London Marathon 2012

Maria Doherty – Chorley branch

London Marathon 2012 - In August 2011 I was very privileged and proud to be offered a place to run the London Marathon 2012 to raise money for The Princess Royal Trust for Carers.  Prior to the suggestion, the furthest I had run was a Charity 5k (3.1miles) in July but my personal trainer, friends, family and colleagues all convinced me (or I should say coerced me) into doing the challenge, reminding me that if I could lose 11½ stone in the last 3 years,  running 26.2 miles would be a doddle!

Rigorous training began, much of it on a treadmill in the gym to start off with. Each week would consist of 3 sessions on the treadmill, one session would be hills, the next one speed and then the third a mid range run – usually anything up to 8 miles in the later months.  Every Saturday morning I would be out in al weathers including hail, wind, rain, sun for my long runs and I knew that whatever the weather I must follow a plan and stick with it religiously and ensure I was out there.  During the 8 months of training, I had ups and downs, there were days when I wondered just what on earth had possessed me to say yes.  I was 45 and hadn’t run in over 30 years, how on earth could a woman, who had been so over weight become a marathoner. But by this time, people had started to sponsor me as they believed I could achieve so there was definitely no turning back, I had to do this no matter what.

The week before the marathon, and all my preparation was complete.  I now had to start looking at my diet and ensuring I ate the foods to fuel me for the 26.2 miles.  My husband Dave, I and two friends travelled down to London on Thursday 19th April to go to the Excel Centre to pick up my running number and chip.  It had suddenly become so real, I was given my number (45488) and in 3 days all my training was going to be put to the test.

Sunday 22nd April 2012- the big day had arrived. The coach picked me up from the hotel at 6.30am to take me to the red start at Greenwich.  We arrived at about 7.30am, it was a cold morning but at least it was dry, the forecast was to be rain later on and I was just hoping I would finish before it arrived.  The atmosphere at the red start was electrifying, I just sat and watched everyone walking by, soaking it up. There were people with the most outrageous costumes on and I just looked and wondered if they would actually finish wearing the full kit.  At 9.30 I made my way down to pen 6 – this was my allocated start pen, removed my bin bag and then heard the most enormous cheer - the siren had blown and we had started. I ran through the start and was dumbfounded at the amount of spectators out to support this event, it was amazing.  All the way round it was like a big party for them.  Some were having barbecues in their front gardens, the pubs had music so loud that people were dancing in the street, there were jazz bands, steel bands, and a full sized orchestra, I even saw people sat on a sofa which had been brought out of their home. The miles just went passed, I reached the Cutty Sark which is between mile 6 and 7 then onto miles 10, 11, 12 and all of a sudden I had reached Tower Bridge – the half way mark.  Still 13 miles to go but I was feeling good. By mile 17 I knew I would see my family and friends again so I had something else to focus on than the tiredness in my legs.  Once I had waved to them as I went past, I concentrated on eating up the miles once more. Before I realized it I had reached mile 23 and ½ mile further on there was a sign which said only 2½ miles to go at which point I had tears in my eyes.  I had always wondered where I would get the extra miles from as my longest run had been 22 miles and people had told me it would be from the crowd, but until that moment I didn’t believe them. It was such an emotional moment and I remember just thinking I can do this. I then reach the Embankment which was 6 deep of spectators, all shouting our names and telling us only another corner and we would be there.  How right they were, I started to see the signs of 800 metres, 600 metres, 400 metres and then the best one of them all going right across the road “385 yards to go”.  Buckingham Palace was on my left, I turned the corner and saw the sea of red in front of me.  Head up, shoulders back, and over the finish line – 5 hours 9 minutes and 21 seconds. Result!  All I can say is it is never too late to exercise, lose weight and run a marathon.  The proof is in the pudding.

I am pleased to announce that with the support from family, friends and all at Bell Group I have managed to raise in the region of £3046.00 for The Princess Royal Trust for Carers. A big thank you to you all.