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To celebrate my 50th birthday, I will be running the London Marathon on the 22nd April plus another 23.8 miles to make the distance up to a round 50 miles! If anyone wants to check on me, I'll be running most of the course in reverse, starting from under Blackfriars Bridge at about 4am and hopefully reaching the start line before the womens elite race sets off at 9am!
I am running for The Children's Society, the charity I was adopted through. They also helped me to trace my birth mother 15 years ago. The charity do a lot of great work helping people cope with the reunion process through their post-adoption project. In keeping with the fifty theme, I'm hoping to raise fifty £50s for them
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Well I managed to complete my challenge, but it was a real struggle.
After completing a trouble free training programme, my preparation in the 24 hours leading up to the challenge was a disaster. I ate too late on Saturday evening and didn't get to sleep until 11.30pm, giving me just 2 hours kip! I then ate breakfast at 1.45am despite still feeling full from dinner.
I started running at 4.05am, accompanied by my friend Tom on his bike, and everything was going well until I reached Docklands, where I managed to become lost twice, losing 45 minutes until a race marshall arrived and pointed me in the right direction. I began to feel sick and experience stomach pains after about 10 miles. I limped on to Greenwich where Tom dropped out and another friend Neil ran with me the last 6 miles to Greenwich Park.I didn't feel like drinking because of the nausea and became very dehydrated after about 20 miles, feeling very light-headed. I only realised this when I ate a piece of chocolate and was unable to swallow it because my mouth was too dry. Luckily, some water and a big bag of Jelly Babies came to the rescue and I reached Greenwich Park in 5 hours, 21 minutes and 23 seconds.
At the marathon start I discovered I had forgotten my change of top and socks, suffered bad cramp in my left leg and had a reccurring stitch each time I tried to run. At one stage I was in last place behind several people in heavy rhino costumes and 3 dressed as London landmarks. The 101 year old Sikh was out of sight ahead of me. I felt depressed and embarrassed!
As I struggled along overtaking a few very unfit looking people, I spotted a man in a gorilla suit. He also seemed to be in a spot of bother so I tagged along with him, helping to carry his collection bucket. It turned out Steve had spent the previous two weeks walking from Bradford to London in his gorilla suit with no back up team, and some of you thought I was mad! We decided to walk most of the course but run every time we passed somewhere playing music.
We carried on like this despite cramped feet and aching muscles until the last 6 miles, when the wind and rain hit us head on and it was a grim trudge through the East End, being forced on to narrow pavements as the roads reopened. The only relief came 3 miles from the finish where the Children's Society cheering team had stayed out in the driving rain to support me, one of many moments when the tears welled up a bit.
Competitive to the end, we overtook the 101 year old Sikh and his entourage near Westminster, but they battled back past us when we stopped for photos outside Buckingham Palace. A desperate limping sprint for the line saw us regain the advantage at the last moment and the race was over in 7 hours, 21 minutes and 7 seconds, making a combined total for the 50 miles of 12 hours, 42 minutes and 30 seconds. I reckon I could shave 3 hours off that but I don't think I will be daft enough to ever attempt that again!
A big thank you to everyone who has donated, all those who offered encouragement during the race, the team from the Children's Society and especially the friends and family who supported my fundraising and kept me going during the run.