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I did it!

17 April 2014 by Claire Ramsay

“I felt an excitement I haven’t felt in a long time… I was a part of something really special, camaraderie was at a high”

What a great Sunday for British sport, Lewis Hamilton wins the Bahrain Grand Prix, Oxford wins the Boat Race (I’m always biased towards them for some reason!) and Claire Ramsay wins (oh sorry not wins, damn!) finishes the Brighton Marathon in under five hours.

Claire-medalIn fact in four hours, forty three minutes and thirty five seconds so precisely sixteen minutes and twenty five seconds under five hours, but who’s counting? Me that’s who! I’m counting and I did it! YEAH! GO ME! Ok promise I’ll stop showing off in a second, just one more YES I’M AMAZING! …ok that’s it, done!

So of course (it being me and all) I had a little bout of tonsillitis the week of the Marathon, so was taking antibiotics on race day. What excellent preparation to have your body incapable of moving without wanting to cry let alone being able to go for a run. So I didn’t run for a week and a half before, all the books say rest and do absolutely nothing the week before, oh hang on no they don’t, they say taper, but not taper to the point of trying to have a lie down at every opportunity and watch CBeebies with your children all week.

But anyway I got better, helped by a newfound determination that I was not going to be ill for the Marathon, ie I was drinking everything in sight (no alcohol though I was very good!) and forcing all food past my giant tonsils. I really got into the carb loading thing three days before, pasta for breakfast lunch and dinner, yes please, happy days, I love pasta. Well at least I did, I now of course never want to eat or see pasta again, enter an Italian restaurant, meet anyone Italian, or go to Italy (bit of a shame I already know I’m having spaghetti bolognaise at the weekend on a hen do, already feeling a bit sick at the thought).

"I was too scared, emotional, excited, and obviously full of pasta"

Anyway night before the before the big day I obviously couldn’t sleep, I was too scared, emotional, excited, and obviously full of pasta, so a bit more great preparation for the run of my life. But as soon as I said goodbye to my husband and children and set off to Preston Park where the race was due to start, I felt an excitement I haven’t felt in a long time, there were hundreds of people walking to the park, I was a part of something really special, camaraderie was at a high. I almost didn’t even feel like I was about to run for 26.2 miles, it was a really crazy party atmosphere at the start line, people chatting, cheering, laughing. I spent a good ten minutes fussing with my armband, should it go on my left or right arm to put my phone in (several changes and bashing into people whilst taking it on and off later I opted for left). Where was I putting my sports gels? Was I carrying my water bottle? Etc etc and then GO you’re off, WHAT? NOW?! But I’m not ready! I’m screaming inside my head, oh no the armband should have gone on my right arm but now I haven’t got time to change it, people were having fun a second ago and now you want us to run for 26.2 miles are you insane?

So I set off, do I give Paula Radcliffe a high five as I pass the start line? Obviously spend far too much time stressing about it and then it’s too late. Epic fail to high five the greatest female runner of all-time (better check my stats on that but anyway she’s really good!) The first eight miles were incredible, my injured leg hurt a little, but not too bad, everyone is running together and I’m really feeling a part of something truly amazing, the crowd is so supportive.

I manage to see my husband and little girls twice waiting for me along the way and I stop to give them all a kiss, then I see two friends who are also running at different points and it all gives me such a boost. By mile seven I’ve forgotten I was ever injured, but then suddenly mile eight seems like it’s taking ages to get to, have they changed the distance? Where’s that massive fluorescent sign with the big 8 on it? Maybe I’ve missed it? No it just turns out the adrenaline had evaporated/vanished/sweated out of me and suddenly we were running up a hill (away from the finish line, why?) and there were fewer spectators and various areas of my body were killing me.

Then a couple of miles of pain later I reach mile ten. This is mile ten, and we still have to run “ANOTHER SIXTEEN AND A BIT MILES? ARE YOU JOKING ME?” screamed my inner monologue. But I carried on, running/hobbling on until seventeen miles when I knew I had to stop and walk for a bit, started running again and saw some of my lovely friends waiting for me at mile eighteen and I was pumped again, yes I can do this! But then the course took us away from the finish line again, why do they keep doing this?

"From eighteen to twenty three miles I had to dig deep, really deep"

Then to add insult to injury they have these bits of the course where you can see all those incredible runners who have already run the bit of the course that us lot are struggling with now and are on the home straight (obviously I was so chuffed for them to be on their way home to victory, food, a lie down and most importantly an alcoholic drink). So from eighteen to twenty three miles I had to dig deep, really deep, I didn’t know my body had such depths; there was walking, trudging, limping, moving and bits of what some might deem to be running. I was now drinking whatever I was given, my water and gel routine was out the window; “give me anything I’ll consume it” screamed my body.

"The rest of the day was spent in a haze of elation, pride, amazement and above all else in so much pain"

But what kept me going for those next five miles was quite honestly all the other runners around me, doing an incredible job, inspirational people, some dressed up, most were running for their own charities just like me, people saying to me “Come on you can do it!” Until that point it had seemed like an impossible dream but all of a sudden I had reached twenty five miles (R.E.M’s classic running track “Everybody Hurts” was playing, why had it chosen to come on then?) and I knew it was possible, I was going to finish the Brighton Marathon for Carers UK, just like I promised when I signed up at the end of October and I was going to do my mum proud. I’m going to run the whole of the last mile and a bit, no stopping, I’m going to do it, I can see the finish line…and as quickly as it had started it was over. I was in floods of tears, I’d finished, I couldn’t walk, I didn’t know where I was going, what I was doing, people were handing me a medal, a t shirt, a bag, a banana (modeled in the picture with me and my shiny new medal) and I just dropped to the floor at the side on some grass and couldn’t believe what I’d achieved. The rest of the day was spent in a haze of elation, pride, amazement and above all else in so much pain.

"I’m still on a massive high"

It’s been four days since this all happened and I’m still on a massive high, I can’t walk, I’m crawling up the stairs, my toenail is about to fall off, I have weird marks on various parts of my anatomy but I don’t care, the most important thing is I set out what I aimed to do which was raise lots of money (which at the time of writing was £1445) for Carers UK. I set out to run a Marathon as a testament to my brilliant and hard working mum who has spent many years as a carer for my Nan. And as an added bonus, whilst doing all of the above, this stay at home mum achieved something that made herself truly proud, and I couldn’t have asked for a better finish to my Brighton Marathon experience running for Carers UK.

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