As soon as we went through the start something horrible happened. My legs turned to jelly, I broke out in a cold sweat and I felt sick. I tried to run but I felt absolutely awful.
I called Zoe back, and fiddled with my iPhone headphones to try and buy some time, but I knew I really didn’t feel well at all. I realised I’d forgotten to press start on my Garmin, and that I’d forgotten to turn off the auto-pause function, so I had to try and work that out whilst trying to keep moving. I was feeling a bit tearful and sorry for myself.
We stopped at the first loos, then I told Zoe to run on a bit whilst I walked and tried to work out how I was feeling. There were quite a few people who had obviously decided they were going to walk the whole route, including a man dressed in a full suit of armour.
I passed the first couple of miles, with people in their gardens cheering me on and a priest throwing holy water and blessing us all.
A voice shouted ‘Rachael! Marathonmummy! I read your blog!’ and there was a camera in our face snapping madly.
Tracey’s husband works with mine, it transpires. There I was thinking I was famous for a moment.
So we trundled on. It felt hard, much harder than any of the training runs I’d done in the last few months. Every time I ran I thought I was going to throw up, and my walking pace wasn’t anywhere near the 13:40 mile that I can do when I’m marching along. My first mile took 17 minutes – that says it all.
By the time we were at mile 3 I’d started to speed up, mainly because we were in a race with the clearing up process. The councils in London allow the roads to be closed on the premise that they’ll be reopened as soon as possible, so they start working pretty much straight away. There were two tractors which came along to move all the water bottles to the side of the road, and Zoe and I spent the next few miles leapfrogging the tractors and trying to beat them.
I met up with Jyo from the Runner’s World forum and we had a quick chat, then I trotted off to try and catch Zoe. On the way I met Lucy, aka Spinkletoes, also from Runner’s World, who was having a bad run too.
Mum called to say that they were waiting for us at Greenwich. By this time we’d found a pattern – Zoe was about 10-20m in front, running, and I’d jog a bit then walk as fast as I could. I still felt dreadful but I was trying to ignore it. I high-fived every little hand that was put out for me, and smiled and thanked every single person who stood in their garden cheering us on.
We met up with Mum, Chris and my Uncle Stewart at mile 6. By this point I was feeling confused and frazzled. I didn’t really know where we were, I didn’t know what speed we were doing, I just knew I had to keep on going.
The next few miles seemed to pass quite quickly. I was jog walking; Zoe was in front, running steadily. I chatted to a lovely American girl about not being designed for running but being great at walking. I had realised that if I couldn’t run, at least I could pick off people one by one, so I would walk as fast as I could, then jog past someone, then walk a bit more, jog past another one – knowing that every time I did I improved my placing kept me going.
By this point I’d lost sight of Zoe and I’d found Lucy again. We marched along together until mile 12, where Zoe was waiting for me with our little cheering gang again, by this time joined by Lorraine and my niece, Mae.
Here we are – Zoe’s already arrived, I’m trundling along – and Lorraine is screaming like a loon. I had a little cuddle and a cry with my mum, then we headed off for Tower Bridge and the second half of the marathon.
To read part 3 go here.