I was neither nervous or excited as I waited in what was called a "pen" for the marathon to start. In fact I felt the same as I’d felt all the way through this process – like it wasn’t real. Because the idea of me running the London Marathon is so far beyond my ability to conceive.
Becca and Darin were in front of me. We'd met at Limehouse station and travelled with masses of runners to the red start.
Becca and Darin had completed their run prep like pro's while I just stood around. The other runners who were sponsored by Nestle Pure Life had gathered for the PR photo and were discussing their estimated times. 3 hours. 4 hours. I said nothing. Increasingly I felt like I didn’t belong here. I had only run for 3 hours and 13.5 miles.
My plan had been finish the same day I start but then I read that if you didn't finish within 8 hours 15 minutes you didn't get a medal. I hoped for 5.5-6 hours.
But I felt like I didn't belong. I was just along for the ride. I was trusting in my training plan from Full Potential to have prepared me as I shuffled along behind Becca and Darin to the start.
And then we were running. They settled into their 9 minutes running, 1 minute walking routine. They'd done races together before. I tagged along behind. But my brain isn't used to stopping. I am used to a 'keep going whatever' mentality and was finding 9+1 very tough. The problem was, at the time I didn't realise it was that. I just thought I was being crap. I thought that despite following my training plan religiously I wasn’t well enough prepared for this.
Darin and Becca were soaking up the atmosphere and loving it. Darin was reaching out to high 5 all the kids with their arms out. He was like a true celebrity. People called out names from shirt. "Well done Darin" they yelled. My rucksack was covering my name. No-one was yelling Dawn.
I tagged along.
Mile 3 came and it was the first Nestle Pure life water stop. I decided to wait until mile 5 for the Lucozade. I'd been drinking the lite version in my training runs and liked the energy. But this was the full sugar and it was too sweet. It sat heavily on my stomach. After that I grabbed water every time there was a station and drank it before the next. I did well on keeping hydrated but my energy was low. Becca said she was having a gel so I had one. It also sat heavily in my stomach.
Darin kept veering off to shake hands. I tried to concentrate on keeping up. It wasn't working and so , at mile 6 I waved them on. I didn't want to hold them back. After all, I didn't really belong there, doing that. It was their thing. I watched them disappear into the distance and felt useless.
I was only 6 miles in.
I had 20 to go and I was struggling.
But I'd done everything in my training plan. I'd run for 3 hours and this was 1 hour 15 ish. What was wrong with me?! I reached for my phone to look for the amazing support of my Twitter and Facebook friends. It was out of battery. I had a spare but needed it for the finish. I'd messed up my iPod at the start so had put that away.
If I was to finish this, for the next 20 miles I would be on my own.
I told myself I should be enjoying it. I should be getting a boost from the crowds. But I wasn't enjoying it and the crowds were doing nothing for me. I was still jogging. I switched to walking and occasionally jogging because I knew if I was to do this the one thing I must not do is stop.
I ran the 26.2 miles without stopping a single time.
I tried to work out how I could quit. But couldn't find a way I could live with myself if I did. Besides, I couldn't let all of you down. With your encouragement and support and faith in me. All of you out there kept me going.
So I power walked and jogged. I started picking out fellow runners who were keeping pace with me. I went into pattern spotting mode!
- The guy with a full size replica tiger on his back. He finished ahead of me. The crowd yelled "oi mate, you've got a tiger on your back" when he passed and he occasionally stopped to let the kids stroke it.
- There was the overweight lady running on her own. Red faced and struggling, she just kept on slowly jogging along.
- Big Ben scooted off for a wee on the grass (he wouldn't have fitted in the portaloo's) and was followed by St. Pauls and the Gherkin.
- The Oompa Lumpa's who were very tall kept passing me and the audience always sang the tune as they passed.
- If these people could do it then I could.
As I reached halfway I was disappointed. My time was around 3 hours. The same as when I was training and walking up hills. I kept swapping between walking and running because it was easier to run - that's what my training prepared me for - but it was more exhausting. Every time I stopped to walk I found it harder.
I passed a few McDonald's and thought about going in for a diet coke and something to eat. Surely it must be lunchtime soon? I grabbed a jelly baby that someone was offering and it gave me a real energy boost. From then on I grabbed a Jelly Baby whenever it was offered. Luckily plenty of people lined the route with Jelly Babies! I kept looking at the crowd trying to get a lift from them. But I needed to just keep going.
Mile 14 was horrible. The course loops and overlaps with mile 22 on the other side. I had 3 more hours to go. They had about 25 minutes and were all running.
It was at around this point I passed Darin and Becca without realising it. They'd stopped for the loo. I stopped for nothing. The one thing I would not allow myself to do was stop.
I couldn't afford to think about the end. I would get too desperate to finish. I had always said that if all else failed I would just walk it and when I was young I used to go on long walks with my grandmother so was comfortable in the belief that I could walk any distance. So I started pacing myself to about a 15 minute mile. It gave me something to focus on.
I wondered how far ahead of me Darin and Becca were.
I found the course quite boring and kept on reminding myself that I should be enjoying it. Getting a boost from the crowds. I wasn't. I didn't. I wondered why I was doing this but knew that now I had started, I would eventually finish and have that achievement.
3 miles before the end. I knew I'd finish now. I told myself that I easily ran 3 miles at home and started running more. The heavens opened. My Garmin watch ran out of batteries so I couldn’t set a pace. It had been running about 3/4 mile ahead of the actual distance all along anyway. But it’s nice to see the consistency in my splits when I downloaded the data.
Now I had no pace. 3 miles to go.
I wondered if Becca and Darin were now getting dry. I wondered if there would be anyone to meet me. I'd seen No-one along the route. I know Donna was somewhere around mile 3 but hadn't seen her.
I kept turning bends thinking it would be the mall but it wasn't so I had to walk again. Eventually I was on the last straight. The crowds had mostly gone. I looked over at the Nestle Stand and it was empty. I raised my arms and smiled for the photo at the finish and finished the marathon in 6 hours 21 minutes. I got an official photo taken then grabbed a goody bag. I sat down on a dry bit of gravel, scoffed some fruit thing in the bag and swapped my battery to call my friend. We arranged to meet at the place where I was supposed to meet Darin and Becca.
I got there and there was no-one around. So I sat down. I messaged Sandra who I knew would be there for photos at the end. She asked where I was and where Becca and Darin were which confused me! She headed over.
My friend and the little one came over and I gave the little one a big hug. She was soggy from standing in the rain. They had been on the other side of the road yelling at me apparently.
I hadn't noticed.
Then Sandra appeared and then I saw Darin.
"You finished before us" he said.
I looked at him blankly.
He repeated it.
Apparently they'd stopped for the loo around mile 10 which is when I'd caught up and then at mile 16 he got a real problem with his calf that meant they had to walk. Sandra had missed me coming up to the finish but seen and photographed them.
The hubby took a picture of the tracker which show’s I kept a nice even pace all the way. The red/pink line is me, the blue line is Darin and Becca
I am happy with this chart but I would have liked my overall pace to be a little faster.
We had a photograph with our medals (after someone had lifted me up!)
I hobbled off home. My injuries had been fine but 26.2 miles and 6 hours 21 minutes of running and walking meant my legs were totally knackered. Thanks to my anchor my feet weren’t tired though. This was just the muscles in my leg. Overnight on Sunday they got worse and they were agony on Monday but by Tuesday my legs were mostly recovered. So all good.
Just a few people I’d like to
blame thank for running the marathon before I end this marathon post!
Thankyou Becca. If it wasn’t for you, when Nestle Pure Life PR contacted me and asked if I would like to run the marathon I would have said no. Thankyou for preparing so well and being so open in sharing that info and helping and guiding me. I know I am stubborn and I just couldn’t seem to think my way through the logistics. Because of you I knew what to do when I finished the marathon on my own!
Thankyou Darin. You have been my inspiration to run more than 1-2 miles. I saw how you fought to build up your runs and how you succeeded in the GSR and then the Brighton half marathon. It inspired me to prove to myself that I could run those distances. Without that I would never have said yes to running the marathon.
Thankyou Nestle Pure Life. You gave me a once in a lifetime offer that I couldn’t say no to. You provided an excellent company in Full Potential, who write a training plan tailored to me and who were always there for advice. You kept in touch and sorted everything out for me. I feel very lucky to have been given this chance and am delighted that just before we set off we had raised at least £34k for the Samantha Dickson Brain Tumour Trust. I know we will raise more too.
Thankyou to my friends on Twitter and Facebook. Your support kept me going before, during and after the race. You tracked me online, you donated to my charity, and you supported me constantly with messages. This is my Facebook stream after I posted my message
Just in case you weren't tracking me - I've just finished the London Marathon!
- I was watching too, until they cut off at 4pm
- Official time was 6.21.15 and it cut off at 6.20.00 grrrrrrrrrrr
- You were being tracked all 3 of you! well done! proud of you xxxxxxxx
- Amazing achievement! Well done. Are you going to do another one :-D
- I got knackered just looking at the tracker page!
- And incidentally, Dawn says she's fine. Which is good to know as she had a knackered leg going into it! ;)
- Such an inspiration :) x
- Naah, she'd doing anything to get out of cooking Sunday lunch ;)
- Fine! FINE! she's just run 26 and a bit miles - how can she be fine???!!!
- Count legs - 2 - count working lungs - 2 - that's fine then!
- I'm disappointed - no updates from you whilst running? ;)
Seriously - WELL DONE! Just brilliant.
- Count blisters - 27 - count aching muscles - all of them?
- Also watching to hope to see you finish. Well done!!
- count non-aching muscles may be better. ;) Count level of urgency for a loo before coming over all Paula Radcliffe... hehe
- Hehe :-D
- Brilliant! Well done Dawn. Just the victory lap now:)
- Amazing. You're a marathon runner! Couldn't believe it when they switched over to the snooker. We'd tracked you all the way and the boys were shouting 'come on'! Well done :)
- Well done! Xxx
- <smiff> I knew you were running round with other men! ;)
- I was tracking you all afternoon...go you! Fantastic, inspirational, a massive well done x
- You have done brilliantly I have been tracking you too! :-) Really well done
- I'm waiting for Marathonfoto to come up with the pic at the finish...
- YOU JUST RAN THE LONDON MARATHON!!!!!!! Gooo you!!! xx
- Amazing well done!
- Fanbloodytastic !!!!
- Well done, Dawn - I was following your update page all day!!
- Well done so impressive xx
- Wow. Amazing!!!
- Well done. An amazing achievement. X
- Well done Dawn, so chuffed for you. Fantastic achievement. You're now a marathon runner for the rest of your life. :-) x
- Soooo impressed Dawn!! WELL done, you're an inspiration! Hugs from Sweden!!
- Congratulations Dawn!
- I was also sat there with my camera (iPad) to take a photo when they bloody turned off, was furious!
- Thanks all. Shame about the bbc but I will have a picture from my finsih to share ;)
- Congratulations! What an amazing achievement! You must feel sore and cream crackered but fab!! xxx
- What an amazing achievement. Well done just isn't sufficient to say! Ax
- Well done Dawn - my sis finished too
- Well done Dawn!!
- Great effort! Well done. The world is definitely at your feet now! Big hugs from here
- lady - lady lady - so impressed! - so pleased for you, now get that gdress on and go get that award!!! xxxxxxxxxxxxx
I hate the BBC btw - I was watching the (rain soaked) finish cameras - then just as you were due - they switched the flaming things over to snooker!!!!! AAAAARGGHH. Was sat there with camera and everything!
Thankyou Trevor. For helping me to see that life is for living. And for showing me that I have the most amazing people around me that I love to bits.
Thankyou Sandra. You and Thinking Slimmer started this whole journey off. I didn’t just lose weight, but I found myself freakishly wanting to run where I never had before. And because you care so much that the Slimpod works for every single person you picked up the phone to speak to me and changed my life with that one small action. I’m also happy and lucky enough to call you a friend these days.
Thankyou Hubby. Your unerring belief in me is amazing. And despite the disruption the marathon training caused to our lives you never for one minute complained or made me feel bad about doing it. You faith and pride in me since the moment we got together has allowed me to become anything I want to be. Your message on Facebook on the day of the marathon was amazing
I can't begin to say how impressed I am with Dawn. She's taken on this marathon and given it everything. All through the winter she's kept up her training, even the bit she hates (intervals), using the treadmill when it was too horrible to go outside. This is while doing her main job, her second job (the hypnotherapy), spending time with the little one, and, most importantly, going for takeways. You're incredible Dawn. Nice butt too. ;)
I love you more than the world and am so lucky to have you as my hubby.
Dawn, marathon runner, 6 hours 21 minutes.
Am I glad I did it? Yes
Did I enjoy it? No
Would I do it again? Never.
By the way the winner of the iPod Shuffle is Hannah Shine with a guess of 6 hours 30 minutes!! I will email you and sort the details out Hannah