London Marathon blog: I made it!!!

Worksop Guardian Content Editor Debbie Sansom with her London Marathon finishers medal  (w120425-1)
Worksop Guardian Content Editor Debbie Sansom with her London Marathon finishers medal (w120425-1)

FINALLY I can say ‘I’ve run a marathon’. And here’s the shocker, I actually enjoyed it.

Saturday night a car full of Sansoms travelled down to Shepherds Bush to catch the tube to Covent Garden where we were holed up in a Travelodge for the evening.

Despite being racked with nerves I managed to sleep through until 5.45am when I was suddenly wide awake.

My mum joined me for breakfast early, the stodgiest porridge I’ve ever seen, it was more like cement- perfect for before a marathon.

Dad then joined me and walked me to train station at 7.15am.

The streets were all but deserved except for a handful of athletic types carrying red London Marathon kit bags and looking confident.

As we cut through Covent Garden the journey reminded me of when my dad and I went to the church on the way to my wedding.

I was beside myself with nerves and almost in tears, and dad was on a schedule that was being run with military precision.

In fact I had no worries that I wouldn’t get where I had to be, and no worries my folks wouldn’t spot me on the course.

My dad was a man with a plan.

Leaving me at the station with words of how proud everyone was of me, I was directed to platform two.

From here on in we were herded like cattle to the Greenwich red start.

The sun was shining, the place was buzzing and there were people, athletes, everywhere. I soon got chatting to a lady called Nance who was running for PB in memory of her father.

She sounded like she’d been plagued with injury and a sore ankle but was aiming to make it round in four hours 30. A target I later read she hit when I looked her up online.

We spent the next hour preparing ourselves discussing training, diet, why we were running, eating bananas and going joining the 30 minute queue for the loos.

After dropping off our kit bags we parted ways and headed for our pens. I was in pen nine with those runners aiming for over six hours.

A man on a speaker announced we were off and thirty minutes later we’d walked to the start line.

I felt like I’d already had quite a busy day, and we’d only just begun.

Back at the hotel my supporters saw the start on the TV, enjoyed their full English breakfasts and then split up to head for various points around the course.

I’d heard the start was downhill so I began by checking my pace and if anything going slower than my target.

Happily just six miles in I spotted my first supporters, my friend Kay and her boyfriend jumping up and down waving. I was so surprised to see them I dashed over and gave them a high five.

There was so much to see on the way round the course and so many people shouting my name, that the whole race is almost a blur. But the things I remember most clearly are the moments I spotted friends and family.

At mile 11, jumping up and down, I saw my husband Dave, my parents and brother and his fiancee. I dashed over for a high five and to collect a gel pack and I was off swiftly off again.

Throughout the course of the race I saw them twice more, as well as seeing my auntie and uncle four times and my friends Sarah and Charlotte.

At the half way mark racing by on the opposite side of the road were the runners who were a massive nine miles ahead of a me.

A few were staggering and some looked in agony but most were a blur of colour as they stormed up the hill in the opposite direction. I was determined to be one of the ones still running when I was back here.

By the time I reached that point having been round Canary Wharf, thankfully I was still feeling good. The sweeper van was on the other side picking up the blue line (a line marking the course) and collecting those runners in need of help.

By mile 20 any cries from the sidelines of ‘oggy oggy oggy’ were met with silence as runners, and a lot of walkers, dug in and just tried to get round that last six miles.

I’d gone from high-fiving and waving at supporters to gritting my teeth and grinning. I’d got no energy left to veer off course for hellos and claps.

For me this was where the race was truly going to start. I knew I could run 20 but could I run six more?

Well the answer is yes I could, with a massive grin on my face too.

The whole thing was brilliant. Yes it hurt, but I knew it wouldn’t last. Once I knew I was an hour from the finish I was on a big countdown.

I did have one scary thought at mile 22 where I realised if I stopped I wouldn’t have done a marathon.

I’d have run 22 miles, which isn’t what I was sponsored to do.

So thinking of all those folks willing me on I kept going. Big Ben came into view and I knew the finish line was on its way.

On Birdcage Walk my family, now joined by my brother-in-law and four more friends, were leaping about and yelling ‘run run run’ at me.

And I did, all the way to the finish line.

The heavens opened and the rain lashed down and as I ran under a big sign saying ‘last 800 metres’ I thought of all those years at secondary school that I spent dreading running 800 metres in PE.

Crossing the line and having my medal put on was the icing on the cake. My watch registered 5 hours and 30 which was about what I expected, and my official time was 5.39.

An assortment of friends and family met me under the letters ‘NO’ after I rang them and told them I wasn’t walking all the way to ‘S’.

Dave gave me a massive hug and that’s when I realised all my muscles, even in my arms, felt bruised.

Since then I’ve struggled with stairs and my big toe nail is loose, but am happy to say after a few days I am back to normal.

I’ve booked a posh afternoon tea on Saturday to celebrate, which will be a welcome change from a three hour run and a nap.

If anyone is debating running a marathon I can’t recommend it enough. I’ve never worked so hard for anything in my life and it was worth every minute.

A big bunch of flowers met me when I returned to work and money is still trickling in to my sponsor page.

So far we’re at over £3,300 so a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has contributed.

Happy Running folks

Debbie Sansom

www.justgiving.com/Debbie-Sansom .