Well did I break the 3:30?! Sadly not this time! :( Oh well, there's always another time!! I am proud of what I have however managed to achieve in my focused 15 weeks for my charity Macmillan Cancer Support & myself.
Thank you to all family, friends (including the RealBuzzers) who shared in my London
marathon 2013 journey. I don't think I could have done it without you all! Too many people to mention. You know who you all are though! So thank you! :)
Many of you deserve to share the medal I so proudly struggled to remove from my neck marathon night LOL! I even contemplated sleeping in it but decided to wear it instead at breakfast Monday morning! To the RealBuzzers & other friends who earned their own medals, congratulations to you all!
It was a tough 15 weeks, especially starting from scratch, but I was overwhelmed by the amount of support, advice & donations that I received. At times I struggled to run a mile, my body ached, negative thoughts entered my mind. However motivational chats with family & friends spurred me on along with my main reason for doing the marathon, in memory of my dad & to help all those affected by Cancer to at least have some comfort whilst they battled their cruel & unforgiving illnesses.
I visited the Expo on Friday with Pete. Thank you Pete for all your support as always. Even though Struggling with Viral Conjunctivitis & cold symptoms & feeling absolutely poorly, you were there by my side to support me in the final stages of the journey. That in itself was great strength as I could see how ill you were.
At the expo we met up with Laura our friend & another marathon runner. Laura is the very person who got me into running marathons back in 2007 when I really thought I couldn't! I had been so inspired by Laura's achievements she convinced me to enter Flora London Marathon 2008 & to this day after having run now 6 marathons of my own Laura still keeps on inspiring me to do more. The gifts of motivational running reads, videos, music, sweets, cards are well received as are the words of wisdom & valuable advice. Thanks Laura & thank you Matthew her husband also. I look forward to sharing more future marathon journeys with you!
The Expo was buzzing as always with plenty of stands for running products & also charities. Excited chatter all around as the marathoners realised it would soon be time! After registering & picking up my number & time chip, I stopped by the Macmillan Cancer Support stand to pick up some supporter T-shirts, waterproof ponchos & also clap sticks & to write on the Macmillan wall my reasons for running 'for you dad! xx' Laura & I also had our photos taken at the Virgin Money photo booths a great souvenir. So a fabulous day!
Saturday I tried to relax & hydrate. Also eat as many carbohydrates as I could to fill my tank. It was a day of organising the running kit, using the time to raise more valuable funds for Macmillan through Facebook & Twitter, & also to prepare myself mentally for the next day. Going to bedSaturday night was difficult, I felt like a kid on Christmas Eve waiting for Santa. Pete said 'its not like it's your first one' but believe you me, that nervous excitement of running a marathon I'm sure will not leave me. So finally retired to bed about 12:15 am.
Alarm went of at 07:00. Rose, showered & had a porridge for breakfast & then dressed in my runners gear with a track suit over the top as expected to be a chilly start to the day. Pete drove me to the station & I got the 08:05 to Maze Hill! A walk up the hill to the red start lots of runners excitedly sharing stories of training runs & one runner I overheard saying 'first mile run with your head, the next with your feet & the rest with your heart' that was to be my thoughts for the day .
The red enclosure was busy already, although only 08:30, with runners stretching, making last minute preparations to their running kits & making phone calls & taking photos of one another. Numerous runners were proudly wearing their T-shirts & vests of all the different charities they were supporting. Some were also in fancy dress: rhinos, smurfs,
fairies & different superheroes. I made a few phone calls & after dropping off my bag to the baggage truck I took up my position in pen 4 next to the Runners World 3:30 pacer Ian, with whom I hoped to run the whole marathon with.
10 am came & there was a whistle followed by a 30 second silence observed by all runners on each of the red, blue & green starts as a mark of respect to the people of Boston & the Boston Marathon. Then soon we were off.
The weather was already warm, the sun was shining & blue skies overhead. Although fantastic for the supporters, who lined the streets aplenty, I knew that some of us runners were going to suffer if it got any warmer. We had not trained in these warm conditions. Even I had had mostly cold trips away this marathon plan. Sub zero running conditions on many a training run.
The entertainment & support along the route was fantastic. This year I would say that the crowds of supporters were busier than I have remembered in previous years. The macmillan cheering stations bigger. All showing that they would not be kept away by what happened in Boston the previous Monday. All runners wearing their black ribbons & arm bands as a sign of respect all appeared to have a unity & this was clear in the way every runner wanted to help the other finish.
I spoke with several runners on route, including Angela running for her dad & brother & Andy who lost his baby son. Messages on the back of runners tops also told many a story of runners reasons for taking part.
The first half of the marathon I felt fantastic although there is always a jostling for position in the first few miles of London marathon as the crowd is so thick. A few people clipping heels, a few elbow nudges & pushes from runners as they ran in for water at water stations.
A lady in red fell over around mile 9, unsure why. Whether she had been pushed, had her ankles clipped or fell over one of the many strewn water bottles littering our path was uncertain, but stopping briefly, I scooped her to her feet again, ensuring she was ok before I carried on. Further along the route there were to be more casualties being attended to by St John's ambulance service. Tiredness, faints, heat exhaustion & cramps being an issue for many.
I took my runners gel every 4 miles as I broke the run psychologically into manageable chunks, but also in doing so ensuring I fuelled on route. I got to about mile 18, pacing Ian the whole way, when the cramps started. My toes of my left foot began to cross over as the cramp made it's way up my left leg to my thigh & bum cheek. I decided that I would try & run through the cramp, stretching as best I could on the move & hence working my right leg more. I would also take on some electrolyte drink & another gel. Unfortunately the cramp then started in my right leg also. From mile 18 through to around 22 I suffered with cramps on & off. I decided not to stop & stretch as I did not want to loose the pacer & also I was worried that should I stop I might seize up completely & not be able to get going again! At mile 22 Ian started to increase the pace & I could feel him pulling away from me. I tried to speed up to keep up but found no matter how much I tried my legs just would not move any faster. Disappointed I had to watch as the gap between us grew wider & I knew I had to say goodbye to my goal of the sub 3:30. The race was now my own & I had to refocus & remind myself my main reasons for running were not for a PBT but to raise valuable funds for my charity, in memory of my dad. That along with seeing Pete & family at 25 & the support of the crowd saw me through the final & difficult 4.2 miles.
What a jubilation though to cross the line. After having the time chip cut off, my medal awarded, my finisher photo taken & my goodie bag & kit bag collected I met up with Pete & family at the XYZ meeting point. Thanks Pete, Caroline, Sean, Steve, Anita & Adam for coming up to support me again this year. I really appreciated you all being there.
So was it a PBT? No, not this year! However I was happy with my time of 3:35:12 only 1 minute 04 secs behind my Marathon PBT. Had my Garmin not packed up on route I might have known I was pacing just a little slower than my PBT over the last 4.2 miles & I might have been mentally able to speed up a bit, but never mind! :)
So it was off to the Macmillan's post marathon reception with Pete. I had my photo taken with the mascot & then I had a cheer leader welcome into the reception area. They do make you feel so special. After a lovely massage courtesy of Macmillan I had staff approach me with food & drinks to refuel! Fabulous! A brilliant end to a marathon journey.
So for the fundraising: so far I have managed to raise, with all your help, an amazing £3,834 (£4,525 with gift aid) for Macmillan Cancer Support which is a fantastic amount & nearly twice my Golden Bond Charity target set by Macmillan! So thank you to all of you who have so generously donated to this worthwhile cause. Your donations will make such a difference to the life's of those people's affected by cancer. If you would still like to donate & help me reach the £4000 my fundraising page is open until July so there is still time! You can donate at:www.justgiving.com/craigduff1 or you can text DUFF53 £10 to 70070 (or any £ amount) thanks ;)
Here is an idea of what Macmillan Cancer Support can do with your donations:
£15 could pay for 32 copies of The cancer guide.
£100 could pay for a Macmillan nurse for four hours.
£951 could pay for a Macmillan nurse for a week.
£1,474 could operate their phone service for 2 hours - enough time to answer 54 calls and emails from people who need emotional, practical or financial support.
This is what Macmillan offers:
Macmillan fund Macmillan nurses, doctors,Band a host of other health and social care professionals who offer essential one-to-one support.
Macmillan's practical, everyday support includes financial advice through the Macmillan benefits advice service and Macmillan Grants. Grants for clothing, food &
convalescent breaks are offered.
Information and support:
Macmillan give people reliable information and emotional support through a wide range of materials so they can make important decisions about their cancer care.
Campaigning and raising awareness:
Macmillan raise understanding of the support that Macmillan provides so that all those who need Macmillan's help know how to get it. Based on what people affected by cancer tell them, they raise awareness of the realities of living with cancer and campaign and influence for change.
Practical and emotional support:
Macmillan deliver a range of services to help people deal with the practical and emotional issues of living with cancer. These include help with travelling to and from hospital, shopping and gardening, or support through buddying or self-help and support groups.
Learning & development:
Macmillan provide a range of training and development opportunities to health and social care professionals, people affected by cancer and volunteers.
Macmillan want everyone affected by cancer to receive the support they need no matter who they are, what type of cancer they have or where they live.
So now just over a week later I find myself contemplating where I go from here. I want to continue with my running & fundraising. I have decided on a minimum of 20 miles a week, at present, to try & maintain my current marathon fitness level. I managed to run 27 miles (4 runs) in the week post London marathon.
I also want to keep the 2 stone weight off, which I managed to loose, as I do feel a lot better for it. If possible I want to improve in my running technique so I am looking around for half marathons, other full marathons & possibly even an ultra marathon to compete in. I fancy Edinburgh, Inverness & Brighton marathons at some stage. I might even join a running club.
I will continue to do one major charity fundraise marathon each year. My next charity I am considering running for is Marie Curie Cancer Care as the Marie Curie nurse was a fantastic strength to our family when my dad finally had to say goodbye to this world. Marie Curie provides care for people with terminal illnesses, allowing them to die in their place of choice & this allowed dad to die in his own home, a familiar place, surrounded by his family. This was his wish.
So watch this space, 6 marathons & 2 half marathons completed & I'm not finished yet. Still more miles in these legs of mine! Still plenty more fundraising to be done for cancer related charities.
Thank you all,
Craig :) x
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