Week 53: The Grand Finale

Saturday December 31st

I can distinctly remember the moment at which the severe lack of foresight at the half way stage really kicked in. It was around mile 16 and the squad of 10 half marathoners are just  settling into their stride. It dawned on me that the energy was running out of my legs and that it would inevitably only get worse. It feels you’ve just slipped into a pair of tight jeans and are still trying to run. The bounce goes from your step, ground contact becomes sluggish and effortful. I get a stiffness starting in my right knee which crawls up my hamstring into my hip. The sensation is completely psycho-somatic. Confidence drains away. You go from offence to defence, challenge to survival.

Screenshot 2017-01-24 21.24.44.pngThe Grand Finale had finally arrived. The second I mentioned a full marathon to Matt Sealby he leapt at the idea and he would join me for the full 42km from Bristol-Bath-Bristol. Tom Reed joined us for the first half down to Bath. My preparation for 42.2km was much like my preparation for 21.1km, just eat as much as physically possible. The first half marathon felt great, the pace was relaxed and we chatted all the way. Tom departed as we passed his house after which Matty reimg_6163minded me how glad I was that Tom was there to protect me from Matt’s pace! Arriving in Bath I felt energised and excited at meeting the group ready to join us back to Bath. At this point what I should have done was glug a litre or so of water, chin a can of coke and start eating sweets whilst grabbing another litre of water for the road. We did none of these things. What we did do was have a flat white. Idiotic is an understatement.

The group at Bath was fresh faced, keen and img_6166ready to go. Matty and I were joined by Louise
and Chilli  (keen runners, first time half marathoners), Chantelle (building for London marathon, first time meet up through the charity), Ed McD (endurance athlete at heart, sprinter in physiology) with Sam (week 17) alongside on a bike.  Earlier that morning Ellie and Attie (both paediatric doctors at the Children’s Hospital) had set off to complete the route ahead of us with a 2 hour head start. Also running remotely was Tash in London who I met some 14 years ago just after leaving school.

She got in touch to tell me that she’d love to complete a half in London to support the cause. Across the pond in New York City Louise’s friend Sadia completed a distance PB of
11.5km as well. My mum and dad even headed out to do a 10km walk in the wind and rain of Yorkshire. The response to The Grand Finale was just amazing.

We headed out from Bath Spa station straight onto the screenshot-2017-01-24-21-30-00cycle path back to Bristol. While my wealth of experience this year hadn’t taught me to fuel appropriately, it did provide the insight that I was in pretty deep shit for the next 2 hours! Chilcott Junior and Senior both came to the rescue in quick succession. In the early signs of exhaustion Simon leant me his camelback full of water and Peter rode alongside us feeding me coca-cola. We came off the cycle path at Bitton where Dave Frayne joined us. The route was far from scenic as we trudged through city back towards home. Ed went missing, deep in The Pain Cave he found one pace which was decidedly faster than mine! We picked Parky up along the way for the final push. I planned a small diversion at the end to take us by the BT Tower. On so many occasions this year it has been a beacon of home to me. A place where I love to be. As we clambered up the dirt track with the tower on our right we surpassed the marathon mark. The last 800m back to the house were surreal. Regretfully I cannot elaborate on any distinct emotion really sticks in my mind. Relief I think. Maybe a tinge of sadness. Writing this I don’t think I’ve ever thought deeply about the magnitude of what I’ve achieved on personal level. I think I owe it to myself to. When I departed from Temple Meads this morning my fundraising page read £13,300. By the end of the day that total would hit £16,000.

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