One of the best days of my life - A lifetime ambition fulfilled!
I made it to the finish line in 4:55, slightly slower than my notional 'target' of 4:30, but it was such a very warm day that after 10 miles I stopped looking at my watch and just concentrated on reaching the end, which I did without stopping to walk at any time!
The main issue was avoiding dehydration and the regular water stations were very welcome. I also managed to avoid the dreaded 'wall' by taking it very steady in the first half, where I was 20 minutes slower than I had been for the Silverstone Half-Marathon last month.
It was a truly memorable occasion and the crowds were simply amazing; at times the noise was deafening and a real encouragement when the going got tough, (even better because of the tip to have my name on my shirt!). It was great to have my family there at the start and again at 24 miles on the Embankment offering their vocal and moral support. They looked great all decked out in 'Help the Hospices' T-shirts, headbands, sunflowers etc.
The emotion of the day was incredible, and the feeling when I turned into The Mall with the finish in sight was unforgettable! I then had the pleasure of speaking to Sue Barker after crossing the line (although not on camera!).
Other memorable moments: getting a hug and a kiss from the BBC's Sue Thearle as we tried to calm our nerves at the green start. Gordon Ramsay 'pushing' past me at three miles. Running past Cutty Sark, over Tower Bridge and the last three miles (past The Tower/along the Embankment/Parliament Square and Birdcage Walk)
I've watched the marathon on TV so many times that to actually be taking part and running in these areas was like a dream come true. It was difficult at times to take it all in and realise that I was actually there.
Worst moment: No question - seeing the poor chap being 'worked on' by the medics at 10 miles. I read on Monday that a 59-year-old died at that point. It puts everything into perspective, I guess.
Fundraising has exceeded my wildest expectations - it looks as though I will be somewhere around £4500!
A big 'thank you' to the organisers for a superb day.