We all woke up early - well apart from Blue Bear who was glued to his pillow until the last minute and yet woke up fresh as a daisy and raring to go. Brown Bear has always been an early riser so he had eaten breakfast and got dressed already. I prepared my kit and bags the night before so I only had to shower and get dressed. I packed warm clothes for afterwards, a towel, Fit Flops, lots of energy bars, water, painkillers and plasters. Hubbie got the boys ready to come and support me and we set off for Hyde Park.
As we made our way to the Macmillan marquee it started to pour with rain. It had been forecast, but I had hoped it wasn't going to happen. Thankfully it stopped as I made my way to the start. Hubbie took the boys to spend the time at the Science Museum, but he was also able to follow me on a tracker app that told him exactly where I was at any time. I set my watch to track the run and took off slowly along a track in Hyde Park that is familiar to me from so many 5k runs in the past.
The route is lined with cheering supporters and it is their encouragement that makes it possible to keep going. As I ran round St James' Park it reminded me of so many lunchtime runs with Soraya and the chats we would have. I felt my face stiffen as I tried to stop tears falling. Then I spotted the fountains where we used to stop and walk a bit and a sign that said 3 miles. It made me smile and I decided not to feel sad about losing her, but to remember the love and friendship we shared. That was literally the only wobble I had. I smiled pretty much the whole way round. People called out, "Keep going Swazi.," "You're doing so well," "Well done Macmillan."
Quite early on I felt severe cramp in my left foot and started to panic that I would have to stop. On Whitehall I leaned against a lamp post to stretch out my foot and a passing runner tapped my shoulder and said, 'keep going' - I did. I took on water at the next water stop (if you're a runner you don't drink, you 'take on water') and felt the cramp ease off. I kept going and it started to feel better, so I found my pace as I ran along the strand. There were well wishers cheering and children holding out their hands for 'high fives' which I did as often as I could.
A few miles in I was feeling the pace and took short walks as and when needed. The Macmillan supporters - and to be fair all other charities too - were amazing. As there were kind folks holding out jelly babies on the route I took a couple and the sugar hit certainly helped me keep going when I felt my legs weaken. At the halfway point the realisation hit me that I had the same again to do. Ok then, let's keep going. The volunteers at the Macmillan water point gave me a huge cheer as I went past and that was such a boost.
The weather was pretty grim, but I didn't mind as some of my training runs had been in downpours so I was used to it and I don't mind getting wet while running. It helps cool down actually. I'm glad I didn't have to run the whole way soaked through. It was grey and drizzly most of the way round then the rain really came down after the ten mile mark. My glasses were useless so I pushed them onto the top of my head and kept going. With just under 2 miles to go I stepped in a puddle (I had successfully avoided doing this so far so it wasn't too disastrous). With a wet foot and no glasses I sent a text to Hubbie to say I was nearly there. It's ok my phone was in a plastic bag - I came prepared for all weathers !
Seeing my boys and Hubbie at Princes Gate (just under a km from the finish line) lifted my spirits so much. The boys ran alongside me on the pavement calling out,
"You can do it Mummy, keep going, 800m left, only 400m left. Come on Mummy you can do it. Just 200m to go ! You did it - well done Mummy."
The leg massage at the end helped a lot. It wasn't until I stopped that I realised how tired I was. Also I was ravenous. I can't eat when I'm nervous so I hadn't eaten at all (apart from medicinal jelly babies of course). Macmillan kindly catered for their runners so I had a sandwich, a bag of crisps and some tea. It barely hit the sides.
When I got home I had some practical things to do for work the next day then I had a hot soak and a glass of prosecco to celebrate. I had done it. After all the hard work of training and the mental preparation to get this done it was over. I've not entirely processed what I did. There are people who do this sort of thing all the time. For me this was a really challenging event. I pushed myself and even on the day I had no idea if I could do it. I'm so grateful to everyone who supported me and wished me well.
I'm having a break from running for a while now. Physio has told me to take at least 2-3 weeks off. I'll go back to swimming and yoga. The stretching and relaxing stuff.
Then Hubbie reminded me that we've signed up to do the Hampton Court half marathon in March. Flippin' 'eck !!