After waking up at 6am, ploughing through a bowl of porridge and smothering my feet in vaseline (top tip for blister prone runners), we were on our way to the Cyclopark in Gravesend, Kent to set up for 'The Team Run 12 Micro-Marathon'.
Organising a marathon is a massive challenge. Even though only Brian and I were running the entire course, it shocked me how much you have to put in to get to the start line. Medals, T-shirts, finding the runners, entry fees, health and safety forms, the list goes on! But after seven-months of developing Team Run 12 and a frantic month of organising, we now had one task in mind: making it from the start line to the finish line.
The Race Begins
The Team Run 12 guest-runners and Brian Weatherly joined Becky on the start line. Setting off at a steady 6.30minute p/km pace, the first lap seemed to pass with ease. I did notice that running clockwise around the course was far hillier than the direction Shelley and I had rehearsed on New Years Eve but at this stage it wasn't bothering me at all. Infact, running up the slope towards everyone cheering made it seem the easiest part of the race (how wrong I was)!
Mark, Elle and Andrew's laps passed with ease as we reached the 10km mark in 62 minutes.
I challenge you to complete a Marathon and not have it change your entire life
Laps 5, 6 and 7 (Christine, Mark and Andy) all seem to merge in to one as the distance slowly clocked up.
On lap 7, Grayland warned Brian and I that the person due to run the next lap had already consumed four cans of fosters. Having woken up with a stinking hangover, Bradley had established there was no time for a cure, so continuing to drink was the only option. Somehow, Brad managed to stick to a relatively straight line and completed the course, commenting: "It looks like you're going really slowly but you're actually not when you're doing it".
Runner number 8, Allie got to share the magical moment that we crossed the half way mark! On the surface I think I looked quite calm, when inside I was wondering how I was going to find it in me to do that AGAIN.
The trouble with running a multiple lap course, particularly one you have to go around 17 times, is that even when your body is co-operating, your mind struggles. Not only does boredom set in but you spend a majority of the 'good bits' of the course dreading the tougher, hillier parts.
Teresa joined Brian and I for lap 10, and made it far easier. The entire way round we chatted about her running - how we, as runners, look at a run and even if our mileage for a week has been great we still want more. Teresa nearly had me in tears as we finished her lap when she said 'it's been an honour to run with you, keep going!'
CELEBRATION: Crossing The Half Way Mark
Nicole joined us at lap 11, and again having only been running for a matter of weeks, she did a superb job of making it round the course. A medal well earned! I really hope that the new runners who joined us for the day will keep running and take from it some of the enjoyment I take.
As the lap finished, my calves started to cramp. I tried to keep pushing but my legs nearly buckled underneath me. I got to our support team and begged for salt - everyone was looking at me like I was mad as I licked salt off my hand. It seemed to help and lap number 12 (Lucy) commenced.
When your Body Says 'No', Run with your Heart.
My housemates joined me for laps 14, 15 and 16. All of these laps were run/walks due to how shockingly tired I'd become but Flora, Ed and Will motivated and supported me to the end. Crossing the 'finish line' for the 16th time with Will and Brian was a big moment. Hearing Jack say 'ONE MORE LAP TO GO' sent shivers through me (a nice change from the nausea).
As the bridge came in to sight, everyone rushed to the side of the track to cheer us through a make-shift finish line. The team pushed me forwards so I could cross first. Running in to something that didn't break was quite amusing but as I touched the ribbon, and knew number one was over, I was flooded with so many emotions.
RELIEF - I DID IT.
APPRECIATION - I am ABLE to run a marathon, I have AMAZING family and friends. I have my health. I also have a very supportive boss in Brian.
HAPPINESS - Who wouldn't be happy?
And strangely, SADNESS - the first part of the journey is over. Although it has only just begun, I know this year will fly past and I never want it to end.
I love you all, every step was for you x.
The incredible crowd support. It was FREEZING cold yet you all stood outside for hours to support me for a few minutes every quarter of an hour. Whilst doing so, you raised over £100 with the raffle we held. Love to you all x
Finally, Brian. As mentioned in the video above, you were incredible. I don't know if I'd have got around without you. Thank you for pushing me, and sharing this journey with me. x