For those of you who own calendars, you will no doubt question why it has taken me over a week to get around to writing about the marathon. I have an excuse and I will get on to it later in the post. And no, it doesn't involve having a note from my mum!
It is a cliche, but really nothing can prepare you for the experience of running the London Marathon. Training meant that I finished, but you cannot replicate the atmosphere. From the tens of thousands of runners nervously pacing around the start area to the hundreds of thousands of spectators, some of whom presumably had no voice by the time they went home, everyone played a part in the spectacle. There were points where the wall of sound was deafening and really drove the runners, me included, to push themselves just that little bit further or faster.
When I applied, I was conservative about my finish time, so wrote down a time I thought I could achieve of three and a half hours. Of course, what I should have done, was write down a wildly ambitious finish time. I say that not because I have suddenly become an Olympic hopeful, but because it seemed like everyone else did. In my classroom, I am endlessly telling students that they don't have to follow the flock, but I spent the first half of the marathon slightly frustrated with myself as I dodged and weaved around slower runners. The overtaking continued throughout the whole of the 26 miles and I only really felt that I was going backwards as I came down The Mall towards the finish. To put it into context, in the last 7km of the race, I passed 488 other runners and was passed by just 14.
When I did finish, the first thing I remember is my phone buzzing with a text from Australia to tell me what a good time I'd done. This was before I'd had a chance to stop my watch and look at it myself. The runner tracker on the website clearly did a great job. Three hours and 20 minutes for a first step into the unknown proved to me that I could do it. While it sounds like a long time to keep running, it was actually not unbearably painful, despite the official photos showing my pained expression. In fact, I really enjoyed the day and at mile 20 was wondering whether to do it all again next year.
In the aftermath of the run, I wandered in a daze through the finish zone, was bemused as the luggage lorry guys gave me a round of applause and dragged myself to the Refuge reception on Pall Mall which included a massage soothing enough that I nearly fell asleep on the couch. I did manage to get a good photo though.
The ballot for 2014 opened today. I'm really tempted to go around again.
Except for my excuse.
We've been undergoing the preparations and making applications for adoption over the last 15 months. Everything has happened at once, so last Monday, rather than put my feet up and take it easy, I met my children for the first time. We've had a week of spending days with them both at their foster carers and with us at home. Today was our day for reflection, hence my first opportunity to write anything. Tomorrow morning we'll drive to the foster carers for the last time, pick the children up and bring them home.
This will obviously have a bit of an impact on our lives, so I'm not sure how much of a blog I can keep up. However, even if I don't, I know that I can be proud of the project to raise money and awareness for Refuge. There is still money trickling in, and the odd pattern sale going through, but my current total is around £3500. To put it into context, that's around £1.50 for each woman and child that Refuge helps in a day. My challenge to you is to go out and do something, anything, big or small to make a difference to those in need.