ONE DAY IN MAY
10th May 1987. The day my husband and I ran the London Marathon. For 5 months it had taken over our lives and now the day had arrived. It started at 5am with toast and coffee. Everything had been packed the night before for a quick getaway.
By 6am we had met up with 20 of our running club friends 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 were among 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 to put on the Vaseline, pin on my number and put on my black plastic bin bag. I wished everyone good luck and with butterflies in my stomach, my friends and I made 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 to see me over the next 26 miles.
Suddenly the chimes of Big Ben rang out, the cannon boomed - and we were off! Well, almost. It took us 4 minutes to walk to the 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: it was like meeting old friends, each cheering the other on.
The first landmark, at 6 miles, was the Cutty Sark - 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 long haul around the Isle of Dogs.
The crowds disappeared and all you could hear was the plodding of feet on tarmac and the huffing and puffing of fellow runners. We carried steadily on looking out for the arches of balloons which meant another mile had passed.
At 17 miles I started to feel tired and slowed down but urged my friends, who were still feeling strong, to go on ahead. I gently jogged my way through 18, 19 and 20 miles. With the street bands echoing in my ears it was getting harder and harder to keep going, my legs were getting heavy and I had to concentrate to push myself on. We were now coming back towards 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 stop and walk. Never mind, all was not lost.
Eventually with legs like lead and a super human effort, I started off again but was so tired that it didn't last long. I decided that if I was to get to the finish I would have to walk and then jog for a while. The crowds became a blur. Every time I stopped to walk I could hear them egging me on. I wanted them all to go away and let me suffer alone.
At Hungerford Bridge I saw my friends. To their question "was I alright?" I put on a brave smile and replied "yes, I'm doing fine". I was starting to feel better now and with only 2 miles to go I felt I was going to make it.
Down the Mall towards Buckingham Palace, then round the corner into the last mile. The longest mile I have ever run. I could hear the loudspeakers slowly getting louder. When was I ever going to get to the Finish? There was Big Ben ahead and, finally, Westminster Bridge. I had made 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 was uncanny with bodies stretched out everywhere recovering from their efforts. I made my way to Jubilee Gardens where I met up with all my friends. Congratulations all round. Everyone had done well. My husband, Derek, had finished in 3hrs 4minutes. After a well deserved drink and something to eat we all drifted home, tired and sore but happy. The elation lasted for days afterwards. The London Marathon was an experience I shall never forget.