Carol Gough completed the London marathon last year, raising £2300 for Shaw Trust.
She shares with us how it felt to run the 26 miles.
I started to run about 13 years ago after my second son was born just as a way to keep fit and lose weight. I probably ran about 3 times a week, about 5 miles each time. Over the years, I did 3 half marathons but the dream was always to run the London Marathon, the biggest marathon in the world.
Every year I would watch the marathon on TV, loving the stories and the determination of the people that were interviewed. Every year, I wished I was there too but genuinely felt that as a Mum of two, working in my own business full time and a husband who worked shifts, I could not commit to the training.
In 2016, my sister ran the London Marathon and I went to London to support her. She is not by her own admission, a natural runner. I knew how hard she had found the training but she did it, and when she completed the marathon, she was elated. That was the point that I thought, I am going to do this, I am not getting any younger, so I signed up with Shaw Trust and got my place for 2017.
I decided to do a 16 week training plan which I downloaded from the internet and I just took each week as it came. I tried not to look too far ahead and just do what I had to do each day. My plan had me running 5 times a week. I did all my training early in the morning before I went to work, so I was getting up around 5.00am most days. As I was training on my own and in the dark, I always ran the same route so that my husband knew where I was.
It was very tough but somehow I did it and as each week passed, the mornings got lighter and the running easier. It really helped that each time I got a donation, it gave me a little boost. I loved how I felt after I had done a run and it really helped me mentally, by the time I got to work, I was raring to go. I am a dentist and I run my own practice so it can be very full on at times.
With the increase in mileage, I certainly had my fair share of aches and pains but luckily managed to avoid any serious injury. I don’t think I realised how much running would help my own mental health. Over the years, I have sponsored many friends and colleagues but never asked them to sponsor me, so I was very lucky when it came to fundraising, I just set up my JustGiving page, emailed it to friends and family, put it on Facebook and the donations came in. I think I did this three times in total and raised about £2300.
My husband, children and me headed up to London two days before the marathon. We were staying in a hotel that was close enough to walk to the start. My husband had made big flags with Shaw Trust and my name on them and he also gave some to my sister and friends who had come to support me.
On the day of the race, I was so excited and made sure I got everything ready as planned. Then my husband walked me to the start, though he didn’t come all the way. The excitement of seeing everyone converge to the starting area was amazing and the whole process very efficient. Before I knew it, I was in my starting pen and unbelievably, met three other runners for Shaw Trust.
I had hoped to run a sub 4 hour marathon, but it was so busy and never really cleared so I had to run it slower than I wanted but this meant that I really enjoyed my run. The atmosphere was incredible the whole way round. I knew where to look for my husband and boys, and also for the Shaw Trust support team on Tower Bridge. I didn’t hit the “wall” at any time but I was definitely happy to finish the race. I don’t think you can beat London for the atmosphere, it was brilliant. I finished in 4 hrs 20 mins and 5 seconds.
Thanks to forward planning, I found my husband and boys quite quickly afterwards and we knew where the hotel was for the after run reception held by Shaw Trust. They had arranged a lovely spread but the best bit was the shower and of course, a lovely massage.
To any one thinking of running the London Marathon, just do it, you aren’t getting any younger and you will surprise yourself by what you achieve. Train properly, eat properly, rest properly and enjoy your day.
For the record, I am still running several times a week but I don’t know if I will ever run the London Marathon again!