39 year old Sarah Johnston, a medical writer from Edinburgh took on the challenge of running the iconic London Marathon for the first time this year. Here she tells us how she got on!
Almost a week on since I completed the London Marathon and I’m only now coming down from the high! If you helped me smash my £2,000 target by sponsoring me, eating doughnuts, or even just some moral support during my training and the run itself, thank you so much!
So many people told me that the training was the hard work and the marathon was the victory lap. They said that the crowds would get me through the six miles that I hadn't trained for and in all honesty, I was a bit dubious! Having not run in almost 10 years I really thought I’d struggle mentally and physically to finish and that the last few miles would be a hard slog and mental torture! But people really do know what they are talking about. I genuinely loved it!
I loved the fact that people were shouting my name even before I had completed 100m. I loved the cacophony of noise from supporters and residents of Greenwich shouting down from their balconies encouraging us all on. I loved trying to search the crowd for relatives and friends and reading all the signs destined to make you smile and encourage you on. Before I even really realised I was running, I had passed the 10k mark. The crowd then only got louder and louder.
I had brought headphones but I didn't need to listen to them, I was so distracted by the different bands and looking at the costumes of the runners around me. There was a triumphant moment when I managed to overtake the man running the marathon in ski boots as an official world record attempt. To keep me grounded I was then over taken by Big Ben (who you may have seen coming into difficulty when trying to get under the finish line!).
When I hit Tower Bridge at half way, I realised I wasn't going to make my planned time unless I got my head down and ploughed on, but I wasn’t interested in doing that at all. This was the only time I was going to run the London Marathon, so I decided to enjoy it without the pressure of time. And if I needed to walk to take pressure off my sore hips I did, I chatted to runners next to me, took some selfies and I read all the messages of support from my friends that were constantly pinging through on my Fitbit. I stopped to hug my friend who had come along to support me about mile 20. My husband was waiting at mile 23 and it gave me a huge boost to see him, get our photo taken together and then I knew it wasn't far to go.
As much as I was loving the experience, when I got to Buckingham palace I was very glad to see the finish line. As I got closer the realisation that I had done it, all those months of training were behind me and I hadn't let my sponsors down, I burst into tears. I didn't realise that the cameras were streaming the finish line on iPlayer so had no idea all my friends and family watching at home could see me crossing the line in tears!
I did it. I got the medal and the t shirt and lost a couple of toenails in the process. Everyone I met asks me that same thing, would I do it again? And every time my answer is a little bit different. I think for me this was a once in a lifetime experience and I’m so grateful to the Lawscot Foundation for giving me the opportunity to run for them!
You can still donate via Sarah's Virgin Money Giving page.