I'm back again. It's definitely safe to say I'm a bit glutton when I comes to punishment, but I did it! I had been privileged enough to be part of 2015's Virgin Money London Marathon via the ballot system and had chosen to use my place to run on behalf of The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) which is a charity which offers information, support and advice to almost two million people in the UK with sight loss.
I did it... again. It was an excruciating, exhilarating, bizarre, unique and overall an amazing experience... And I'll do it again; if I ever get the opportunity again. It was such an amazing experience: I now understand what it means when the London Marathon Team referred race day to London's big day out. It's the sense of community and belonging from the runners; beside you as you push each other to the end; it's the passion and support of the crowd; the weather; the sweat, the pain, the tears, and finally the constant running, mile after mile; making the way all the way to the finish no matter what.
I'm not going to say that it was easy or at least easier than last year because it was really hard and honestly, running the London Marathon was much more of a struggle than I anticipated. I ran. I ached. I slowed. I ran. I kept going. I felt sick. I ran. I limped for a bit; until I found the strength to run again. I got to the finish line. I did it. I hugged the person who gave me my medal; then I cried. I heard the crowd's motivational roars to help me reach down and find the strength to run again. I thought to myself about what would happen if I stopped so close to the finish. I was too close. I wasn't going to get it all slip away from me. That was when, the shouts from the crowd, got louder and louder; they shouted my name.
Once I finished people would keep asking me how tough it was. It was tough but an experience I'd happily go through again for a third time. Although I was cold as the temperature dropped and my calf began to pain more and more; I had to keep going; I was determined. And the crowd never stop cheering, screaming, shouting and whooping. I had to tell myself focus and not take what the crowd would offer to me: jelly babies, orange quarters; beer and wine. The fact people were supplying so much with a genuine concern for runners was truly amazing.
They don't tell you about the tunnels at any point but there are two. As soon as you enter a tunnel, as soon as the natural light departs and the noise of the crowd dampens, the collective mask of the marathon runners slips and a sense of fear appeared on a number of faces; mine included. I began to wonder what is wrong with me; I need to start thinking before doing. I guess I can safely say when an idea pops in my head; I literally run away with it. There were runners either pissing at the side (men and women), some crying and few just standing there; I wasn't sure whether they were taking it in or had the fear kicking in like myself. The tunnel is where I truly saw what's it really like to run a marathon. But it's not demoralising, it's heartening. I saw a much older runner sprinting past me, and beside me was a fit man roughly about my age gasping for breath. As I emerge from the darkness of the tunnel, and break into a healthy jog. The spectators are none the wiser.
I did it although I did not get the sub 5:30 time I wanted; I don't think I had ever felt so happy and free. As I crossed the finish line; I couldn't help but let the tears fall down my face with a smiles which reached my eyes; just as I was presented with my medal; I must also admit I'm gutted that they didn't have any finishers tops that fit me' I wear an XS and got given a L. And to top it off; volunteers are selling a S finisher tops on ebay for more than £90. Oh well; at least I have those memories and of course my medal.
If you have a moment; why not watch this little video on my journey: https://youtu.be/3st_usulYHw
check out how much I raised: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/PreenaDivecha
or watch this lovely little fundraising video courtesy of Virgin Money Giving: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4l380U298U
Did anyone else enter the 5 day ballot for 2016?
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