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I couldn’t sleep on Saturday night. Not sure why. I wasn’t even running in the morning. But I slept just like I have before any big race…not very well. I had panic dreams about not waking up on time and a dream about Tower Bridge being closed meaning I couldn’t get my car and all its stuff to Surrey Quays where our cheering station was.

We had 12 ladies from our online running club taking part in the 26.2 run around London, but many more from our wider community, and other friends…people tend to tell me they are running London because they know I’ve done it before.

Anyway, I woke on time and myself and one of our members Marina loaded the car and got to our spot nice and early. We set up and then one by one our cheerers came and joined us.

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The start of the London Marathon can feel quite eery, everyone up early waiting around for the wheel chair athletes, the para athletes and then the elites…but then the masses come through at a rate you wouldn’t believe.

The first couple of thousand of club runners seem just as fast as the elites in my opinion, very few have their names on their vest…and we didn’t even bother holding out sweets at this point, because athletes of this caliber surely don’t fuel them selves with haribo and maow wams.

Then the fun bit starts.

The bit where you get to shout random names out with phrases like

Looking good John, looking good

and

You have got this Susan

It is great fun.

The longer the race goes on, the more the runners appreciate you being there and now the athletes are looking for sweets and a bit of moral support.

I had a list of my runners and a general idea of how long it would take them to run, but you never quite know what will happen on the day.

18057711_1237335709717377_918031948936400597_nFirst through was Phyllida Swift a lovely young lady I know from my speaking world who joined The Clubhouse just before Christmas when she started to up her training. Phyl looked fresh as a daisy when she reached us, and after a quick hug was on her way….5.13.54 is an awesome time for a first marathon in my books.

This morning she says,

Trying to get down the stairs on the tube just now was HELL!!! Thanks for all your support and love Julie, it made such a difference and I couldn’t have done it without you and all the TFTR lot. I had the best (and also worst in some parts) day ever!!!! Xxx

Then through came Dianne Macinnes, who managed to bag an awesome sub 5 hour marathon finishing in 4.59.53…she was so fast I’m not even sure we got a picture. Dianne has trained so consistently. Last year I ran the Glasgow 10K with her and she was still wondering how she would ever make it up to marathon distance…well now she knows.

This morning she says,

I’m alive and rather tired!! Still hasn’t sunk in that I did it!!!!

We missed Marika Rauscher who managed a 6.05.05 finish, passing in a big block of runners at speed and then slowing in the final miles we think.

It was something I’ve always dreamed of doing. Running the London Marathon on my 40th Birthday!! Dreams do come true, with a sprinkle of determination an a good dose of hard work. I ran slower than I’d hoped but I am still flying high! It was the biggest street/birthday party ever!

18057995_10155161927604882_4076763968778363490_nThen came the phenomenon that is Liza Vallence.

I have known Liza for more than 20 years professionally, and since becoming a Clubhouse Member she has become one of our biggest advocates. With a huge number of barriers to overcome with her running (including a degenerative bone disorder) I have been in awe watching her training.

She finished in 5.55.59 telling us this morning that she struggled with stomach cramps towards the end, with a “To fart or not to fart” dilemma to deal with.

The two helens, Helen Grieves and Helen Lines were just 10 minutes apart with finishing times of 6.18.24 and 6.28.16 respectively. Both stopped to soak up the atmosphere of the cheer station.

Helen Lines said this morning,

The VLM was one of the hardest and most rewarding experiences of my life. It gave me the opportunity to do something I never thought possible…believe in myself! Before the day the support & advice from the Clubhouse ladies was absolutely invaluable and looking forward to the cheer station on the course kept me going!!

Helen Grieves said,

Ran way more then 26.2 miles. I will never forget when the confetti cannon popped over my head at the TFTR cheering station – the people around me looked so confused.

2 years from not being able to run 100m,to finishing 3 marathons not bad hey?

18057679_10155161928514882_6967893465896482639_nKaren Smith came past and thought she could get away without giving me a hug, so I chased her down the road and literally swept her off her feet.

She finished in a fabulous 6.46.49She finished in a fabulous 6.46.49

Thank you so much ladies for the cheering station. It was so lovely so see you all. My feet really did fly at the point when Julie came out to hug me. She lifted me up and twirled me around so my feet left the ground. I haven’t been twirled like that since I was a five year old.

18121685_10210567257232471_633420436544218744_oKatharina Schmid came past at an astounding rate. she is our resident marathon power walker from Germany.

She finished in 6.54.35 WALKING!!!!!!!

I would like to say a big fat THANK YOU to all of the cheering station ladies (you really made me smile) and the virtual cheering ladies. THANK YOU!

Jeanette Box was next, she looked fabulous with a massive grin on her face…soaking up the support of the cheer station. The race didn’t go to plan and she finished slower than she would have liked in 7.24.59

Not according to plan but had a great day thanks to the cheer station awesome. Have medal and collateral damage but very tired and happy Look at my stats can eat anything for at least a week xx

Next up we had double trouble with Becky Harris and Rita Williams…and there were hugs all round. Times for these ladies were 7.00.19 and 7.54.33…so, so proud.

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Then came the woman who gets “runner of the race” if ever there was such a thing. Sharon Littlejohn…who is actually my assistant in The Clubhouse who deals with all merchandise orders.18056938_10158874168465019_8979008492486346397_n

Something had clearly gone wrong as she had a massive hole in her running leggings. Apparently she had taken a fall at mile 5 trying to kick a bottle out of the way.

So she lost some time and was a bit shaken up but she carried on to finish in 7.48.08…what an incredible achievement, when many would have called it a day at this point.

This morning Sharon is feeling upbeat about it all,

What a day, nothing went to plan, but it was amazing.

Then we were waiting for just one more of our ladies to come through…it wasn’t long before she did. Trudi Johnson with a pal and a massive smile on her face was so pleased to see us.

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The sweeper bus had gone past a few minutes before so we knew they had a big task ahead to stay motivated as everything gets cleaned up around them

She posted last night….

I’m a DNF (Did not finish) – my legs went again not long after we’d seen you ( had already had one St. John’s stop) and finally threw in the towel at the mile 14 St. John’s station. Had an awesome day though, even if I’m going to pay for it for a while, will def try again for next time!!

This morning she said,

I was so determined to reach you guys it was untrue!! Thank you so much (and for the pictures!) for being there, you had a harder day than we did I think !!

Deciding to call it a day is a massive decision, one you never take lightly, but Trudi is a great example of listening to your body and just knowing when is the right time.

There will be hundreds of people who will have had to stop for one reason or another. We saw plenty of faster runners move off the street onto the pavement at mile 10 making phone calls to loved ones to say they had had enough.

This morning I am feeling exhausted and slightly envious of all of my ladies who got to the start line. It is awe inspiring to see what they have achieved.

They will have inspired many of the women in my community to consider it for themselves and had an impact on spectators around the course that saw them living their dream.

When you can barely run to the top of the road running a marathon feels impossible. But we all have to start somewhere. Its literally a matter of taking it one distance at a time. 5K, 10K, half marathon, 20 miler…and before you know it you are a hero with a medal round your neck and some missing toenails.

I loved manning the Too Fat to Run cheering station yesterday as it summed up exactly what our community is about. Friendship, inspiration, sisterhood and fun…Helen below was doing great for time but wanted to hang out and speak to us at the cheering station, it shows what the club means to people.

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To sample what it feels like yourself why not join our online running club, The Clubhouse or one of our shorter term online training programmes which are actually on sale today.

Jo Murray, a participant in our Scream if you want to Run Faster course ran the Marathon yesterday and finished in a brilliant time of 5 hours 22…which is a 22 minute improvement from last year.

I will be putting myself in for the ballot for 2018 (will you???), and I can’t wait to see who puts themselves forward to join our Too Fat to Run marathon team next year.

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