This is it, all those hours of running will get you to the end, that was my last thought as I left the hotel. The day hadn’t started off very well, only I could stay in a hotel which didn’t have any porridge, thankfully second choice of fried egg sandwich was on the menu.
All those hours of running and days of carb loading were about to be put to the test, I’d received an overwhelming number of messages of support leading up to the day so mentally I was ready to take on the challenge of completing my first marathon.
Nervous toilet stop out of the way, next challenge was to find the only hoop doing the run, “Naz”, came the shout as I made my way to the starting pen, I breathed a sigh of relief, I really didn’t fancy doing the run on my own. “Right then, we can do this”, that was the last thing Lisa and I said to each other before we had the 10 second count down and we were off.
The pre run talk of ‘taking it easy’ and ‘not going off too quickly’ didn’t go to plan, within a couple of miles we settled into our routine of putting the world to right, it wasn’t long before the pre run hydrating had caught up with us both so after a quick pit stop we were back on our way.
Support along the way was as expected, lots of shouts and encouragement, we even managed to get a “C’mon Sunderland”, naturally I corrected them with a short sharp, “It’s Hoops”.
Halfway point came and went without any issues, only point of note was a gentlemen of the orient variety running in his flip flops, so much for paying out a fortune on expensive trainers.
Around mile 18 the course loops back on itself and takes you through the grounds of a manor house, this was for me the hardest section of the race and the one where I struggled the most. I wasn’t alone; we passed two ladies one of who had totally lost the will to carry on, her running partner was having none of it and did her best to dissuade her from giving up.
We were soon back on the road and I got back to enjoying myself, this section of the course had lots of people cheering and shouting, my most memorable shout came from a very unlikely source. A little girl no older than 4 was sat by the roadside and came out with words that will stay with me for ever, “you can do it and you will do it”, I’m not going to lie, I welled up.
Before long we’d reached the 20 mile mark, “two park runs, that’s all we’ve got left”, by this time my legs had started to cramp up, what we needed was another boost. Mile 23 came the shout that provided that boost, “park run to go saltwell, it’s no different to running your Gateshead park run”, it was exactly what we needed.
Mile 24 I cramped up and had to slow right down, I told Lisa to carry on, I’d come too far to stop now and wasn’t going to let this stop me, thankfully cramp came and went so I slowly made my way back and caught up her, “Hiya”.
Then it came, the second shout that will stay with me for ever, somewhere in the region of 20 ish runners/supporters from the North East, “HOOPS!!!!, C’mon Saltwell”. I am not going to lie, I welled up again, Lisa ended up struggling to breathe fighting back the tears meanwhile I cramped up again.
The shout was enough for both of us to up our pace and race to the finish line, and there it was the finish line, arms raised we crossed together with the biggest smiles.
It’s a sensation that’s up there with the birth of my kids, what an experience, to top it off both Lisa and I had managed to complete our first Marathon in less than 4 ½ hours without stopping.
I owe a lot of gratitude to many individuals; I’m not going to mention any names but you know who you are, most of all to Lisa for being bullied into doing the Marathon and then going on to take part and completing it with me.