I awake before my alarm. The muscles in my legs flick with nerves and the sun is shining.
Kitting up, I force a thick porridge down and head for the tube. My local station lady spots me coming and swings the gate open for me. “‘Ere you go, Love.” We get free travel today.
I walk the escalator - just walk, Chris, don’t get excited - and meet a toddlers’ wide eyed stare. ”Is he doing the marathon, mummy?”
I blush - It’s the bits I don’t think about beforehand that make me blush, like feeling a fool for travelling on the tube in my running gear. - ”Good luck,” the Mum says and I feel the first twist in my gut - a thick rope twists deep inside me.
I take a seat on the train. No music plays in my ears today. Instead, I sit silently looking out of the window. We near Greenwich and the train empties as crowds head for cheering points. The remaining passengers are numbered. Fellow runners; all silent, all quiet.
Arriving at Greenwich, we make our way to the start line. Thousands flow through the streets but, eerily, everything seems silent. Even inside my usually noisy mind there’s a braced quiet.
We enter Greenwich Park things get noisy fast. Music, cheers, excitement, friends and family waving their loved ones Good Luck. Thousands are already lined up, raring to go, as the loudspeaker blares, “Three minutes to go!” - Fuck! Better get a move on!
Spun with nerves, my bladder decides it needs a wee. So, I hot-foot it to the urinals and stand shoulder to shoulder with a dozen others trembling with nerves.
I dump my gear and head for the starting pen. A thousand bodies face forward, legs twitching.
A whistle sounds and silence falls - a 30 second silence for the victims of the Boston bombing. One poor guy mistakes the whistle for the start of the race and releases a thunderous warriors’ cry among the silence. He falls silent like the rest.
The silence ends. Here we go…
Or not. The start of the marathon is a bit of an anti-climax. There are so many runners that, for half an hour, you slowly shuffle towards the start at a snails pace. There isn’t really a starting gun for the marathon - your own personal timer starts when you cross the line - so, in effect, if you think about it, in the digital world, little starting pistols are firing thousands of times in that half hour as each runner begins.
I continue to shuffle along. A shiver of adrenaline runs down my back. I cross the line and I’m off.
I made a decision that morning that I would put away my headphones and timer. I was going to go as fast, or as slow, as my body liked and just enjoy myself. And that’s exactly what I did. It mean’t I took over 5 hours, but what a 5 hours!
You expect to be tired. You expect it to be physically draining. What you really don’t expect is just how emotional it will be. I have no shame in admitting that the rope twisting in my gut at every sign of kindness shown towards me that day resulted in a torrent of tears - both during and after the race.
The reasons why I will keep to myself, but, if you are ever tempted to run the marathon I cannot recommend it enough.
A big Thank You to all who donated towards my run. It’s because of your generosity that I had this opportunity. I’m very grateful.
My total finished at £2799.00, which is a thousand pounds above my target. That really is amazing.
As you will all know, I ran for the Terrence Higgins Trust and they recently totalled up their London Marathon donations and they raised a massive £45,247!!! That really is an astounding amount of money to make in one day and I am sure it will make a huge difference to their work.
I thank you, again.