Run #34 Reflection aka The London Marathon: My moment 🏅❤️

Just before the final 1000m the Spotify playlist I’d made myself for the day must’ve known I needed a bit of help; on came one my most inspiring songs to listen to, Beyoncé’s “I Was Here”. Somehow I managed to keep my emotions together though and take in the incredible sound and sight of the crowds.

But then my phone rang. It was my younger sister, Ciara… “Pops! I’m nearly there, I’ve nearly finished!” I exclaimed, this time trying to keep my emotions at bay but failing. She couldn’t be at the marathon as she had to work a night shift at the hospital but she wanted to be there so much and so called me to spur me on. What amazing timing!

“I know! I’ve been tracking you although it hadn’t updated and so I wasn’t quite sure where you were” she replied, also emotional. We chatted for a bit about how the run had been for me and what she had been up to so far that Sunday. It was so surreal, but so perfect.

As I ran up to the incredible sight of the fountain outside Buckingham Palace, describing everything to Ciara as I went, seeing The Mall was just too much. Lined with Union flags and stands of spectators, the finish line was literally in sight. And so too was the possibility of a sub-5 hour run. My only aims throughout this whole experience were to raise as much money as I could for Mental Health Foundation, raise as much awareness as I could about mental health issues and to simply complete the marathon, whatever happened. To have had what I could only describe as the perfect run (don’t get me wrong, it was horrible, painful and tough!) was beyond anything I could have hoped for.

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So with this all in mind, me still on the phone to Ciara, I somehow managed to pick up my pace and charge for the finish line. All I kept saying was “I’m nearly there, I’m nearly there” as Ciara replied “you’re nearly there, you’re nearly there”.

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The moment caught on camera as I cross the finish line is me saying to Ciara “I’ve done it. I’ve finished the London Marathon”. I cover my mouth in astonishment. One of the marshals pats me on the back and says “well done Fitz”. I’m still on the phone to Ciara. We both burst in to tears.

***

As the message a good friend sent me the morning ahead of the marathon said:

pain is temporary, awesomeness lasts forever.

So too do memories and that sense of achievement. The final moment, the whole race and the entire experience of the past few months will stay with me always. All the training, the pain, and even the bad times with my brain have been completely worth it. I’ve proved to myself that given time, a positive can come out of a negative. No one can take this away from me.

Run #34 Rating & Reflection

Achievement = out of this world.

Enjoyment = that’s not the right word for the experience. There simply are no words to describe the run nor the past few months.

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Run #20 Reflection: back to reality!

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While I crashed back to reality, facing the brisk wind in the Welsh capital, the edge of this harshness was softened not only by seeing another good friend but softened by my new running tights, a birthday present from said good friend. So I pulled on the junior size jazzy black and white leggings (yes, junior – Nat reassured me they’ll stretch and I’ll fit in them… hmmmmm) and we set off for a short run around the block and the park, with super Seth in tow (the most awesome cocker spaniel!). I must admit, I’m not a massive fan of running with other people. I know I’m not the fastest and I don’t like to push myself too hard; I want to get fit, train well and make sure I get across that finish line come April 23rd but I’m quite happy at going at my own pace in my own time. Now Nat’s super fit, as is Seth! So the pace was a little quicker to what I was used to. Plus, I was a bit rusty. While I’d been doing lots of different kinds of exercise in St Lucia, I hadn’t done all that running – something which I kind of need to be doing! So my legs were a little out of it on this run. However, I did complete it and I did enjoy being with Nat and Seth. Still not something I’d do for every run but I realised much of my dissatisfaction of running with others comes from my own self-consciousness, lack of belief in my own abilities and me comparing myself to others. When I ease off on those, running with others eases, too.

Run #20 Rating & Reflection

Achievement = 4

Ran pretty quickly but had to stop a couple of times for feeling short of breath.

Enjoyment = 4

More enjoyable than what I was expecting (no offence Nat!).

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Run #30 Reflection: 2 little ducks 🦆🦆

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It was as if the stars and planets aligned, the various Gods of this world were all smiling down on me, or I’d simply got out of the right side of bed (which, ironically, is the only side of the bed I can get out of in my new flat for lack of space in the bedroom). I can’t really describe to you what this run felt like other than, well, glorious. And I can’t believe I’m using that word to describe a run! But it really was. The night before I’d had a decent dinner (salmon, broccoli and sweet potato), had a decent night’s sleep, got up feeling relatively refreshed and had a good breakfast (my usual porridge, seeds, almonds, cinnamon and honey) as well as a bagel and coffee. A friend of a friend who’s run the London marathon before suggested I had a plan for my race day run, something I hadn’t yet considered. And so in preparation for the day itself, I thought it was worth putting my plan in to action to see how well it played out before I did it for real…

So, as above for preparation. I set off late (I’m always late – better change that for April 23rd!) but it was only by an hour; I was trying to mimic what it *might* be like on marathon day so I felt adequately prepared. So I set off in my shorts, vest, running belt (I look like Lara Croft of Runners World, just not as hot or fit) and my new runners (I’m in love with them, sorry old Asics). The sun was shining proudly against a clear blue spring sky. It happened to be the weekend that there was a mini-kind-of-heat-wave in England. Not ideal although I guess helpful just in case the end of April throws up some lovely weather for everyone but runners (well, I don’t like running in the heat, anyway). At least there was a bit of a cool breeze. But unlike my last long run – the failed – 20 mile attempt – today, I was in the zone.

In. The. Zone.

My music was pumping (thanks to a friend for putting together a unique Spotify playlist for me – old school hip hop with some power ballads!). I was focussed. I just kept on visualising the London marathon. My mind wasn’t wondering, my legs weren’t aching and I didn’t feel sick. The only thing that was a slight discomfort around mile 15 was the fact that I needed a wee, and then the added agony of trying to decide whether or not to have a pee in the bushes (I decided no – I just wanted to keep on running). I was doing 3 loops of a route I’ve come to really enjoy in Swindon, my new home. Running out towards Coate Water Park – a favourite childhood place and actually, still one of my favourite places as an adult – felt so good. A mix of hills and flat running and then, when you get to the park itself, opportunities to shelter from the sun in the shade of the woodlands and the chance to enjoy the view of the lake – not to mention the challenge of darting out of the way of children on scooters at the play area! I’m sure some people in the park had a serious case of déjà vu throughout the afternoon. But it was glorious. Absolutely glorious. It just didn’t feel like that much of a challenge. How can that be, when Monday was so tumultuous and trying?

In fact, this was such a glorious run that not only did I meet my 20 mile target, but I went for another 2 miles. TWO MILES! That was like another half an hour (my pace had slowed by then!). I was chuffed. So bloody chuffed. Not only had I reached my target, but I’d surpassed it. It was so important for me to try to reach 20 miles before the marathon; mentally, I needed to know that physically (and mentally) I can do the bulk of it. I should have started tapering at this point, doing a 15 mile run today but I just simply had to do at least 20 miles. And I did, and then some. 22 miles. I can’t quite believe it. And yet, I can. I now believe in myself. And that is the best feeling of all of this.

So come on April 23rd and the additional 4.2 miles – I’m coming for you.

Run #30 Rating & Reflection

Achievement = 5

Enjoyment = 5