I was a mix of complete nerves and excitement. Those who read my blog will have read my journey. Self doubt along the way, my body showing me we are strong. I was just so happy to have the miles in my legs to fulfil my gold bond commitment to Brathay. A Different story to last year when I had to pull out due to injury.
I did have a panic when I lost the registration letter which you have to take with you to get your race number. I checked online and if you went to the help desk with ID then would print a replacement one.
When I arrived at Excel, I stopped to have a photo taken and just welled up.
Just got a bit overwhelming that I was here. I guess I’m testament to you can achieve, I’d hardly run and 16 weeks of training I was here. Scared, excited, nervous of the run ahead but I was here and was going to give it my best shot. More tears when Louise and Simon met us. I had planned to run with Lou last year. After I pulled out, she hurt her back and had to pull out too, silver lining was that we could run together this year.
Numbers collected and a walk around the expo. We Couldn’t resist a photo with Chewbaca!
Louise had organised a mini bus up to the start. A Last minute check, did I have everything, yes let’s go. Nerves rushing around my body at the anticipation of the run ahead. The weather was cold but perfect for running. I was glad of Robbie’s hoodie to wear as I had forgotten to bring something. Louise and I were at different starts so we had a coffee to warm up before we made our ways to our respective starts.
A friend of Lou’s Rachel was doing her first marathon and looking after her as we made our way to the red start helped settled my nerves. After about 100 loo stops I was ready to head to my pen and get ready to start. The weather was warming up. The marathon has 3 starts due to the volume of people running and comes back together at mile 3. Mile 3 was mine and Lou’s rendezvous. It took me 24 minutes to get across the line, it only took Lou 8 minutes. Whilst she was at mile 3 I was picking my way through runners at mile 1. Soon we were reunited and off we went.
The next milestone was seeing family on Tower Bridge. When I have run in previous years I’ve had my headphones in but this year because I really wanted to soak it up, so I didn’t wear them. The atmosphere is just out of this world, it almost feels a bit surreal at times.
I was getting excited as we went past mile 12 and we were nearly on tower bridge. It’s so emotional running across this iconic bridge, you’re nearly halfway through the marathon and the cheers almost deafen you. Lou and I held hands as we both looked at each other with tears in our eyes. It’s such a boost seeing family, lots of hugs a refuel and off we went. Next meet was with Matthew and Amanda at 30km.
My calf started cramping between mile 17/18, alarm bells and panic went off in my head, damn you body. Louise was just brilliant, just keep going, lets just slow the pace down. We are into single figures now. One foot in front of the other, I was so conscious of slowing Louise down as she had trained so hard and could’ve run much faster. After constantly apologizing for a mile, she said if you say sorry one more time, so I didn’t. Sweaty hugs at 30km with Amanda and Matthew and refuelled with Jelly babies, next meet was at 40km with family. My leg was agony but just keep going. The miles seems to tick away quite nicely. Unspoken words as Lou looked at me with a reassuring look we can do this.
Mile 23 was an unexpected surprise when I saw friends Hayley and Karen, seeing friends and family is such a boost. Seeing them when I was feeling so tired really buoyed me on, willing those miles to come quicker.
It is so hard looking for family and friends in the sea of faces, it is a bit like where’s wally! Mile 25 and I was seriously tired, where is the 40km marker and my family. Seeing Dave, Jake and Keiron was the final push I needed for the last mile. No better sight than the finish line, dig deep and lets do this.
As we crossed the line, tears in our eyes and fell into each others arms.
We had finished, all those doubts whether I could do this were replaced with endorphins and bragging rights that I had just run a marathon. No better feeling that getting that bling and sharing that moment with Lou. That memory will stay with me forever. Not my best time but I am so over the moon with a respectable 5:02.
This was my 4th London marathon and my favorite one. I couldn’t have done it without Lou by my side. Just being there when I was in agony and encouraging me to keep going, words can’t describe how grateful I was. It was nice running with someone and without my headphones in, the atmosphere is just out of this world. Hearing people from start to finish shouting your name. Though Lou did note that I was getting a lot of shout outs due to my ample chest! As it was usually accompanied with “whooa looking good there Gina” from alot of men. Once we noticed this was happening couldn’t stop laughing. Lou is booked in for a boob job before we run together again.
This marathon has taught me to accept setbacks, they are inevitable and help you develop coping mechanisms for when things go wrong. It is so easy to compare yourself to other, I am so guilty of this, but I am trying to not judge myself against others as it is my journey not theirs.
Post marathon, I have had lots of moments of biting my tongue dealing with peoples responses in person and online. The comments vary from asking what was my time (5:02 hours) oh my friend ran it in sub 3, is that a good time? I suppose for your age and size that is a good time? I guess people like to measure my achievements against theirs to put themselves in a scale to feel better about themselves. Whether you are training for a sub 3 or 7 hour marathon the training is hard for everyone regardless of finish time. It is a huge commitment to decide to run a marathon.
I have been blown away by people’s generosity towards my fundraising for Brathay. I have so far have raised over £4500 plus gift aid, if you want to support me Check out my JustGiving Page for Brathay Trust. Help me raise more! http://www.justgiving.com/Gina-Pennington3?utm_id=26
Pain is temporary finishing is forever.