So only 8 days after London, I was back at the start of another 26.2 miles, this time, in my home town, Milton Keynes and with my original training partner and best friend Janice by my side. It had been 3 years since we had last marathoned together and to say we were excited and looking forward to this leg of the challenge was an understatement. I knew it was going to be very tough, not least because of Janice's strong pace, but also because I would be running on tired legs and still only 3 weeks after returning from an injury that had seen me side-lined for 2 months.
Luckily, I had the support of some excellent friends both on the start line of the race and on the course. Having suffered from a bad case of 'race envy' on seeing my London Marathon photos, Janice and I were unexpectedly joined at the event by Richard T (Little Rich), who decided to throw another half marathon into his training. After educating him on our pre race rituals (tea, mars bars and discussion about pain killers which in Janice's Scottish accent sounds like something from Trainspotting) we lined up race number 2.
I'm not going to lie to you, I found this marathon hard, both physically and psychology. It certainly helped for Janice and I to be amusing ourselves by repeatedly shouting and waving at Rich running the half and it certainly helped to see so many of our friends and family on the course.
Janice's daughter Claire was on hand to wave us off, my long suffering husband Tim and full race crew (mum, brother David, cousin Leanne and her partner and fellow marathon runner Wayne, Ali, Edinburgh marathon partner and her husband Ed with their two girls) all at mile 9 and then again at 18. My wonderful colleague Jo with her daughter cheering and waving just before the half way point was another big boost, but the award for the most appearances by one of our supporters has to go to Janice's husband Alan, who popped up taking photos about 10 times throughout the race.
Finally the prize for best mascot undoubtedly goes to our great friend Robyn, who not only came along to cheer us on at mile 17, but fashioned a rather fetching race T shirt for her puppy Dingo! I do distinctly remember telling Robyn that I was, at that point, dying one toe at a time - now post race, I can confirm I am still alive, but the toes have seen better days!
From mile 18, I had to dig deep. Everything was tired and I was aware of the weakness in the knee. So I did as I said I would do and focussed on my reason for doing this, my inspiration for getting me through the hard miles - my dad and the thousands of people like him who have suffered, battled and sometimes sadly lost the fight with bowel cancer. I kept thinking about a certain photo of dad that I used during my B&CR presentation. I kept thinking about the battle he had been through and how if he could face that with such courage and dignity, I could definitely get through the last few miles. It was that and the support of my wonderful friend Janice that drove me forward and got me across the finish line. Alright I was limping a bit from the blisters and it wasn't quite as quick as I would have liked (4:27) but I finished. 4 weeks ago I couldn't run because of injury and here I was, having completed 2 marathons in 8 days.
My highlights of the day, despite the pain, the mental battle and the heat; having my mum at the finish line of a marathon for the first time, receiving my medal from my wonderful sister in law Sian, who had volunteered to be part of the race crew purely so that she could give me my medal and of course, running another marathon with my very best friend Janice. As if that wasn't enough, it was really nice of the MK Dons to upgrade their stadium (our finish line) to a Championship ground just the day before our race! Thanks guys we appreciate the sentiment.......although we'd prefer to be classified Premier League ;)