I'll get right to it - together we managed to raise £2 200 (and hoping to double that by way of a donation match that my company offers!) for Sands. Thanking everyone from the bottom of my heart who supported us and gave what they could - every little bit has totaled into something that is a good, substantial amount, and I am thrilled.
5 things I learnt from doing my first real run race:
1) It is a fuckload harder to run on a treadmill.
All throughout training for this thing, I worried that I wasn't fit enough or doing enough of the right stuff. I was wrong.
I'm going to sound like a wanker now, but I'm only saying it because it's true: the race was a piece of piss.
Treadmills are boring. Suddenly running through the streets of central London, everything changes. I ran through Piccadilly Circus and probably for the first time, actually liked it, (no wall of tourists or stressful, "where the fuck am I how do I get out of here" moments). Plus, we had Regents Street and Pall Mall, Big Ben, all to ourselves.
I now know my training technique definitely worked. And it's a mixture of teaching my lungs to stretch to their limits; and doing this over a long period of time.
I never ran on a flat setting, I ran uphill on the treadmill. I was laughed at, but hey, it fucking worked, didn't it?
I did a few 6-7 kilometre runs uphill every few days, and I mostly did HIIT.
Where you sprint until your lungs just about burst and then walk it off. Repeat for 45 minutes.
So if there's one thing I learnt? I may be carrying a few extra pounds, but I am the fittest I have ever been.
2) It was the most satisfying thing I have done in ages
I cried, and I reveled in the noises, crowds and other 25 000 runners ahead of me and behind me. It was wonderful having the Brit run right beside me all the way. It was wonderful to know that even at the finish line, we could've kept on going.
We saw other runners racing for Sands, one family in front of us had a little sign attached to their shirts that said, "For Ava." That got me very tearful. Why had we forgotten to put a sign saying "For molly" on ours? What a massive, stupid oversight. It's the one time I can proudly parade around with my daughter's name literally attached to my shirt, and we didn't do it.
It was emotional. We were running sometimes with tears down our cheeks. I felt close to my daughter, but also close to the cause, and all the other little babies who were meant to be in our world but aren't.
I saw the Sands crowd at Parliament Square egging us on, and I burst into tears. Sobbing while running isn't ideal, for one you sound like you're actually having a heart attack, and it's loud and wheezy, and as luck would have it, the marathon camera people took about three pictures of me with my Crying Face.
Definitely not one for the wall, lemmetellya.
But to run and do something you're a little bit afraid of, that takes a lot of work and preparation to do, and to do it for a cause and memory of something that means a lot to you, really is the most satisfying thing.
3) You feel like you are really part of something
All moving along together, in your various charity shirts, you realise that there are a lot of charities in this world for a lot of different things. Which gets you wondering why someone has chosen a particular one, they must have a story.
Everyone is running for their story. Maybe a relative died of cancer, maybe they have fought cancer themselves. But it's so inspiring to be a part of something, where you are all doing and running for a purpose, together.
Medalz. One for Kanye's jewellery box?
4) I respect the non-athletic types the most
And the guy running with a fridge taped to his, for all 10 kilometres, I don't know what your story is, but kudos for that. I mean, fuck.
Races that aren't half-marathons, Ironmans and so forth bring out a splendid mixture of diverse body types, ages and running styles. For the grandad slowly chugging along, to the ginormous woman who was huffing and puffing it up the hills, to those with various ailments - they suffer way more doing this, and yet still fucking do it, despite the fact that they all find it difficult to move.
My utmost respect.
5) It's a bug. I get it.
It makes you want to do more.
The moment we finished, the Brit and I turned to each other and said, "I could totally do another!"
We had barely crossed the finish line, and hadn't stopped hyperventilating, enough to know we would do more.
It's got me thinking, "Fuck. Maybe I should do something more challenging. A half marathon. Yes. That's next."
So, watch this space. It may even happen next time. Even if it is double the distance.
The one thing that drives me a little bit berserk, and my one disappointment here is the fact that we did the race in 1 hour and 1 minute.
I mean, for all the nerve. Had I known we were over by 60 seconds, I would've upped my pace much sooner to the end. I would've felt pretty chuffed if I'd done it in the hour like I'd wanted.
But hey, there's always next time......
A shout out to my mum and Rolf, and my Best Irish Gay friend and his partner.
My folks, while in the Eastern Cape, did a 10 kilometre walk of their own all along the beach at Kenton, in memory of Molly, while we ran.
They even created their own signage.
This really warmed my heart.
My Best Irish Friend and his lovely partner, came to babysit Sebby for us while we ran, suitably bribing him with snacks and toys, then meeting us near the finish for a picnic and mimosas in St James' Park.
So grateful for friends like these.