The Kent Road Runner marathon marked a huge milestone in my twelve-marathon challenge: The HALF-WAY mark!
I'm 23 years old, have been running for just 18 months and have completed seven marathons, one of which could pass for an ultra marathon but more significantly, six of them have been completed in the first five months of 2014! That is something to be proud of. And for the first time, I am genuinely proud of what I've achieved.
During the MK Marathon (May 5th) my quads seized up, my knee gave out and I could just about managed to put one foot in front of the other, meaning Mark and I had to walk a majority of the last 8 miles. It was gutting for me. Since then, I've struggled with my injuries. My wonderful osteo Luke has worked tirelessly on my knee, ITB and abductors, and spent many nights replying to panicked, tearful text messages. In the three weeks between MK and Kent Road Runner, I ran just three times, clocking up only 6 miles.
I rested, ate well and continued to cross train as much as my body could withstand before returning to Luke for one more hopeful session. A week on, I was back on the road, with just 3 days to go until the race. Meg and I went back out, this time with the intention to complete a short two-mile course. And we did! It wasn't comfortable but I wasn't in agony. It's like my body enjoys winding me up for several weeks, testing me, and then magically just repairs itself enough to let me get the job done.
Race day came around quickly, as always. We were stood on the side of the track at 8am; already, it was feeling HOT and I was very aware of the volume of 100-Marathon Club vests that were being worn.
I pinned my race number to my T-shirt and placed 16 plastic wristbands on my arm. Several pink, a couple of black, 2 whites, 2 red... I'd get rid of them one colour at a time. When I had no wristbands left I had to get round the 1.6 mile course just one-more-time.
Brian had kindly agreed to join me again. His third marathon of the year. I was relieved to have his support; we'd completed this course together before and whilst it was one of the most mentally challenging things I've ever done, Brian kept me moving with his singing, dancing and bizarre stories.
The only real benefit of a course like this is the support. I knew exactly when I would see everyone, and if they decided to stop sunbathing and wander across the BMX park, I might even see them twice! Mum was clearly worried about my knee, asking me how it was every time I saw her for the first three laps, she then slipped off for a fry-up (cheeky) and was far more relaxed when she returned an hour later to see me still smiling.
Discarding the final pink wristband, we recognised that we were nearly at the half way mark. "GET OVER THERE. YOU'LL SEE US HALF WAY TO HALF WAY" I shouted to Mark, Meg and Allie as we crossed under the 'finish' line once again. Crossing half-way in a relatively strong state gave me a real sense of pride. We weren't fast but for once it wasn't ugly!
I moved on to the black wristbands next. 'The Toe Nail Miles' I joked to Brian, not realising the enormity of the damage I was doing to my feet as I continued to run circles around the track (we'll come back to this).
The miles that followed seemed to pass relatively quickly. More of my family had turned up and the noise every time we ran past them was incredible. I think Team Run 12, arguably, have the biggest support team of any novice runners, and they are bloody loud when they want to be!
I spotted Shelley and Tony in the crowd and shouted to them that we only had four laps to go. The crowd of runners had thinned out now. I was feeling sick, having taken on too much sugar, and had a sore spot on the bottom of my foot. The laps seemed to be taking longer and longer.
As I removed the final white wristband and threw it to my little cousin Lara, everyone burst in to screams and cheers "ONE MORE LAP BEX!!!!". We stuck to our slow, steady pace, winding up the hill and then picking ourselves up on the downwards slope. As we got to one of the steepest bends, a man on his own, Mohammed, fell to the ground clutching his quad. "We've got to stop" I told Brian, he nodded and we made our way over to help this guy out. "I can't move. I can't move. I can't move. I've got three laps to go." I felt like crying for him, this was going to be slow and painful if he was going to make it.
We helped him stretch his legs out before pulling him back on to his feet. We'd compromised a good 10 minutes on our time but the thanks and relief in Mohammed's eyes gave me enough reward. Running isn't always about personal bests and we all know this challenge certainly isn't about speed for me. But to have been able to pull him back on to his feet and see him break back in to a slow shuffle was immense. "Runners don't leave other runners behind", Brian and I smiled and set back out to cross the finish line. (We got to witness the moment Mohammed crossed the finish line - congratulations!!)
Two ladies were neck and neck with us for quite some way. Get to the portaloos and make a break for it, I told myself, I pointed at the toilets to Brian and he knew exactly what I was planning.
One of the girls joked about racing us. I laughed and shook my head. She attempted a sprint finish, but had set out too early. As we came level with the portaloos, I broke in to a run, powering as fast as I could, pushing myself as much as my legs could take; catching up with the lady who'd started her final sprint a minute or so earlier, we then overtook her.
"This lady crossing the finish line is running 12 marathons in 12 months" the DJ announced. And that was it, marathon number 6 was done. The race director hung an enormous medal around my neck, we were handed boxes full of goodies but I just wanted to hug everyone that had cheered us around the course.
I may be the one pushing my body to its limits with this challenge but I am just a catalyst; spurring you all to donate your time and money to our charities. And for that, I am eternally grateful.
I had a little stretch before sitting down to take my shoes off. Meg bent down and peeled them off my feet, then my socks revealing the biggest blister I think anyone has ever seen. It was so big, I swear it actually had it's own pulse and personality.
The St Johns Ambulance team were fantastic and got me fixed up quickly. I was actually quite relieved for the little lie down in the back of the ambulance.
This has been a tough post to write; I'm sorry if it's a bit all over the place, but that's probably a reflection of where I am right now. Please continue to support me and Team Run 12, we may be a team of seven, but looking at the support we receive (in person and online) I've come to realise that there are many, many members of Team Run 12 from all over the world and we all share one dream - a cure for cancer.
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