ONE DAY IN MAY
10th May 1987. The day my husband and I ran theLondon Marathon. For 5 months it had taken over our lives and now the day hadarrived. It started at 5am with toast and coffee. Everything had been packedthe night before for a quick getaway.
By 6am we had met up with 20 of our running clubfriends and we were making our way to Waterloo Station. Half of us were to goto the Blackheath start and half, including me, to Greenwich Park where we wereamong the first to arrive. It was a beautiful morning, ideal for running.Slowly the Park filled with runners and you could feel the excitement rising.
At 8.30am, with one hour to go, it was time toput on the Vaseline, pin on my number and put on my black plastic bin bag. Iwished everyone good luck and with butterflies in my stomach, my friends and Imade our way to the start. As I stood listening to "Chariots of Fire"over the loudspeakers I hoped that the months of training had been enough tosee me over the next 26 miles.
Suddenly the chimes of Big Ben rang out, thecannon boomed - and we were off! Well, almost. It took us 4 minutes to walk tothe Start. Then, with a cheery wave to the cameras, we started to run.
Crowds of people lined the roads cheering us on.We ran side by side with Noddy, Superman and even Bernie Clifton and"Ostrich". At 3 miles we converged with the Blackheath starters: itwas like meeting old friends, each cheering the other on.
The first landmark, at 6 miles, was the CuttySark - a memorable sight - and then on to Tower Bridge resplendent in the sun.The crowds seemed hundreds deep, all cheering and waving. We had run 12 miles.The first half had seemed easy with no problems, but now ahead was the longhaul around the Isle of Dogs.
The crowds disappeared and all you could hearwas the plodding of feet on tarmac and the huffing and puffing of fellowrunners. We carried steadily on looking out for the arches of balloons whichmeant another mile had passed.
At 17 miles I started to feel tired and sloweddown but urged my friends, who were still feeling strong, to go on ahead. Igently jogged my way through 18, 19 and 20 miles. With the street bands echoingin my ears it was getting harder and harder to keep going, my legs were gettingheavy and I had to concentrate to push myself on. We were now coming backtowards Tower Bridge and the crowds were thickening again.
At 22 miles I was still running! Only 4 miles togo - but I was so tired - and then, around the corner came the famous cobbles.They were my downfall. So hard to run on even with the carpet. I had to stopand walk. Never mind, all was not lost.
Eventually with legs like lead and a superhumaneffort, I started off again but was so tired that it didn't last long. Idecided that if I was to get to the finish I would have to walk and then jogfor a while. The crowds became a blur. Every time I stopped to walk I couldhear them egging me on. I wanted them all to go away and let me suffer alone.
At Hungerford Bridge I saw my friends. To theirquestion "was I alright?" I put on a brave smile and replied"yes, I'm doing fine". I was starting to feel better now and withonly 2 miles to go I felt I was going to make it.
Down the Mall towards Buckingham Palace, thenround the corner into the last mile. The longest mile I have ever run. I couldhear the loudspeakers slowly getting louder. When was I ever going to get tothe Finish? There was Big Ben ahead and, finally, Westminster Bridge. I hadmade it! In 4 hours 10 minutes. I had run the London Marathon.
With tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat -and very sore legs - I collected my medal.
After the noise of the crowds, the silence wasuncanny with bodies stretched out everywhere recovering from their efforts. Imade my way to Jubilee Gardens where I met up with all my friends.Congratulations all round. Everyone had done well. My husband, Derek, hadfinished in 3hrs 4minutes. After a well deserved drink and something to eat weall drifted home, tired and sore but happy. The elation lasted for daysafterwards. The London Marathon was an experience I shall never forget.