London is a magnificent, wonderful city, and never more so than on such a beautiful day as 17th April, 2005. I felt so proud to be part of the greatest race, in the greatest city in the world. The crowds cheering around Cutty Sark, the first glimpse of Canary Wharf, the grandeur of Tower Bridge, seeing the London Eye along the Mall, the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace telling me I was nearly there: all sent goose bumps down my spine.
Never mind becoming a pop or film star: run the London Marathon and you will feel the adoration, good will and support of thousands. Best of all, I met another girl, Cath, at the start. We ran together, complete strangers, but kept each other going every step of the way. That camaraderie is what London means for me.
The sight of my father, aged 60, dressed in yellow, standing on a council bin at mile nine with flags and video camera will stay with me for life. I don’t think supporters realise just what a difference they make.
From mile 22 I wanted to be sick and was, ceremoniously so, as I crossed the finish line. Apologies to all in the vicinity. It’s amazing how your body can hold it in!
My only frustration was that I started in a pen much slower than my target time which meant that I spent the whole time running slower than my natural pace, trying to overtake people and was never in my stride. I didn’t get a chance to stride out until things got wider and more spread out and that was only in the last couple of miles. I suppose that enabled me to give up on the stress of a target time and prevented me from hitting the wall.
Secret weapon? Walking 30 seconds every mile: it prevents cramp coming on and means you have something to look forward to each mile. I’ve run a marathon. I am a runner!