Following on from my last blog I wanted to explain what happened in the Paris Marathon.
Me, my cousin, my dad, my sister and my brother in law travelled down to Paris on Friday 1st April (no that isn't an April fool) haha via Eurostar with a short stop off in London where we offered our Friday prayers.
We then arrived at London Kings Cross and I was excited to be getting on the train to Paris. We got on the train and I was getting frustrated with the lack of wifi but who doesn't find that frustrating. I found it amazing how we can enter a tunnel and within a matter of minutes be in a totally different country.
Once we arrived in Paris we went straight to our hotel, out to eat and then back to the hotel. It was amazing to know that we had now arrived in Paris and I was really looking forward to the race day on the Sunday.
On the Saturday morning we had to wake up early as we needed to get to the exhibition and get the race number. We had finally got the race number and I was really excited to see what was included in the rest of the expedition. We got the race bag. My cousin even managed to get one even though he wasn't running (typical) haha.
I was really impressed with the expedition but one of the things that impressed me the most was that our names were on the wall with good luck messages. It felt a bit surreal to see my name up on the wall saying good luck when I was only one of a possible 50 odd thousand runners. I also got to meet some amazing people who have been running for Mind for a long time. I have spoken to a few of them on Facebook for around 2 years so it was lovely to spend some time with them and finally get to meet them.
Later that evening my cousin, my dad and I went out to eat at Dominos Pizza. However only once we got there I felt like I had no appetite whatsoever. I found this strange because I didn't feel nervous but I felt like I had to eat something in order to feel strong for the next day and have some energy for the marathon so I had some cheesy bread
During the night I felt unwell and began to vomit and I was struggling to sleep too. Despite this I was really determined to try and least attempt the marathon. I felt like I owed this to everyone who had put faith in me, supported me and sponsored me. However I really felt like it just wasn't going to happen and I had negative thoughts in my mind. My body was feeling weak before the race even started but I was really determined to do my best and try.
After travelling on the metro, we finally got to the start line at the Champs Elysees. I thought it was incredible that I was in the starting pen and I saw loads of other runners from all over the world. Some were from Gambia, Spain, Brazil, UK, America and other different countries and they all untied on the streets of Paris solely to run the marathon. It was such an amazing sight and I even managed to speak with some of them. For some of them it was their first marathon and they seemed to be looking forward to it.
As we walked towards the starting line the music was blaring and the atmosphere was very noisy as we had some great support at the starting line. The race got started and only a few jogs in, I was beginning to feel pain and negative thoughts were swirling around in my head but I was quite determined to try the best I possibly can. As I put one foot in front of the other time after time, I was beginning to think about where the sign for the first mile was. I couldn't see it for ages and it felt like such a long time before I reached the first mile. I kept wondering if this is how I am thinking on the first mile then how an earth will I cope with 26.2 miles.
The first mile eventually came but the negative thoughts were still there and I found that I was really beginning to struggle but I didn't want to give up and somehow at that point I was still jogging and one foot was going in front of the other.
I then got to the 4th mile where there was our first drinks station and rather then just take a bottle of water and carry on, I ended up completely stopping and I guess now in hindsight it was a sign that it wasn't going to be my day. I still carried on but now I was getting to the point where I was stopping and starting and I couldn't believe that it was happening as early as this. I kind of expected to happen around half way at around 13 miles like what happened when I did the London Marathon a couple of years earlier.
I struggled like this until the 8th mile and things were getting even more difficult. By now I was mainly walking as there was pain in body and it is like I was trying but my body wouldn't let me do the things that I wanted it to do. As I was continuing to walk I saw another group of people who were walking and stopped with them to have a drink of water. 2 of us got left behind, myself and another lady called Lisa. Both of us were in exactly the same situation and I tried my best to encourage myself and encourage her saying we could walk the rest of the way if we had to even though in hindsight that may not have been a good idea. I really wanted to carry on but it felt like my body wouldn't let either of us so we both decided this is the end of the road for our marathon in Paris.
I remember the feeling after I realised I wasn't going to finish it. It was devastating and I felt like an utter failure. I kept thinking of the time when Paula Radcliffe didn't finish in the Olympics and I imagine she felt exactly the same as me except she had hundreds if not millions watching around the globe so the pressure on her was probably a lot more. I felt like I had let a lot of people down especially the people who had sponsored me and put so much faith in me to run the marathon.
Myself and Lisa well Lisa mainly tried to flag down a taxi for a while but the taxis were not stopping. We ended up asking a French couple advice about where the nearest taxi rank is. They were so lovely and ended up taking us to the underground station which was approximately 1km away but seemed like a lot longer. The feeling of devastation however was still there and I felt defeated.
I then got on the metro with Lisa and made my way to see the rest of my family apart from my dad who was still running. I met them at a Subway near the Eifel Tower. I was still devastated and gutted that I felt that all the training and hard work before hand didn't pay off and that is what the frustrating thing was for me.
We then made our way to the finishing line to watch my dad finish but it felt like a bittersweet moment. I was really happy that he got a time of 5 hours 17 minutes but I was sad that I wouldn't be crossing that finishing line. I even saw Andy and another Lisa (Runners who were running for Mind too that I met the previous day) and told them what happened. They were both incredibly supportive which gave me comfort but didn't help ease the feeling of disappointment that I had within me at that time. I was still so tired that I went back to the hotel with my dad and got some rest.
The following day was the day to go home. At Gard De Nourde (the Eurostar station in Paris) there were lots of people heading back home who ran the previous day. I was happy that they managed to complete it but as they were telling their stories, my own sadness was still there. Nevertheless apart from the marathon day itself, I had a great time in Paris spending it with loved ones and finally getting to meet members of the Mind Facebook group after speaking with a lot of them for about 2 years.
Once I got home I the messages on Facebook asking how it went and I think people were wondering as I refrained from putting a status of Facebook as I didn't want to tell people that I didn't complete it and that I had let them down. In hindsight now maybe I should have because the majority of people who sponsored asked so I had to tell them anyway.
I knew the Manchester marathon was the week after as some people from Lancashire Red Rose Road runners (the club who I run with) were going to do it and I did have an idea that I could use that to try again. However it was only when a fellow member called Helen messaged me on Facebook asking if I would like to do it after what happened in Paris did I have the real conviction to say yes. We checked if there was spaces left which there were and all I had to do was go down and register on the Saturday which was the day before the run. My transport for the day was sorted as Helen advised that we could go with Lancashire Red Rose Runners on the minibus so all I had to do was register.
My dad took me down to Manchester the day before the race so we could register and get my race number, I still can't believe I only managed to get the race number the day before. I think it is the latest that I have ever got a race number but I was excited to have been given a second chance but equally as afraid that what happened in Paris could possibly happen again. I kept thinking of an incident of Paula Radcliffe. Either 2 weeks or 2 months after she was unable t finish the marathon in the Olympics she won Gold at the Chicago marathon and I just thought that is what champions and winners do. They get up and they go again and I decided that I wanted to be a champion and I wanted to be a winner so I took that comfort from this and used it to encourage me. Don't get me wrong I didn't think I would win the marathon by coming first, I thought I could win the marathon just by finishing it.
If you want to find out whether or not I finished it, you will have to look out for my next blog post which I hope to update soon. I think this blog is now too long haha.
Thanks for reading guys.