The weekend started as we left home at 10:45am, heading to Brighton with a stop at Nymnan's National Trust garden for a spot of lunch and a brief stroll to admire the magnolias & rhododendrons.
The main reason I wanted to go to the Expo was to find the Rock Tape stand & turns out it was worth the traffic, as after a ten minute wait i had my shins taped up by a lovely lady & even better - she had purple tape!
So onto the day itself. I got up & sorted my self out, enjoying a peanut butter & banana wholemeal sandwich for breakfast, taping each of my toes up with extra long Elastoplast plasters & smothering my face & arms in sun tan lotion. David dropped Mum & I off a street above Preston Park and we wandered into the park just after half 7. We had no trouble in getting there at all. The Park slowly started to fill up & i too heed of the advice that i had picked up from various places, including the Runners World Forum, of keeping off of your feet if you can.
When i got to my Grandparent's on Saturday i found a little good luck charm, made my Nan with my sponsorship money, so i decided i would give him a piggy back all the way around.
The start appeared to run very smoothly - nothing like the half hour delays I'd heard of for 2010 because within 14 minutes (according to my chip time) i was across the start line & my 1st marathon had begun!
I felt quite good at the start, made sure not to get caught up & carried away at too fast of a pace, running the first mile in about 10 minutes and the 2nd in about the same. By mile 3 i had caught up with the 5 hour pacer, Robin (they had official Pacers from Clif Bar) and decided that i would stick with her and her gang, and push on later if i was able. Initially i was hoping to get under 5 hours, but after a comfortable 11 miles i started to feel pain and not where i first expecting to feel it. My main worry coming into this was my shins, I'd struggled so much since i started training & even in the last few classes & runs but for the whole 26.2 miles i honestly didn't feel a thing! I think i will certainly be trying the Rocktape again! I have heard through other who ran on Saturday & used the tape that they were pleased with the results from it too.
Any way back to mile 12 & the pain in my right foot. Every time it hit the pavement the pain level soared, i slowed to a walk by the water station which eased the pain & as much as i felt like i wanted to stop, deep down i knew i couldn't & wouldn't. My longest training run was 9 miles, so i kind of knew after that point that anything could happen. My next goal was mile 15, where my support team (Mum, David & Nan) were - only 3 miles away. I ran through the half way point which i was rather glad to see even if i had lost sight of Robin and her balloons and from there to the bottom of Grand Avenue (mile 15) developed a run/walk strategy of no particular time pattern. I was trying to walk a minute then run as much as i could but the running times got shorter & shorter i think. Knowing my family was at the top of Grand Avenue, i was determined for them to see me running, so i made sure i ran from the bottom to the top, fighting back the tears & grabbing Mum for a hug, muttering an expletive in her ear about the pain before getting on with the job in hand. I have heard since from a runner's world member that all she wanted was her mummy around that point - and she's 51 yrs old! Its not a very flattering photo but this certainly shows a very unhappy face.
As we reached the last couple of mile Sharon said she wouldn't be offended if we walked a faster finish and pushed on for the finish, which is what i did. With about a mile to go, i decided i wanted under 5 hours 30 and picked up the pace & amazing felt stronger than ever - its all in the mind. As i reached about 400m i heard "Jennifer!" so i turned to look.....
From there i collected my medal, avoided the blankets (i felt i was far too hot for that personally), got my timing chip taken off, was handed a goody bag (nothing hugely exciting in there, although the andrex wipes came in handy as my face was so salty!) & a t-shirt before collecting my kit bag & heading for the Charity tent.
The charity tent (again although nothing hugely exciting) was at least a seat for us all & some shade plus it meant i could meet my support team without crowds. First job was to take my shoes off & get some air to my feet, then i got changed into my swimming shorts/costume behind a spare space blanket and we headed for the beach. The water was icy but quite nice on the burning feet, i didn't feel like my legs needed it at the time, but a couple of days later now i think i should have been braver and gone a little deeper, but i really hate swimming in water where i can't see what is around me in the water. I munched on my bread pudding, from the bakery that i had waiting for me in my kit bag. I would like to say i enjoyed it, but i think i just ate without thought. I'd already devoured the banana they gave us by that point and the Clif Bar in the goody bag didn't last very long either.
The sea was great until a wave caught me off balance and i lost grip of my flips flops with me feet! i thought they were lost forever - like i say i don't feel confident venturing too deep in the sea even though i know I'm a strong swimmer - but they floated back just within my reach. Which i was very glad about, because the pebbles were rather painful on feet that were already very bruised.
Even as we were leaving the beach though some people were still finishing, mainly those in costumes or carrying something, like a tiger....
Thank you all for your sponsorship. As i write this now i have raised a total of £2024.60 which is something i never thought possible. I am taking a walk into town today to pay in a cheque i didn't get a chance to before the day, and I'm hoping the stroll will loosen me up. A trip to the gym is in order too, although only to use the Power plate for a massage & if i can take the pain, roll my muscles out on the foam roller.
The only question now is do i sign up for next year? I might leave it a while before i decide yet, there's still a bit of time.