Congratulations to Carol who completed the London Marathon last month and raised over £1,150 for Destiny Garden School. Donations are still being received and if you would like to donate please see Carol’s previous news article.
“It was a cold morning on Sunday 26 April as I caught the number 54 to Blackheath, so I boarded the bus shivering in my shorts only to be told that buses, unlike all other London Transport, were not free. Never mind I thought getting out some money. The sour faced driver just looked at me and tapped the Oyster card sign …. oh! I just stood there dumfounded imagining that I might be faced with running 10 mile before the race even started. I was just about to disembark when a very kind gentleman lent me his card to pay with. What a lovely gesture and what a nice start to my day. I sat down and got chatting to two young girls who were also running. We walked up to the race area together, chatting, laughing and cheering each other on until we went our separate ways… they went to Red start and I went to my Blue area on my own.
The feeling of camaraderie was wonderful. I met such lovely people; in the queue for the loos, at the baggage drop off, (including a girl who gave me one of her bin liners to go under my plastic mac because I was shivering) and at the start line. It was warmer once we were all huddled together, so as the barriers straps lifted and we began walking towards the start line, we plucked up the courage to throw off our plastic layers, revealing our sleeveless vests and shorts. We soon warmed up and the dull sky made for perfect running weather.
The first 6 mile or so are quite frustrating as there are so many runners that you can’t run at your pace. I felt that I was not running to my full potential. You’re running with various animals, superman, a Buxton water bottle, and brides and fairies of both sex so it’s quite entertaining and huge credit to those who are brave enough to run in costume. Not long after that it started to thin out so I could go for it.
I spent the first 18 miles just beaming, amazed at all the iconic sights of London. And the crowd… well what can I say? It is not an exaggeration to say that they are amazing! They clap, they cheer and they shout your name as if you are Paula or Wilson. They hand runners sweets, oranges, bananas and drinks. I was more than grateful for the jelly babies and Starbursts which I scooped from outstretched hands!
The organisation was brilliant too with plenty of drinks stations offering water, Lucozade and gels. Occasionally there were people offering Vaseline for those with sore bits but I was fortunate enough not to need it (I had put it on my feet and between my toes beforehand to alleviate friction). It’s usually the men that need it the most.
Part way round I saw a man in a familiar yellow and black Congleton Harrier vest so I said hello as we ran along before we both went back to our own pace – all that way only to see someone from my own town!
After 20 miles when my head went down a bit I was spurred on by people shouting my name and telling me that it wasn’t much further. Various parties playing loud music along the way also helped to keep my legs moving. At 23 miles, I can’t pretend it wasn’t tough, especially when I saw people stopping and walking… it was so tempting! All I can say is that, at that stage, it’s not just stamina, it’s sheer willpower and mind over matter.
It was also the thought that my daughters, Sophia and Ellie, and my friend Penny and her daughter Georgia were waiting to wave me on at the 25 mile mark that kept me heading towards the next balloon arched mile marker. When I saw them it was just wonderful as their faces lit up in recognition as I ran towards them. I would love to have stopped to hug them all but I knew that I was going well and if I did stop, I might not get back into my pace. I was also aware of passing the 3:30 pacers a while back so I knew that I had exceeded my expectations. I wasn’t going to let that slip and if anything I picked up pace especially after seeing the guys from my running club in Biddulph, who gave me an almighty cheer.
Seeing the 800m mark was wonderful but from my girls doing athletics I know it’s still a fair way. Then the 400m mark… nearly there. Around that point I heard a voice behind me saying “Carol” … It was the lovely Rachael from my club. She’s done so well too and we exchanged a “well done”. Then I looked ahead to the finish line and the clock. I could see the time and by then I knew that I wanted to come in sub 3:30. A man just ahead of me had turned round, running backwards urging his friend to keep going. I smiled at him, “we’re going to break 3:30” I said. “Easily” he shouted laughing. With that I dug deep and hurled myself towards the finish. What a great feeling! As I walked forward I picked up my London commemorative blue T-shirt and was handed my medal with a “well done Carol” as if I had won the race. I suppose everyone who crossed the finish line yesterday has won their own race. Though total strangers, we all congratulated each other on our run. We were told to keep moving but I looked behind and saw Rachael. We just walked along with our arms around each other until we went to separate trucks to collect our numbered red bags. Once I was re-united with my phone, I rang the girls. Amazingly they had been able to track my progress all the way round and told me that I had done it in 3:26:30. I came 32nd in my category so I was very pleased and also very grateful to everyone who supported me.
I’m hurting today but was very proud to have once again worn my Destiny Children vest and to raise money for such a great cause. I am very happy that the children will benefit from the money raised. I also like to think that my run will show that with hard work you can achieve anything at any age.