I first ran the London Marathon in 2011 deciding I wanted to do something for charity when my Dad first got ill and was put on the transplant waiting list for a new liver and kidney. I then ran it again for charity in 2015 when he was incredibly poorly, to give him something to look forward to and to raise more awareness for organ donation.
On Sunday I was incredibly lucky and honoured to run the London Marathon for the third (and final) time, this time in celebration of a successful transplant, and in memory of his amazing organ donor.
After a bad run whilst suffering from injury in 2015, I had a plan of attack that was going to get me round as close to 5 hours as possible, although if all failed, sub 5 hours 30 was ‘ok’. I was to start at 11 minute miles, slowing to 12 after the first half if I needed to. I set off with Caroline, Tracy and Zerrin at a steady, slightly faster than planned, but maintainable pace. We had a fab first 5 miles, but it was much much hotter than anticipated. We had a pit stop for the loos and even did a quick rendition of ‘Sweet Caroline’ on the karaoke before setting off again.
I started to slow quite quickly, and lost Caroline and Tracy soon after. I’m not quite sure what happened then but I started to feel ill – faint and nauseous, but I knew my family were at mile 9 so I carried on regardless. I saw them through mile 9 then started to feel worse. I’m not sure why – was it the heat, the electrolyte drink, the gel I’d had, or withdrawal from giving up alcohol a week previous? Who knows, but whatever it was I was forced to start walking. This was NOT part of the plan.
I saw my best friend at 11 miles and told her I didn’t think I could continue… what was happening to me? I’d done 20 mile training runs and not stopped once!
Miles 12 to 15 were not good, with a mix of run walk, weighted heavily on the walk side. At this point I thought ‘this is stupid SORT YOURSELF OUT’
I talked a lovely lady into letting me use her very posh loo, gave myself a good talking to and a splash of water to the face and got back out there.
Thinking of Samantha Pitticks last words of wisdom to me, I developed a run walk strategy. Run to the mile marker, walk if needed for ¼ mile, run to mile maker and so on. This had me ticking the mile markers off, the walk breaks became less and less and although my ‘time’ was out the window if I carried on as I was I could still get a PB by ten minutes.
A cheer from my Aunt at mile 18 followed by a family crowd of 8 at mile 19 really got me in to the rhythm. From then on I was 2 steps ahead of a rhino…. Rhino Ellie I believe.
If I could offer a top tip for a struggling marathon runner, it would be to run 2 steps ahead of a rhino. The crowd go absolutely wild for them, and I was to bask in Rhino Ellie’s glory for miles to come.
35km came and there was my next door neighbour, with 2 broken feet from Brighton, cheering me on! 7k to go… a park run and a bit. I’ve so got this. My run/walk strategy was becoming more of a keep running slowly strategy. All I has to do now was get to 25.5 miles where I knew my Dad and Husband would be.
At 25.5 miles, sure enough, I look to the right and there’s my Dad, not 8 month’s previous having a lifesaving double transplant, screaming ‘Go on Hannah, you’ve done it, you’re there’ and running as fast as he can along the side of me, close to tears and snapping away on the camera. This was all I needed to keep me going.
600 metres to go and thoughts turn to making sure I am in the right place to get to Samantha and Karen at the finish. If I take a medal from anyone other than Samantha I know I was going to be in trouble!
My plans of a great finish photo went out the window as emotions got the better of me. I crossed the line in 5 hours, 44 minutes and 53 seconds… 11 minutes better than the last time and with £2,800 raised for the Hospital that saved my Dads life, I couldn’t really ask for more than that!!