My first half…..would it be my FIRST and maybe my LAST? I wouldn’t know until I’d experienced it for myself! So what inspired me to sign up for my first half marathon you may wonder and why choose the London Landmarks Half? I had be thinking about signing up for my first half at the beginning of last year but wasn’t sure which one to go for and then a few friends mentioned they were signing up for the LLMH. It then took one of the worse weeks of my life to make me decide to go for it and get it booked!
Unfortunately my son George spent a very worrying 7 days in hospital last February when a large lump appeared out of nowhere in his neck. During his stay in hospital he was tested for many things including Leukaemia and TB but after a week of IV antibiotics it was discovered he in fact had a very nasty infection in his lymph nodes and ended up having to have surgery to remove an abscess that had formed. Thankfully for George he has made a full recovery and bounced back but as a parent it made me realise how thankful I was to have my little boy fit and well again and that’s when I decided I’d run for ‘The Make a Wish Foundation’ to help raise money for families with children who had life long or even terminal illnesses who weren’t as fortunate as us.
In the weeks leading up to race day I’d not fitted much (enough) training in at all due to personal circumstances at the beginning of the year and I have to admit there were times when I felt I couldn’t do it but that’s when all my lovely friends at Sandhurst Joggers stepped in to encourage me, help me to believe in myself again and push me on to be on that start line on Sunday 25th March.
So let’s get to the morning of the race. We were at a bit of a disadvantage to start with as the clocks had moved forward during the night before so we were all a little bleary eyed when setting off! I was travelling into London with Angela (Foker) and Katie (Woolger) as well as a good friend of mine Amanda who runs half marathons for fun and had always promised to run my first half with me. Angela’s hubby Mark had kindly offered to be our driver and our bag carrier too which saved us queuing for the bag drop (we seriously owe him a Guinness or too!) The weather conditions were ideal in London…cool and dry.
I think I can speak for us all when I say we were very nervous but we knew from the amazing pre race organisation from not only the LLMH team but also from Make a Wish Foundation that we were in for a good day! There was promise of lots of entertainment on the way round and we weren’t disappointed! After the normal pre race rituals…pinning on our numbers,ensuring my hair was secured (Katie had hers braided in McDonald’s!!!) going to the toilet, followed by going to the toilet again only 10 minutes later (wish I hadn’t broken the seal!!!!) we then started making our way to the start line. We were brown (chocolate!) wave and due to start at 9:58 however it soon became clear that the waves had all seemed to mix and rather than them sticking to the scheduled starts it was a bit of a free for all so without any further ado we were off!
For us this was fine but for the more serious (speedy runner!) I’m sure this was a little frustrating. The streets were lined with hundreds of supporters and as promised there was so much going on from steel bands, singers and dancers,the atmosphere was superb which meant the first few miles seemed to dwindle away quite quickly. At about mile 4 Angela needed to stop for a toilet break but insisted my friend Amanda and I kept going. Katie had made the decision to hold back at the start and wait for the 2:45 pacer so from this point on it was just Amanda and I amongst many other thousands of people from all walks of life running through the streets of London. Each person running either for a charity close to their hearts or to simply achieve that new PB!
We passed many famous buildings/landmarks along the route although I have to admit the more miles I clocked up the less notice I was taking of my surroundings. From around mile 8 I really started to feel it in my legs. Amanda didn’t mention it at the time but at the end did comment that I went particularly quiet from that point (for those of you that know me this isn’t normal!) Mile 8-10 I took on a few fruit pastilles & water where I could and in my mind I just wanted to see that 10 mile marker so that I knew I only had 5k to go and I’d be done.
Mile 10 came and went and so did my umph!!! At mile 11 I really thought it was going to beat me, my legs were literally like lead and the thought of another 2 miles was really messing with my head. I was kicking myself for not getting more training in and started saying to Amanda…I don’t think I can do it! But there was no way she was going to let me stop. You’ve got this she told me, don’t stop now, think of all the money you’ve raised for ‘Make a Wish’ she kept reminding me and it was at that point we came across the second crowd of the ‘Make a Wish’ cheer squad! They were clapping and shouting our names, it gave me such a buzz and that’s what got me through the last mile and to the finish line!
As we headed towards Downing Street the crowds were going mad, we turned the corner and there was the finish line (thank goodness) Amanda grabbed my hand and somehow my legs went from a very steady plod to a full on sprint. I’d done it…… I’d run my first half marathon in 2:22:43 and most importantly in doing so I’d raised an amazing £845 for ‘Make a Wish Foundation’. Chuffed was an understatement….I was over the moon when my medal was put over my head and what a gorgeous medal it is too! It actually opens up and I’ve since purchased an itab with my name and race time on as a little momento!
After gathering myself and getting my breath back we picked up some goodies and then waited to see Angela and Katie arrive over the finish line before heading off to seek out our after race grub put on by ‘Make a Wish’ which consisted of the best jackets spuds, cup of tea & bag of Mini Eggs EVER!!!!! So in a nutshell…..although I was very unprepared for my first half marathon I’m so pleased I went ahead and ran the INAUGURAL LLHM. More than once during the last two miles I know I said aloud “NEVER AGAIN” but…..yep you’ve guessed – I pre registered for next years event plus I’ve signed up for the GNR! Now to train for a PB. I’d highly recommend the LLMH to anyone who’s thinking of signing up for next year and would also like to say ‘Make a Wish Foundation’ were a wonderful charity to be running for.