We arrived at Bournemouth football club at 7:30 ish and parked in the directors spot (that’s how we roll) and I felt the sudden urge to write “we don’t care about you” on one of the stands (Saints fans will get this) but thought better of it…..that and I didn’t have a pen. We walked to the athletics stadium and met up with several other Hedgies (the collective term for members of the running club…..well it is better than gaggle) all equally as apprehensive as each other. We just missed the start of the half marathon race so got a cup of tea and just tried to keep calm. As 10am got closer, the nerves seemed to go up a notch with each minute, people all around me starting to de-robe and put their running tops on. Mark (a fellow Hedgie) commented how when he used to play football he used to come out of the dressing room topless and not put his shirt on until after the warm up, thankfully recognised that this was cringe worthy and resisted repeating this at the race. The time came to walk to our starting pens, saying good luck to other hedgies as we split into our various sections. It seemed an eternity waiting here but thankfully the “ladies wot run” were waiting with us too and filled the time with tales of how women do fake squats or lunges to disguise having a wee…..I felt violated but funny all the same.
The pens in front of us had been released and we finally got the call to go. The nerves had gone, game face time! We started and it felt just like another long training run, with 4 of us from Hedge End running together. Matt told me not to look at my watch for the first 3 miles and elbowed me after he caught me having a sneaky look! The support from the crowd was amazing, people lining the streets and stood in their doorways cheering and clapping. Marky, a new Hedgie was running for McMillan charity was getting cheers and his named called out all the way round, was brilliant to hear. Mile 3 and I was allowed to look at my watch and we soon realised we were going quicker than we planned, by about a minute a mile but felt good so continued. This momentum carried on until mile 15 where I got cramp in my right calf. The thought of running another 11 miles like this was horrible and I nearly stopped but kept going with the determination that I had come so far and there was no way I was not crossing that finish line.
In addition to the 22 runners we had from the club we also had a massive (and very loud) support crew, and whenever we saw them the noise they made spurred me on. Mile by mile seemed to take forever now as the legs got heavier and thoughts of stopping again set in….I had a wristband made with a message on dedicated to a friend that helped me so much with diet and gave encouragement whenever I needed it, and more importantly, believed in me (your turn soon!) I kept looking at this band and just thought “keep moving”. The way the course was set up with loop backs, we saw other hedgies throughout the course which again added to the encouragement and the need to keep moving.
Marky caught up with me and stayed with me from mile 20 ish which was a massive help (thanks mate). On the route towards Poole, Sarah (who must have had rocket fuel for breakfast) passed us on the loop back, when I saw her I nearly cried, I was in pain, she looked in pain too but managed a high 5 and a keep going. Miles 21-25 seemed to take hours, and with each step it was becoming tougher to move, with aches and cramps appearing on muscles I didnt even know existed. We got to mile 25 and could see the finish point, the feeling now was that we were going to do this! The finish funnel appeared and I could see the band of hedgies cheering and going nuts,
Sarah and I, with medals. Worth it.
Harder than actually running! We met up with other finishers from Hedge End, hugs all round and was holding it together until I saw Sarah, big hug and tears from both as she apologised for leaving me (which I told her was fine!!) and the realisation well and truly sank in, we had just run a marathon. We are lucky in our club for having a great lot of support from each other and a comradery that I have never experienced in all my time playing other sports but today, it was another level, friendships were strengthened and I can’t wait to run with these guys and girls again.