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Claire Hobson only started training at Christmas but nothing was going to stop her collecting that London Marathon medal

‘Insane’, ‘crazy’, ‘lunatic’… just some of the words friends and family have lovingly called me over the last few months when talking about me running London, even though this was my third time running London and my 12th marathon! However, my youngest child only turns six months this week, so I can kind of see where they are coming from!

My training started later than most. After giving birth via c-section, I couldn’t properly start training until Christmas, and had to start off slowly. Frustrating to say the least, from someone who had missed running and was desperate to get back to the same pace as before!

I had to squeeze training in when and where I could, including starting gym classes that took place at 6:30am just to maximise my training! Thankfully, both my kids sleep through the night, so lack of sleep was not a problem.

I had a few good training runs, including a great half marathon at the London Landmarks Half Marathon at the end of March, where I came in at 1:56. Not my fastest half and nowhere near my PB, but a great start on my return to running. And my pacing was fairly consistent. I also had a few great Interval sessions on a Tuesday night with the club that helped push me.

I then had a horrendous training run two weeks before the London Marathon. A solo attempt at 17miles where I had to call the Hubster to come get me after 15 miles. I did not eat enough for breakfast and took on gels too late. I didn’t just hit the wall, I went head first into it. It was raining, I felt weak and faint and so annoyed at myself. But I had to brush it off and focus on the big day.

The build up to the Marathon in the media was hard. All the talk of how hot it was going to be did not help the nerves! The few days before, as well as carb loading, I upped my hydration in preparation for Sunday.

Then the day was here! As I boarded the coach with the SJs, my nerves were high. Luckily the banter and the company on the bus helped eased the nerves a bit and before I knew it, we were at the start. The atmosphere at the Red Start was fairly relaxed, I chatted with Sharon, Sacha, Emma and Danish before we all headed off to our zones. It was quite nice dropping bags off earlier as we certainly didn’t need to keep warm! The temperature at 9am was already starting to get hot.

Pre race

The first few miles were comfortable. I tried to keep my pace slow and steady as knew we were in for a hot few hours. By mile 9, my Crohns was starting to protest slightly but I persevered! It was lovely to see some SJ faces so early on (thank you Donna Cooper, Fiona Slevin-Brown and Paula Vine for the cheers). The heat then started to really hit. I took water at every other water station and followed the ‘drink, douse, drain’ advice. I also ran through every single shower unit (including the Firefighters water stations)

I saw my husband, sister and my two boys at 12.5 miles, where my husband proceeded to tell me I was too dry and had to run through the showers more! He didn’t realise just how hot it was out there, I was dry within a mile after running through the showers!

By 19 miles, I was ready to quit. Due to my Crohns protesting more, I had to stop for the toilet a few times (sorry for the overshare) and the heat was getting to me. I went to a very dark place and very nearly just stopped. But something inside made me carry on. All along the course, runners were collapsing or receiving medical help. People were constantly walking, it was brutal out there.

When I saw my family again at 23 miles, I could have cried! My eldest (who is 3) started to cry as he wanted to come with me, which broke my heart. He always likes playing with the medals I get, so I knew what I had to do to cheer him up – I had to finish. Run, walk, crawl……I was going to get that medal.

Half a mile later, I saw a friend who was working the Lucozade stand. She hugged me and just said to me ‘it’s just a parkrun left, just a park run’… and that got me to the end. The crowds were AMAZING, the whole way round, but along the Embankment they really helped me. I was grateful for having my name on my shirt! I then saw Jim Laidlaw who gave me a big cheer as I entered Birdcage Walk and I knew the end was so close.

Claire London Eye

As I crossed that line, the relief was immense! Bitterly disappointed in my time, but knew it would never be a PB day for me. I think I fell onto Jackie Kent, who then walked me to the medal hangers, with hugs from a few SJ’s on the way. The lovely Tracy Buck put my medal round my neck and then there were more hugs from other SJ’s, which was amazing and made it all so worthwhile!

When I made my way to get my kit bag, I started to feel horrendous. Just as I was about to walk into Horse Guards Parade, I came over very ill, thankfully just as Sacha Kendall-Woods saw me. I dropped to the ground and couldn’t talk or walk properly. St John’s came to the rescue, bundled me onto a wheelchair and took me to the treatment tent. The whole time, Sacha did not leave my side, waiting with me until my Husband came to me and fielded calls from my sister and husband as my battery had died! She was amazing! Luckily, it was only a bit of heat exhaustion and soon I felt right as rain again. It was wonderful to then see the Robinson’s on the train on the way home.

Claire & baby

I know I have said this before, but it was BRUTAL out there. The heat was insane, but the atmosphere and crowds were insanely amazing! The support from everyone was fantastic and the SJ’s en route and at the end made me so grateful to be part of such an amazing club!

Will I do London again? Probably!

Will I do another Marathon? Errrm… yes! Training is now being upped for the run I am doing in memory of my Mum at the end of August (Ascot to Rochester and back in 4 days – over a marathon a day!) and then Berlin Marathon 2 weeks later!, where I hope to get a PB.

Huge huge well done to all the SJ’s – runners, marshals and supporters – for Sunday. Everyone is amazing and all the runners were superstar champions for finishing in such tough conditions!

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