In this weeks blog, Stuart Brien shares his story of running in the London Marathon for Findacure, on Sunday 23rd April.
Well, the day finally arrived and I was up early and ready to go. A hearty breakfast of porridge and banana, and I was on my way to Greenwich to soak up the atmosphere.
We had worked out which trains I needed to take, but I needn’t have worried, it seemed everyone was going to the same place and it was just a case of following the crowds.
Talking to other people on the way, I got the feeling that my preparation had not been as thorough or scientifically worked out as it maybe should have been, but I was still feeling pretty good.
In Greenwich Park, the atmosphere was fantastic. The sun came out and everyone was smiling and getting excited for the start. Some I spoke to were running their first marathon, but others were running it for the 10th time or more.
The starting klaxon sounded and we were on our way, well the people at the front were on their way, we walked slowly forward and 30 minutes after the Kenyans etc began we eventually crossed the start line, meaning finishing first was going to be a tough ask.
My cunning plan was to start near the 5 hour pace setter and keep him behind me all the way to the finish, what could possibly go wrong? This plan was working perfectly for the first 300m, when I felt the desperate urge to go to the loo. I got back onto the course to see the 5 hour flag disappearing into the distance.
Gradually though, I reeled him in and kept going at a steady pace and settling into a good rhythm. The miles went past slowly and running partners came and went, including the odd rhino, a giant nurse and someone carrying an ironing board on his back.
My wonderful friends and family who had come down to support me were dotted around the course and it was great to hear them calling my name and having a big sweaty hug as I went past. They also had drinks and jelly babies, which helped keep the energy levels up.
At around 18 miles, I saw a group of my “fans” and was delighted to see Findacure’s own Libbie Read. I have known Libbie since she was a baby and have never seen her without a smile on her face. Today was no different, so she was treated to a sweaty hug with the rest of them.
At 22 miles, the pain really started to kick in and I started to struggle a bit. This is when the crowd really keeps you going. Kids offering jelly babies and jaffa cakes etc, as well as shouting your name to encourage you to keep going. Looking behind me, 5 hour man was nowhere to be seen, so I started walking a bit, big mistake.
I kept trying to run again, but the message from brain to feet was lost somewhere and it was hard to keep going, was this the infamous “wall” everyone fears? If it was, then the sight of 5 hour man going past me spurred me into action and I found a burst of energy from somewhere.
The mile markers were coming very slowly now and it was a relief to get to Big Ben and turn right towards the finishing line. Then, in front of me was the 1km marker. A check of my watch confirmed I had plenty of time. Another marker came into sight, this must be the 500m marker I thought to myself, but NO!!! 800m to go, surely that can’t be possible, the markers kept appearing very slowly until I crossed the finish line, I stopped my watch and nervously checked my time.
My aim was to finish in under 5 hours. Just like Roger Bannister all those years ago, the first number was all that mattered. Unlike him, I was really hoping to see the number 4.
And there it was………………………my time did start with a number 4 and I must admit, I got a little bit emotional. 4-58-30 was my actual time and it felt great that I had won my own personal battle with the course.
I received my medal, yes there were still some left when I got there, and made my way to Admiralty Arch where I was met by my wonderful family and friends, (more sweaty hugs).
After a shower and freshen up at the hotel, it was over to the restaurant where we had a table for 20 booked. I hadn’t realised how hungry I was and it was good to have a beer and get some calories back inside me.
As I write this, the day after the run, I am feeling surprisingly good. My thighs ache a bit, but once I get going I am not walking too badly. To be honest I am feeling quite proud of myself for getting under the 5 hours and that is what the London Marathon is all about. There were runners of all shapes and sizes, running for different reasons and trying their best to get round and achieve their own personal goal.
I was really happy to run for Findacure, a great little charity run by fantastic people and I know the money we raise will make a huge difference to them. If they have a charity place on offer next year, I would urge one of you to run it on their behalf. I have decided that I am now hanging up my running shoes and handing the baton to someone else, although I have just seen that the ballot for 2018 opens on May 1st, so I may just apply and see what happens.
So all in all, a fantastic weekend, topped off by the fact that my football team, Lincoln City, ended a wonderful season with promotion back into the football league. Carlsberg don’t do weekends, but if they did…
Thanks to all friends and family, I would never have managed it without you!!
We would like to say a massive thank you to Stuart for all of his hard work and to all his friends and family who supported him. Stuart has raised just over £3,000 for Findacure and we are so grateful for his efforts. We hope everyone will join us in congratulating him on his great achievement. If you would like to donate to Stuart, you can find his fundraising page here.