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Friday, 30 April 2010

Diary of a marathon runner

Thank you if you have already sponsored me to take on the London Marathon. Your donation really makes a difference.

Dalton Leong, Chief Executive of the Shooting Star Children's Hospice, Hampton.

What a day......

After a night's sleep interrupted by several wakenings to battle against the nerves, I woke at 6am for a good breakfast of oats, banana and toast with jam. It was going to be a long time before I ate again.

I set off just after 7am to catch a train to Waterloo station where I met up with my great training buddies, Paul and Darren, so that we could continue to get nervous in company!

The weather forecast was for a hot, sunny day with temperatures of up to 23 degrees and a possibility of heavy showers in the afternoon. Thankfully, all of that that did not transpire! It rained just before the race started at 9.45am and then was near perfect conditions for the remainder of the day. Good old forecasts!

Having originally put down a finishing time of 5 and a half hours plus when I applied for a place in the public ballot, I started the Marathon right at the back in zone 9 (next to the cup cake, Mr Pepperami and other runners in fancy dress).

Within the first few miles, people were walking! I spent the next couple of hours meandering through a sea of runners and by the time I reached halfway, I was at 2 hours and 17 minutes, 7 minutes more than my slowest half marathon pace in training races - "not good", I thought.

I soldiered on, determined not to stop despite my body and legs at times screaming at me to do so.

The sight of Shooting Star supporters en route was a welcome relief from the monotony of pounding tarmac with step after step and, strangely, one of the most challenging parts of the race was just before the 24 mile marker. Here, there is a tunnel of a few hundred metres. Oddly, about half of the runners who entered the tunnel decided to stop and walk. When I later asked a friend who himself stopped in the tunnel to walk why he did so, he replied, "because no-one could see me stop running or walking in there". I again fought off this dreadful act and carried on running. Immediately at the end of the tunnel is the 24 mile marker and, although I had never been beyond 20.2 miles in training, the sight of this marker was just the motivation I needed to help me get through the last 2.2 miles to the finish line.

These next two miles or so were really tough and thoughts of my Dad (who died 36 years ago the previous Saturday) and the children who have died at The Shooting Star Children's Hospice over the years, kept me focussed on why I had undertaken this challenge.

With 800 metres to go, I tried to go into a mini sprint but my left knee muscle immediately told me that was not a good idea, with a little twinge warning that if I tried that again I would almost certainly be in more trouble than I could take on. So, it was a gentle run at a slightly quicker pace than in the last few miles which took me towards the finishing line.

The moment that line was reached will live with me forever. Exactly 700 miles had been run in the 10 months since I started running to get me here and all of the emotions, mixed with the exhiliration of completing the Marathon in under five hours (4 hours, 44 minutes and 34 seconds to be exact) and without stopping, left me smiling through tears for the next 15 minutes. All of my targets had been met!

I did this because I wanted to support The Shooting Star Children's Hospice, celebrating its 5th Birthday since opening this year. The pain and perseverance needed to achieve this challenge is nothing compared to what the children and families have to endure all year round.

Please help me make my final target, the fundraising one, by making a donation (small or large - every penny really does count. For example, £2 will buy an oxygen mask).

Thank you for listening to my story and for your support.
posted by Radio Jackie News Team @ 6:04 pm  

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