Tuesday, 5 May 2015

It's been emotional.....

It's been emotional.....

My legs are back to normal but my body and mind have given up, I'm on that marathon low - feeling down and blue so I thought I'd write about my experience. 

The support and good luck messages started the week before we set off for London - meeting with friends, cards arriving and my phone pinging every other minute. I felt as though I was emigrating and never going to see see people again. It was a lovely feeling that so many people cared. 

With my bags packed and ready we took Benji to school before heading to Paragon Station on Friday morning and he shouted 'Good luck mummy, you can do it!' from his queue to get into class, It brought a lump to my throat. I bless the day that I started the life changing journey that enabled me to get healthy so I was able to play and be active with him in his life as well as be his mummy. I enjoy every moment with him. Benji is of an age now that he is able to and enjoys running some distances with me and will often come and do a 2-3 mile run. He really is my world and he had such faith in me bless his heart. 

With our goodbyes said, a relaxing journey to London followed catching up on messages,emails and post. 

We arrived at the the Royal Garden Hotel Kensington which was absolutely stunning and unpacked before we headed back out and over to ExCel to collect my ever important marathon number. When I got my number it would mean it was official - I really was running VLM. I think it was only at that moment of holding my number 7207 in my hand it seamed real. What had I done? Had I trained hard enough? Would my legs see me through? Would my lungs see me through? I knew my heart would but..... oh boy!

After collecting my number we entered the Adidas boost tunnel which led to the start of what was an enormous exhibition. It was colossal. Company after company trying to sell their wares - sunglasses, gels, trainers, hats, running attire, treadmills, beetroot juice. If you named it and it had to do with running fitness it was there.
Then there were the charity stands. I caught my breath as we walked past the BHF stand, hearts upon hearts with loved ones names on dedicating their race, time and effort to people they held dear. 

A lazy day on Saturday ensued, with me fussing around getting my kit together and taking my now traditional pre race kit photo.  Pre race day for most runners is a pasta night and I was no different. We found a lovely Spaghetti House directly opposite the hotel and early to bed for what was going to be the biggest race day of my life. 

A 6am start on Sunday for shower, brekkie and everything else that needed to be done before planning to leave the hotel at 7:30. Oh boy my stomach was doing somersaults already - it was going to be a looooong day. 

You get free transport in London if you possess one of the all treasured race numbers. Ray travelled with me to Victoria Station where we said our goodbyes as I transferred from underground to overground for the journey over to Blackheath and he headed back to the hotel. It was a tough goodbye that left me empty and lonely - a feeling I'm not really used too but emotions were playing their hand as they always did on the lead up too and including race day. Boarding the train at Victoria brought tears to my eyes and not just from those emotions. The smell of deep heat and others lotions on the train would bring tears to anybodies eyes  - it was so strong!  We all sat in silent respect for the journey we were taking. It was quite eerie. 

With drizzly rain, Blackheath was just a sea of people trying to keep warm and dry under any shelter they could. The start area was cordoned off and I remember the first song I heard blaring out of all the speakers was Gnarls Barkley's, 'I think your crazy'. Oh how apt!!!  I found a chair under a repertory coffee shop marquee and killed a bit of time before queueing at the toilets for the always needed 'pressure wee!' By this time luckily the rain had stopped and it looked as though it was going to be ideal running weather. Cool, not too hot and cloudy. 

The big screens around the start area showed us the wheelchair athletes and the women's elite starting and  before we knew it it was our turn. We were on our way, everyone wishing each other a good run to the bleeps of GP running watches and we were off!!  I knew it wouldn't be my fastest run but run it was going to be. I planned starting on 11:30 minute miles as I would surely drop in my 2nd half. 

It wasn't really long before that overwhelming feeling of loneliness kicked in! You spend months training, most of it was with friends either running the whole or part distance with you with friends or family often on a bike being waterboy or girl and here I was all of a sudden thrown into a scenario of running 5+ hours - on my own - with 34,000 other people!! Why did I feel lonely!? 

I couldn't  snap out of the mind-set I'd gotten into no matter how I tried. The blue line of the marathon route that is painted on the road became my friend. I looked for it on the road and followed it, sometimes disappearing to all of a sudden appear again. That blue line suddenly had become my training buddy, my Fitmums family, my water boy and my support crew!

Mentally I started going downhill at about mile 9. It couldn't have been 'the wall' because I'd fuelled up properly - it was my emotions and my mind had got a grip and just wouldn't let go.  My foot felt as though it had a blister the length of it and I had cramp in my 2nd toe - why? My trainers were comfy, my socks were right, I think I must've stood on a stone at some point or caught it somehow because when I'd finished there wasn't a blister in sight. I remember about mile 11 seeing a lady running over to her screaming family giving them all hugs and feeling insanely jealous that it wasn't me greeting my family. "Ellie get a grip!" was all I kept saying to myself. How many times had I been out for long runs?! 

Ray rang and tried to talk to me bless him but I was in a bad bad place, He explained where he was standing so I'd see him at mile 14, hopefully by which point I'd have sorted my head out! - I hadn't!  I literally fell into his arms sobbing.  Everything hurt, my head, my heart, my feet, my legs and my ego.  I stopped for a couple of minutes and had a pep talk with him, I took some painkillers and he sent me on my way with ever ounce of encouragement, love and strength he had and boy did I need it. 

I had phone call after phone call from my friends and my gorgeous family ringing and encouraging me, they knew I was battling and they were trying so desperately to help me out of the place I was in. 

The next 4 or 5 miles were steady away. My pace had slowed considerably but I was still running -  just.  But my heart was breaking - every time I thought of someone something random would happen: 

Every time I thought of Ellie and Rory I would run past an MNDA cheering point or someone would run past me with an MNDA running top on. 

Frankie crept into my mind and I instantly saw Juvenile Diabetes, not Diabetes UK it was specific!

My good friend and running buddy Bev rang me a couple of times bless her and she works for McMillan, why was there a sea of green McMillan t-shirts just before she rang?

Then Poppy came to mind and in a sea of people - and I'm talking crowds of people 10 deep on the roadside, on a cool, now completely dry day there was a lady stood with a huge umbrella up. An umbrella covered in poppies!!

At the beginning of the race whilst I was sat under the gazebo, I'd set my iPod up to play my running album and at one point I needed a bit of entertainment so pressed my headphones to start playing. Why, oh why, oh why had it completely bypassed my running album and jumped to a random album on my iPod and was actually playing one of my dads all time favorite songs - "I'm Just a Country Boy" by Don Williams?!?! 

It was the last straw. At this point I was sobbing almost uncontrollably. I was wasting much needed energy on my emotions but then it struck me that someone, somewhere was telling me that everyone was there for me - it had taken nearly 10 miles but it was the turning point I needed. 
I thanked Dad.....and Charlotte.....and Abbie, Gramps, Ken and everyone else up there for being with me, I wasn't alone at all. I had a sea of people around me and more importantly above me pushing me to the end. Between them and my phone calls I'd been taken out of my 10 mile hell. 

I saw Ray again at 21 miles but this time with a smile on my face and a determination that would knock anyone over. My frame of mind was back. This race needed finishing and I needed it in the bag. I was ready to give the last five miles my all. I gave him a quick kiss and the biggest hug I could muster and off I went. 

The last phone call I got was from my mum at 25 miles.  I cried when she rang, I was hurting so much but she took all the pain away just by telling me how proud she was of me. 

The London marathon is something to behold and some of the other memories I will take with me are..... 

I have to say without doubt the crowds stood out to me as the biggest memory. All through London they were phenomenal, sometimes you just needed your own space and at those points it was a little over bearing but they were awesome nonetheless and certainly got me through the miles. 

but some other memories that are etched in my mind..... 

The organisation and the marshals were outstanding. 
Playing cat and mouse with Rory the Rhino. 
The Shard. 
The Cutty Sark. 
The ostrich that I overtook because he was having his photo taken with some friends in the crowd - only to overtake me again to show he actually had much nicer legs than me!.  
The wheelchair athlete struggling to get up the hill. 
The man sat by the roadside sorting out his blisters. 
The Isle of dogs. 
The 70+ year old lady running looking at the floor constantly because of her deformed spine. 
The lady at 26 miles having to stop and stretch to see her finish the last .2 miles over the line. 
Canary Wharf. 
Being overtaken by a giant pair of testicles!! (I kid you not, but Mr Testicles didn't get in front of me for long!!) 
Big Ben. 
The finish line on the Mall with the crowds screaming your name, clapping and cheering you right over the finish line. 

I wanted sub 6, I expected 5:45, I would've liked 5:30 or under - I finished the London Marathon in 5:45:41.  It was without doubt the hardest race I've ever run but also the most unbelievable experience I have ever encountered.  I've always said my body wasn't built for speed - it was built for comfort but ......it's a body that I work hard and one that no matter what I put it through it sees me to the finish.

Would I do it again? Hell yeh - I'm in the ballot and I now have a time to try and beat if I'm lucky enough to get through the ballot again that is. 

All I can say to my running friends is - if I can do it anyone can... and I couldn't have done it without their help and support or the help and support my gorgeous family and all my wonderful friends. 

I arrived home to more cards and gifts and a huge banner made by my beautiful little man (with the help from his Auntie Jeanie!) and I realised all over again just how blessed I am to have such precious people in my life. 

What's next for me?! I've one more race to do (Beverley 10k) before I set off to remarry my amazing, supportive and loving husband all over again for our tenth wedding anniversary. On a cruise with some of our closest friends and family. Much needed "us" time and to say I'm excited is an understatement.

Until next time. 

Much love


Tuesday, 21 April 2015

London......I'm coming!!

Oh my, Edinburgh Marathon seems a lifetime ago now but it was an experience which will stay with me for the rest of my life.  The euphoria, the pain, the hurt, the finish line.

Like many marathon runners I suffered the dreaded marathon blues, questioning myself and my beliefs for many months afterwards.  The year passed in a daze, the one thing I was glad of was that I had entered to ballot for a much sought after place in the Virgin London Marathon.  I can’t normally win an argument but hey, my entry was in the bag (along with another 129,999!!!)  and I stood a chance, a slim one as only 10,000 places were available for the ballot, but a chance non the less.  I had a long wait until September/October.

September came and very nearly went when all of a sudden I had friends posting on social media that they had been unsuccessful in their ballot place; I had no idea until now but apparently you received one of two magazines to advise you of your fate!  One had ‘Sorry’ on the front, the other had ‘You’re in!’ I awaited my magazine landing on the doormat. 
Wednesday is traditionally my rest and massage day.  I’d come downstairs after having Suzi do her weekly magic (why did it hurt whenever I had a massage now?) I picked up the post and started to scream.  Suzi flew down the stairs thinking I had fallen to find me shaking like a leaf in floods of tears holding a ‘You’re in’ magazine.  I had just got one of the most sought after places in the world, a ballot place in the Virgin London Marathon, how did that happen, how did I deserve that??

In true Ellie style my initial thought wasn't ‘right let’s crack on with training’ but rather ‘who shall I raise money for?’  Over the last 7 years I have raised well in excess of £20,000 for charity mostly on my own and mostly for BHF in memory of my Dad who died in 2008.  For many reasons I was ready for a change.  I didn't necessarily need to raise funds for a large national charity I could ‘go local’ and raise much needed funds for a cause still close to my heart but one that relied on local monies and businesses………  I had just that cause in mind.

The challenge itself needed thinking about too.  I prefer to raise funds for one charity rather than multiple charities and I now traditionally do events annually -  Ferriby 10 mile, GNR, Beverley 10k, Edinburgh Moonwalk to name but I few and I had 8 already booked for 2015, what if I increased it?? What if I could do 15??  I scoured the net and found races to add to my ever growing list. The challenge was decided and set!

The charity itself was almost a no brainer. 

Running with Fitmums introduces you to an abundance people from all different walks of life and your running buddies often turn into lifelong friends as you soon realise that sometimes it’s not just running that you have in common.

I’d met Katie Cowell at Beverley Fitmums on our Tuesday morning sessions and when we got talking I learned she and her husband Paul had tragically lost their daughter Abbie on 1st October 2011 having gone full term.  I had also lost Charlotte when I went into premature labour at 23 weeks on 11 June 2004.  As we ran, we talked, got to know each other, laughed and cried as we ticked off the miles.  Katy and Paul had set up Abbie’s fund in memory of their precious daughter raising funds to supply memory boxes for bereaved parents.  Having a memory box myself after losing Charlotte, I know only too well what it means to own one and also the healing properties they possess at such a traumatic time.

I can’t deny I did feel guilty for not raising funds for BHF but I know at the bottom of my heart my Dad would back me 100% in my decision and I would have his full blessing in raising money for Abbie’s fund.  I’d obviously talked it through with Ray and again, as always I had his full backing, it was a cause so close to our hearts and one that so desperately in need of funds.

To read more about Abbie’s fund and the fantastic work they do please follow the link below

This year will see me do 15 challenges in 2015, which will include the following........

25/01/15 - Ferriby 10mile – dedicated to Charlotte Amelia Birch
01/03/15 - Bath Half Marathon - dedicated to Lauren Ella Foley
22/03/15 - Lincs 10k - dedicated to Emilia Harper
12/04/15 - Hornsea Third - dedicated to Grace Harper
26/04/15 - Virgin London Marathon - dedicated to Abbie Grace Cowell
10/05/15 - Beverley 10k – dedicated to Ricky- Joe Emmerson
13/06/15 - Moonwalk Marathon
28/06/15 - Humber Bridge Half Marathon
12/07/15 - Ray's for life 5k
19/07/15 - WR Liverpool 10k
01/08/15 - Total Warrior 10k (endurance)
13/09/15 - Bupa GNR Half Marathon
05/10/15 - Kielder Marathon
11/10/15 - Yorkshire Coast 10k
05/12/15 - Rudolf Romp 24 mile (marathon status XC)

I thought it would be nice if I could dedicate each race to a precious life lost for the donation of a memory box (£25).  I spoke to another good friend of mine Katy Wood and asked if she could possibly do a press release for me - as ever she did an amazing job.

By the beginning of December “Ellie’s 15 in 15 challenges” was born.

I had determined which races I would run, the local paper had my press release, I’d set up my sponsor page and the money had started coming in already with friends dedicating races from the start (excuse the pun!)

All that was left was for me to put on my trainers and start clocking up the miles and with my first challenge being on 25th January I had to move.

Then my world fell apart in December as one of my best friends Elly was diagnosed with MND.
I’ve known Elly for over 15 years from my socialising and drinking days on Beverley Road and then latterly when we worked together at Waterloo Tavern.  It didn’t take long for us to become good friends (and both being single at the time, strong drinking partners!).  I then had the privilege to call her family when she started dating my cousin Rory in 2003 and subsequently got married in July of 2011.  The wedding had been postponed once because of the shock, safe arrival of their beautiful baby girl Poppy on July 4th 2006. 

Suddenly the ice bucket challenge was a reality in our lives and we were dealing with it first-hand.  In the early days of diagnosis we cried, researched, talked, laughed, screamed and asked question after question of what we were all to expect as we tried to take in what was happening around us.  It was just heart breaking watching some of the people I love most in the world cope with such a horrific life changing and life sapping disease. 

Even through the heartache we managed to have a magical, memorable Christmas with Rory, Elly and Poppy who stayed with us as their house was being adapted. 

Then on 28th December we had a call that Ray's sister-in-law had died from her long, tough battle with lung cancer.  Carole was one of the strongest women I’ve ever met and although not a surprise she had lost her battle, I was devastated at the emptiness that her not being here would leave in our lives. She was one of Ray's closest friends….. my world and those around me was falling apart. 
Here I was trying to keep strong for my cousin and his beautiful family and now for my wonderful husband and other sister-in-law Jo when all the time my own heart was breaking.  I wanted to run and never stop………………….. but my training had taken a massive tumble and I just couldn't get back on track.

With my first race looming I needed to take action.  Rory had got a last minute place in the Ferriby
10 raising money for MNDA and we made a point of getting out together at least once a week for a long run.  I've looked after Rory from him being a tot and he knows he holds a special place in my heart.  He has grown up to be the most wonderful and caring husband, dad and friend.  All I wanted to do was wrap my arms around him and tell him that everything would be OK - but I couldn’t – it would be a lie!! For once I could do nothing to take away his pain.  All I could do was be there for him when he needed me, when he needed help he knew I would come running and would be his shoulder and his strength. 

We both used our runs as our therapy and put the world to rights on the way round.  It was downtime for us both I think and he did amazingly in Ferriby, pushing me round the course and keeping me going.  Seeing Elly half way round, who had been brought out by friends was an amazing sight and another memory that will be locked in my heart. My first challenge of the year and race No.1 of 15 was in the bag.
Training was ticking over and after Ferriby came Bath Half on 1st March.  Jonathan, my step son and his girlfriend Katie had started running last year and he is now so fit and such a strong runner, he could quite easily have left me at the start line but he didn't.  We ran it together, on a glorious spring morning.  Although the course was advertised as flat, it did have a few ‘mounds of opportunity’ in there and was a looped course.  It was however, a good run and we finished in a respectable time of 2:27. No.2 of 15 completed.

Lincs 10 on 22nd March was another glorious spring morning. A crowd of
Fitmums had entered the Lincs 10 and we decided to go in convoy.  One of the runners was my friend Gayle who had gained a number for Lincs at the last minute. She had also secured one of the club places for the London Marathon.  She was, however,  battling with her feelings for London after being plagued with injury and also the illness and the loss of her mother-in-law June after a short illness.
Visiting the hospital, work and studies had taken its toll on her mentally and physically and her training had gone on a downward spiral, starting a year or so earlier with months yet tinged with sadness and heartache. . . . . . She needed a good run.  She got it!! She was strong, finished well and with a smile on her face.  She has since decided to defer her place for London until 2016 and I 100% agree with her decision.  She has so much on and has very little time to fit everything in.  She will storm London next year and I look forward to  training with her on her long runs and giving the support and encouragement she has given me throughout my training.

The thing about running is  that you tend to get caught up listening to your body for problems you would perhaps normally miss - perhaps something else that your body is telling you.  I've had sciatic pain for a few years on and off and my magical therapist always sorts me out, this time it was being very stubborn and I was suffering. I’d had to reduce my mileage and take it steady otherwise it would play up.  I’d also been suffering with my breathing but my sciatic pain was the main problem on my mind until a couple of my friends pointed out that  I may be suffering from asthma.  With a week to go before Hornsea Third and 3 weeks to go before London I hit the panic button and I made an appointment with my GP.

It was the diagnosis I was expecting but certainly not the one I wanted.  I sat in the car with my inhaler and sobbed.  All of a sudden I had to take an inhaler with me when I was out running. I was nervous, angry and upset but the Dr was fabulous and assured me I would be OK as did a lot of my friends.  I left the surgery with instructions that if I wasn't happy after trying it I was to make another appointment and she would help me through "London". 

I had to get through Hornsea first and there certainly would be an abundance of encouragement as there were 50+ 'army' of Fitmums members running the race, many of them coming from East Hull Fitmums.  In the event it was colossal and the good luck, kind wishes and friendship that filled the start line was evident of the team spirit that emulates around us all.  This would be the longest run for many and some were making it their first race, I was in awe.

I started the Hornsea Third nervous and anxious, both of which are not good for asthma! I finished it in a respectable time all things considered but I did end up having a word with myself half way round. 

My heart belonged to Ray and Tammy that day, I sobbed when I saw them coming down the home
straight,  they’d knocked nearly 15 minutes of their PB, the longest distance either of them had ever ran and they had just smashed 8.74 miles – a third of a marathon.
East Hull Fitmums to me is the Epitome of team work and everything it stands for.  Another member Julie so very nearly pulled out of the Hornsea Third because she didn't think she would be able to finish in the allotted time?! In true Fitmums style we all stayed back to see her over the finish line, those than never ran her home waiting at the finish line and screamed her over it.  I know I won’t have my Fitmums family with me in London and there at the finish line to see me over it but I will have them in my heart with every one of them spurring me on every step of the way to see me succeed.

With London now less than a week away, as always my nerves are kicking in.  My Dad as ever (especially at race time) is at the forefront of my mind. What on earth would he say to me gaining a place in VLM? He would be thrilled, call me insane, be as proud as punch and certainly be with me every second.  I always feel as though he stands just behind my right shoulder on race day and I’m going to need him more than ever this weekend. 

I'm going to be thinking of my gorgeous friend Elly and my cousin Rory and Poppy who are having to adapt to life changing events at the moment that are heart wrenching. 
I'm going to be thinking of my gorgeous little boy Benji who never fails to put a smile on my face and  just know he will be shouting “Well done mummy, keep going,  you’re doing great!” just as he does to everyone he passes when he runs the parkrun.  My precious little Charlotte who will be watching from the clouds with her Grandpa, I have so much love for you sweetheart I just wish I’d have been given the opportunity to show you.

I will be thinking of all my wonderful friends who have run, cycled, helped, Benji sat, listening to me moan and wiped my tears.  Of all of my special friends who spur me on every day with the love and support they offer me.  My Dad always taught me to treat people the way you expect to be treat. I do my best and try and give myself to everyone and sometimes to more than one at the same time.  My friends are the ones that remind me what a good person I am because I do sometimes lose my self-worth and it’s them that make me the person I am. They give me the love and respect back that I try and offer to so many.

And of course I will be thinking of my wonderful husband, without who NONE of this would have happened.  He really is my other half, not as my husband but the other half of me, we are a team.  I just know he will be scouring the crowd of 40,000 runners just to grab a glimpse of me and I love him with all my heart.

Let’s face it I've got 26 miles, sorry make that 26.2 miles (the .2 of a mile is VERY important to a marathon runner!) to think.  I'm under no illusion that it’s going to hurt this year and not just physically but emotionally and mentally too – it’s going to be the toughest race of my life - we’re only in April and that big fella up there is throwing a lot at me!

I've been honoured with a place at the start line of the iconic Virgin London Marathon, a race that I have watched on TV since it started some 30 odd years ago, only ever dreaming of taking part.  I'm going start at the start line and live every second of it until the finish line.  It’s not about a PB to me, it’s about running for all the people I love and care about, including those that are no longer with us.

A race dedicated to a very precious little girl - Abbie Grace Cowell.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Just one word ... WOW!

I'm now sat here thinking, was Edinburgh Marathon really last week?!

I had been nervous for a good 2-3 weeks leading up to race day.  I was emotionally drained without the added trauma of questioning whether I was fit enough, whether I had worked hard enough, eaten correctly, hydrated and all the usual fears that creep into the mind of a marathon runner.

I was worried I would let myself down and even more worried that I would let my loved ones down.  I'd spent months training, weeks on my legs and hours in tears.

Whatever the fears that were swimming around it was too late anyway, we were on our way up to Edinburgh for my first running marathon.  I knew I could walk one - I do one every year for Walk the Walk raising money for breast cancer charities but Sunday would be the day I set off at the start line to RUN my first ever marathon.  I specifically picked Edinburgh because it was there I walked my first marathon, the Edinburgh Moonwalk back in 2009 in memory of my wonderful Dad and I walked it on Fathers Day.

The days leading up to leaving we're very special - I had good luck cards, charms flowers and messages of support coming out of my ears.  I felt very honoured and extremely special.

One of my best friends in the world and my therapist, Suzi said she would come with us and look after Benji and give me the much needed massage therapy to start and end my marathon. Pete and Jo my 'sister-in-law' from Keynsham also came up to support me.

The apartment was in the middle of the city so we settled in and set ourselves up for a quiet night in.  Ray had once again performed his magic in the  kitchen and prepared a chicken pasta dish to bring up with us.  Jo and Pete met us and we spent the evening catching up and carbing up for the task ahead.

In time honoured tradition I set my kit out for the morning then Suzi set-to and gave me a relaxing massage to warm up my muscles and hopefully give me a good nights sleep - it worked!   I slept like a log and woke up 5 minutes before my alarm went off at 6am.

Breakfasted, showered and dressed we were ready to head to the start line at 8:45.  It was only a mile away from the apartment so the walk would be a nice warm up for my muscles.  The messages, texts and calls were once again in abundance to the point I had to stop reading them because my eyes kept leaking! 

The closer we got to the Regent Road the more the atmosphere was building. In time honoured tradition, I queued for the toilet before heading to my start point!  It was time to kiss my boys and the rest of my fabulous support team goodbye and make my own way. They wished me luck and I was in my pen and ready to go.  It wasn't just my mind that was now working overtime, so was my bladder, how come I needed to go to the toilet again?!  The gun went off and we started walking toward the start line and I had to nip out of the railings to a portaloo.

Mile after mile after mile I knocked them down. My music sometimes on and my phone often ringing with my friends, my PT, my wonderful husband spurring me on and making sure I was ok. I spotted an old friend from WLR Martin Reilly and we exchanged a hug and good luck wishes. He was doing amazing, way in front of me and on the loop back to the finish. It was just the boost I needed. To this day I don't think he knows what that hug and wish meant to me......... Priceless!!

Ray met me at mile 24 and ran the last couple of miles with me. Again, it was just incredible.  I'm so proud of everything he has achieved, especially since his operation last year. We got to the 26 mile mark and with a smile on his face and an abundance of love in his heart he told me to finish my race, bring it home and he would meet me at the end. I sobbed, he was amazing and I love him so so much. Never once has he doubted me or my ability. 

5:19:08 was my finish time! Wow I'd knocked over 40 minutes from the time I expected and 20 minutes off the time I wanted. Edinburgh marathon was in the bag and I was over the moon (and back) with my time feeling elated, absolutely knackered but one very happy bunny!!

Did I enjoy it?? I have to say it was certainly one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life and to say there were thousands of people running too it was the loneliest run I've ever done. Your mind plays tricks and you need oodles of self will to literally keep placing one foot in front of the other. 

But I'm certainly not done  -  I'm so pleased I entered the ballot for London. I doubt I'll get in, I can't normally win an argument but here's hoping!!

All that's left for me to do is thank everybody for their wishes, love, help and encouragement. I'm ready  to put my feet up for a bit and decide what my next challenge will be.