Posted: 27/11/2011 at 20:14
Off I went, full of trepidation about my knee. I felt that it would probably ‘go’ at some point, more of when than if. I just wanted to get as many miles in as possible so set off at 5 hour pace. This was quite comfortable for me as I am a confident runner and let me work some of the stiffness out.
The 1st, 2nd and 3rd laps were great. I chatted to those who would, high fived kids and just enjoyed myself. I’d always avoided lap and city based marathons, instead enjoying difficult cross country courses and really loved the scenery and atmosphere around Henley. The back end of the course was quiet but this is my usual favoured atmosphere at running events so was quite happy to dip my head and plough on. The lap format made it easier to tick of laps rather than miles and passed time quicker. Each lap completed meant a new band to wear and a chance to high-5 and kiss my family who were waiting at the finish line.
Going into lap 4 I felt euphoric. I felt OK, no gastro problems, no serious energy or morale dips like I’d had at the end of the bike and I KNEW with 10k to go I would finish this thing. I kept fantasising about the finish line and was welling up.
With a head torch on as it was getting dark off I went. 1 mile into the lap I started to suffer my first effects of exhaustion. I was getting confused and disorientated by lights and the effect of the torch shining on the road. I was giddily happy with anyone who talked to me – I think as a psychological weapon to blank out the fatigue. I also had to really concentrate on what was real as I went round the quiet parts around the back as I felt that I might just wander off-course.
By the time I was at the back end of the course (about 4 miles to go) it started to rain. I didn’t care. It felt amazing. I was fit, strong and would be an Ironman. In my tired state I loved the way the rain felt and the lights from the floodlights were bouncing off it.
As I reached the towpath I recognised the figure in front of me. It was one of my heroes, Rosie Swale-Pope. We exchanged words and I told her what an inspiration she was to me. She is so humble, told me we were her heroes and that she would be doing all 3 legs next year. I look forward to that!
Going into the finishing chute was amazing. All fatigue was gone and I prepared for a signature sprint finish. As I went around a corner my leg slipped in the wet mud and I decided against a sprint finish. I didn’t want to risk falling over and not being able to get up again with 200 metres to go! After finding my mum and fiancé on the chute I went over to thank them and took the line. It was great and surreal and over.