Wow! What a weekend.
Reaching 50 marathons three days after my 50th birthday – I’m still on a high.
It’s been an incredible journey of ups and downs – but seeing that finish line at Edinburgh on Sunday was just the most adrenaline-fuelled moment of my life.
I remember rounding the corner at the 26 mile point, hearing the crowd cheering, the course lined with spectators, and realising there was just 0.2 of a mile between me and my dream.
I launched into a spontaneous victory sprint, crying out something like: “50 marathons, I’ve done it!” I literally leapt across the finish line, punching the air. It was simply A FANTASTIC 50!
Emotion got the better of me just after, as I sat and remembered my dad – his own challenging journey during the last three years reflecting mine.
Whilst, I’d persevered in ticking off around one marathon a month, 40 since April 2012, dad had struggled with advancing vascular dementia. I was adding to my mileage and my medals. Dad was losing his ability to speak, eat, sleep and recognise me – let alone, my achievements.
His finish line came 8 weeks before, when his heart gave out before his mind did. He’s been firmly in both of mine ever since.
He was definitely with me in spirit on Sunday. When my legs hurt and a howling headwind was hampering progress, his mantra he used when I was a child and we ran together, still rang in my ears: “It’s only pain, it won’t kill you.”
He’s been right you know. So right. Running can be painful. Hugely at times. But I’ve come through those barriers. Seen off my demons. Running has contributed to making me who I am – a stronger person, less afraid of challenge, determined to take on life and live it to the full.
Meeting my marvellous support team of family and friends shortly after the finish, by the local radio stand and hearing Coldplay Viva La Vida over the loudspeaker, I started dancing and couldn’t stop. It was a wild, carefree jam-jar moment.
I asked John, my husband, later: “Did I look a bit crazy when I was dancing to Coldplay?”
“Yes,” he said. “You did.”
“And what about when I jumped over the finish line.”
“Yeah, you looked crazy then as well”.
“Do you mind being married to a crazy woman?” I asked.
“Not a bit,” he replied with a smile.
Many people told me I was crazy to take on this challenge. It seemed total madness to me as well at times.
This journey has taught me – never let your own fear or other people’s doubts stop you from following your dream.
It may be crazy – but it could be fantastic too.
To all my running pals, who are so inspiring too, those I run with and those I know online, especially the girls who came with me to Edinburgh – Claire Ashby, Becky Robson, Jane Hemsworth and Helen Palmer, all from Sidmouth Running Club, who did the marathon and Amanda Perry and Julie Payne, who did the half.
Also to other people who’ve supported me, especially from our village community – who with family and friends, have collectively helped to boost my fundraising to nearly £5,000.
Thanks to everyone at BRACE, particularly chief executive Mark Poarch, for their support and for doing terrific work in funding much-needed research into dementia.
PS: Oh, just realised I forgot to say – I got a second best ever time of 4:14. I was about halfway overall, in the top third of all the women and in the top 20% of my age group. Not too bad for a fun runner!