Earlier in April thousands of people ran the London Marathon. On TV a documentary was aired on how running can help with mental health issues. Watching the Mind Over Marathon, and watching the coverage of the London Marathon and seeing so many people run 26.2 miles got me thinking about the first marathon I ever ran. In 2013 I took to the streets of Berlin and started to run. I wrote about it then, but so much time has passed I wanted to write about it again because how I got there was very, very strange…
1. I won an adidas twitter competition four weeks’ before the Berlin marathon in 2013.
2. Until then I had only run 10k.
3. Until then it never occurred to me that the world was full of people so positive that they couldn’t run a marathon. My body wasn’t ready but my mind was. I knew to the very fibre of my being that I could do this. I didn’t care about how long it took or if I walked for parts. I would keep moving to the finish line and I would cross it.
4. I didn’t realise until I was there that Berlin marathon was one of the World Marathon Majors and that me running it was a Big Deal.
5. I had a delicious meal of basil pesto pasta the night before at the expo when I picked up my bib.
6. My family couldn’t come but I went with a really good friend of mine. I loved having her there even though now I haven’t spoken to her in about 4 years – basically after we came back from Berlin (being called a flake makes you realise that some people aren’t worth it).
7. I tied my hair up in a low ponytail. No idea why I didn’t plat it – that pony tail came undone more than once.
8. Passing the sign which read ‘kilometre 1’ was the most demoralising thing which has ever happened to me.
9. At the first roundabout and green space we passed I saw people squatting and pooing. Since seeing that not much can shock me anymore.
10. As the kilometres and miles passed by I couldn’t believe I was still going. There were times when I was walked because I couldn’t believe my body was still doing this.
11. I didn’t listen to music – I still don’t – and have no idea what I did to distract myself.
12. I was convinced I’d wet myself. While running I tried to stealthy feel between my legs. All I felt was sweat and was sure I now had pee and sweat on my hands.
13. To check I went into one of the portaloos at about 13 miles. That was my first and sadly not last time in a portaloo. I hadn’t wet myself and didn’t realise until too late that there wasn’t a tap for me to wash my hands.
14. There were firemen along the route hosing people down and I washed my hands there.
15. I wore a cotton vest top and even with all the Vaseline all over the place I had some horrific armpit chaffing wounds.
16. With 13k left I passed a sign saying ‘only 13k left until beer’. It really spurned me on.
17. My bib had my name on it and when two young women called my name and pronounced it correctly I thought I was going to weep.
18. The finish was at the Brandenburger Tor and I remember seeing it and starting to sprint.
19. I burst into tears when I crossed the finish line and called my sister back home in London. She was so worried when she heard me sobbing but they were happy tears, really happy tears. That moment in time I’d never been prouder of myself.
20. After getting my medal I had that beer. It was non-alcoholic and I couldn’t finish it. I then had a chocolate croissant and finished that.
It was one of the best days of my life and looking back on it makes me want to run another marathon…maybe.