively vocal as I turn right to stumble across Tower Bridge, after that I think the East End miles are going to be waiting to get back to the Embankment end of things were I am expecting my sister Catherine’s whistle to be defeating all those in her vicinity. I’m not sure where Nick, Rita, George, Emily & Bertie are planning on shouting, or Luke & James, but I’m hoping one or two of them will be hanging out with my wonderful Mummy who is going to be positioned in that last mile somewhere, channeling Daddy’s vocal chords to shout me down the Mall in what always feels like a Usain Bolt like sprint, but in reality would probably be faster if I were doing the sack race!
There’s no turning back now, it’s tomorrow and I am going to have to rely on some past remembered mental strength of my previous 15 marathons to get me to the finish line. In all honesty it has been the toughest 4 months training for a marathon I ever remember. Gradually getting back into running gently in December started well with some great runs down in Cornwall during my dad’s birthday and Christmas with my brother James:
And broke my right wrist, breaking the distal radius and chipping the bone. The next day I headed off to the wonderful Cape Town for the 2nd Test Cricket match between SA & England, where I had hoped to do some beautiful early morning runs along the coast. This was not to be, but the company & cricket more than made up for it. Coming back to the UK with an arm in a heavy cast for 6 weeks did not really mix well with going for runs longer than about 4 miles as it began to make me run a bit lopsided – not ideal over 26 miles! To add to the frustration of this was the mix of becoming single again and struggling with my job and general London life. The day my cast was cut off I felt was going to be so positive and I picked up my training, and felt along with my runners in my running club at my gym were I used to work that Spring was on its way. Not to be so…the next set back being “let go” from the Third Space half an hour before teaching my last class…12 years of dedication and slam – nothing. The new “Third Space” brand has no place for passion, loyalty and dedication. It left me a bit out on a limb and a bit desolate and not remotely like running. A week later in Cornwall again, I managed to break a toe (falling down stairs this time). Added to all this was the constant feeling of missing my dad. I have never experienced grief before and it is a tough cookie to get used to. I know that there are thousands of us out there running for someone we have lost tomorrow and I am not the only one. It is a tough mindset to deal with at times and the more I think about the race tomorrow the more mixed my emotions become – when I have run for a cause in the past it has always been for a cause I believe in such as improving hospital conditions in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Malawi, or the World Wild Life Fund, it has never been for such a personal cause. I know that I am running for Maggies Centres – but it is the fact that I am running for my Daddy that seems to make it so hard as I keep remembering past races: running down the Mall and hearing Dad’s voice coming from the grandstand seats where he & Mummy and Luke & Matilda had managed to cadge some seats, turning the last corner in Dublin and seeing him right in front of me bellowing for all he was worth, simply just hearing his English voice somewhere in the German crowd in Berlin, and always getting the biggest hug at the end in Cannes. I know he will be there, probably standing with my Mummy who I know this will be equally emotional for, as coming to watch without him for the first time. But I will miss him and running on emotion is tough – but don’t worry dad no matter what – I will cross the finish line…I have to, we have a table booked at your favourite restaurant Mr Buckleys!
I collected my number and chip yesterday at the London Marathon Expo…so if you are following on line or in the apple app this is my number: 41841
And here is what I am wearing front & back:
So all that there is left for me to say is a really BIG THANK YOU to everyone for their messages of love and support and to all of you that have sponsored me – I can’t tell you how much it means to me, every single one of you is making a difference, not just to Maggies, but to me as each one of you will help me plod through the agonising last few miles. Thank you.
And good luck to everyone else that is running tomorrow remember the words of the great Emile Zapotek: “If you want to win something, run 100 metres. If you want to experience something, run a marathon.” Tomorrow is going to be an experience, enjoy every step.