What can I say, an experience of a lifetime I wouldn’t have missed it – I hated the training  but it was worth every frostbitten finger.   The day started at 7.30am with David walking me to the Red Start and then I was on my own amongst thousands of other madmen.

Through the red gate we were in a fenced compound the atmosphere was quiet, yet jolly and of course full of anticipation. The fancy dresses were being donned, and fresh make up applied (that was mainly the chaps).

There were TV cameras picking out the eccentrics and music to jolly us along.  Tea, coffee and water readily available and of course rows of toilets – as promised – I don’t think the toilet paper ran out either!  On that note there were urinals for both men and women but not mixed! (other femail competitors had an “appliance” in their packs – I didn’t receive one so couldn’t venture into the femail urinal – thank goodness!)

Everyone  packed their belongings into red sacks which were loaded onto the fleet of lorries and we all made our way to the start.  I had a nine on the bottom of my number which meant I was at the back with the fancy dress people.  I’d put an anticipated time of 5.30hrs on my entry form so obviously the faster times are at the front – but I did pass some of them near the end.

The gun went off and the months of preparation had come to an end, yet we weren’t moving, we could see the big screen through the trees and Red Start runners were streaming through the gates, but we weren’t moving.   Gradually, we edged forward and 21 minutes after the gun, my group reached the start line.  It doesn’t really matter as we all carry individual electronic tags so each individual’s time is recorded regardless.

Hats off to the Rhinos though, those people must be very fit to keep the pace up especially as it gets hotter, watching all the people in fancy dress was inspirational and often amusing.

I had a wonderful support team of 10, David(husband), James (son), Alice(soon to be daughter-in-law), Rupert(step son), Christian(son), Andrew(godson, G’s brother), Jonny(son), Anne(G’s Mum & my school friend), Mark(G’s boyfriend) and of course Georgina(goddaughter) who got me into this by running last year.

This group followed me round and popped up like Meerkats in many unexpected places which meant I had to keep running in case they were round the next bend.  Of course, it was only polite to pause and say hello.

Turning right over Tower Bridge (12-13miles) and heading east while all the fast runners were heading back on the opposite carriageway, was quite a mental hurdle, I perked in mile 14 and was fine after that.  Mile 19 was another hurdle as that was the furthest I’d run in training and I had been in a state of collapse by the end of that run.  I know I slowed around the 19 mile mark as my Garmin XT10 had been bleeping on every mile. I felt hesitant as I was now entering new territory of the unknown last 7miles, it was purely in the mind as when I checked the extremities and the breathing, I was fine.

The Garmin was great but it is very accurate and because I’d been taking advice and running in the shadow of buildings where possible, (so not following the blue marathon line on the road)  I’d already clocked up a quarter of a mile extra – which was slightly depressing and as the miles were chewed up, often just off the blue line, the further I seemed to move “off piste” and lengthen the run. Believe me, every step counts near the end.

It’s true what everyone says about the day, the crowds, bands and atmosphere are extraordinary, when you are running you are either reading the back s of competitors T-shirts or trying to focus on a sea of faces.  (A word of advice for the 5hr+ runners – run in the middle of the road outside the pubs as everyone is very jolly at lunchtime and some revellers step out to cheer you on – all good fun though).  The Tenko drummers under the flyover were a real boost as I could hear them over my iPod Shuffle which was on full blast the whole time providing a mixture of Dance and Ibiza beach music.

Talking of the Shuffle, it was that which boosted me to run a bit faster in the last few miles as a voice cut in over the blaring music to tell me my battery was low – I can’t run without “sounds” so I sped up (a little).

I’d been careful not to overdo it.  Massimo had told me to take it easy keep a regular pace – people were dropping like flies, stopping to stretch or being stretchered.  As it was hot, I had been sipping water and taking Lucozade gels every half hour after the two hour mark and I felt fine, none of the disorientation and faintness that I’d had on the training runs, so at mile 23 I threw the water away, told myself I was going out for my local jog and pushed on.

What a feeling when you cross that line, I was so buoyant that I kept running till I got the timing tag removal team and then marched off to the  lorries to collect my red sack.  I phoned the Meerkats and they’d been stuck on a pedestrian island waiting for me to run by and were stunned I’d already finished, so I set off for the Charring Cross hotel where CLDF were hosting the reception for the runners and I’d had two mugs of hot tea, provided by Rachel, before the gang arrived.

I was so pleased to see them, although you are surrounded by thousands of friendly runners, everyone is doing their thing and in parts it’s quite a solitary experience especially towards the end when it’s all about your finishing time.

The question is now, would I do it again?

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The Children’s Liver Disease Foundation are very grateful for your support via JUST GIVING

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