I am a marathon runner and wow what a marathon! 

Wow and wow again, the VLM, the greatest road race in the world, the 26.2……I did that !

So I am now a marathon runner, one of just 1% of the population who have run a marathon (funny, it doesn’t feel like that when you seem to associate with most of them!) I felt like a rock star, I feel epic, I feel knackered. I’m in a minority of which 34% of the field is female so I stand for the ladies out there who know they can do more. What a medal, it’s a beauty, I shall treasure it forever.

 

Look, the medal is immediate pain relief

The worst never happened…..

  • I didn’t die
  • I didn’t shit myself
  • I didn’t give up
  • I wasn’t beaten down The Mall by a 6ft chicken!

And the best things did happen…..

  • I did something aged 47 I never dreamed I would do
  • I did something aged 47 I vowed when I started running that I would never do
  • My family is massively proud of me and it’s hard to impress teenagers
  • I think I inspired a few LCAs out there that they can and should do more before life passes them by and you realise too late that you actually CAN’T do something

The organisation of 37000 runners is miraculous, it’s British logistics at it’s best from collecting numbers the day before at the Expo to handing in kit bags at the start and collecting them at the finish, it’s staggering, there were no queues, no hold ups, a marshal even asked me as I put my joggers on at the end if I had found everything efficient enough!

Only the queues for the loos at Greenwich were eye watering. Do I or do I not go, I couldn’t face the wait…….I threw caution to the wind and tried the new ‘female urinals’ with a few other brave souls up for a laugh. Just grab a cardboard ice cream cone on the way in and you’re good to go, as long as you can stop laughing. Let’s just say a few ladies gave up and just whipped their kit down and pee’d on the grass there and then and fortunately there was hand sanitizer on the way out…. Enough said !

 

23 mins from the gun for me to start !

The race itself was a 26.2 mile party. So many friends asked was I running on my own? Well yes, but then again no…I ran with what felt like the whole of London. The camerarderie between runners was incredible, every runner cheered on the runners in crazy costumes that they passed. Who or what did I pass? Well I ran with a kiwi for a while (bird, not fruit), the dinosaur was amazing, Jesus on the cross in bare feet was unbelievable, Minnie Mouse, a man in an orange suit that even covered his face (what did he do at a water stop…..let alone a loo stop?), a giraffe, an ostrich ….having a pee against a builders hoarding at the time, a man in a kilt, a man in a leopard catsuit (nice arse), a pair of testicles….which I first thought was a piece of toast, the Mario brother s in karts, the Cool Runnings Bob sleigh team, even funnier as they weren’t black! ….there were so many crazy costumes, as if the distance wasn’t enough for some people.

The en route entertainment was never ending, brass bands, jazz bands, rock bands, DJs, Japanese drummers, Indian drummers and in the residential areas, people who put their stereos out on the front step and cranked them up to full volume ……we salute you, that was amazing. The sound system in the underpass at about mile 23 playing Survivor, Eye of the Tiger, was inspiring.

What about the running? Well mile 1 was easy. In fact 1 to 12 were a doddle, I was on track at a 4.30 hour pace with just a small niggle in my right hip flexor that I’d never felt before and hoped would just go away. The turn onto Tower Bridge at this halfway point was the part I’d been dreaming about. I got such a lump in my throat I realised that it made it hard to breathe and I had to mentally calm myself. The CLIC Sargent cheer point was on the bridge and they went mental. Then the TV cameras were there too so I went mental!

At mile 15 I knew my family were planning to be at the next big CLIC Sargent cheer point at Milwall Fire Station and seeing so many other runners dip off to the side as they saw family members made me desperate to see them. I was so elated to hug them and the girls were so elated to see me. There was a moment for hugs and kisses. The mile after flew by, I was on air …..just in time to pass the next DJ as YMCA came on and yes every runner joined in!

The struggle for me was from mile 20, new territory in terms of distance and the right leg niggle was giving me more grief. I know I slowed at this point. The crowd were amazing, they yell your name, they tell you you’re looking good, they offer jelly babies, sweets and fruit. My right calf cramped at mile 23 and I walked it out briskly for a few minutes ready for the next big CLIC cheer point at mile 25. Just a mile to go. The excitement of running past the Houses of Parliament and onto the home stretch. You want to stop running but you know you can’t and you won’t. The crowd are screaming like loonies. The countdown starts 600m, now my right feels like it might actually give way from under me ( in which case I would have crawled !!) 400m and Buckingham Palace is in front of you. A quick panic…..how long is The Mall and how far down is the finish that you’ve seen on telly so many times? Actually it’s near the top end, there is a god……there’s no pain when you see that finish, there’s race photographers and you’re damn well going to look good in the pictures.

I did it….4.48, not exactly a fast marathon but within my 4.30 to 5.00 prediction and my preferred option of a number starting with a 4, not a 5. To think the winners did that distance over 2 hours faster is a testimant to the amazing power of a human body, still they didn’t run, dance, sing and wave their hands in the air like they just didn’t care on their way to the finish like I did!

Pain forgotten, I was escorted to the CLIC Sargent reception a short walk away where I met my family again, had pasta , another medal and a massage.

Despite thinking I was mad at first, my husband was proud of me. Despite it being a long day of struggling across London my daughters experienced an amazing event, saw the elite women and Paula Radcliffe run and are so proud of me I was instagrammed immediately and actually,  I’m rightly proud of myself.

2015 has thrown a few things at me I wasn’t expecting when I took on this challenge but I did it, I have raised £2200 so far for CLIC Sargent  and I am a marathon runner.

https://www.justgiving.com/Justine-Squitieri2/

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Categories: Ladies of a Certain Age Running (LCA), Race Reports

Tags: ,

5 replies

  1. I love reading London Marathon reports! 🙂

    Very well done.

    London (in 2000) was my first ever marathon too and I remembered lots of it while reading yours just now.

    Great feeling isn’t it?!

    Like

  2. I’m glad you did it too, because that was a wonderful story to read ! Enjoy the accomplishment 😉

    Like

  3. Congratulations! As a non-runner who also completed VLM on Sunday I know the exact pains you went through, You are right to be proud! Hope the legs are recovering (I still struggle to sit on the loo…)

    Like

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