The most amazing day of my life.
The day started at 05:30 with a bang on the hotel door to wake me up, kettle on for breakfast cup of porridge and a banana and a cup of tea. Opened the curtains to a glorious morning blue skies and the sun out, after the recent weather this was a welcome bonus, nothing worse than getting wet and cold waiting to start a race, once the race is on it does not matter as proved latter in the day.
Left hotel at 06:20 for 5 minute walk to Victoria tube station with my big red virgin marathon race day bag, you would have thought I was going for a week with what I put in that bag. Had to wait 10 minutes for the tube to open waited with other marathon runners the buzz and excitement was making the day very real. I got the tube and made my way to Lime House Station on the DLR as I stepped off the train I met Dawn Walton in the flesh for the very first time it was like I had known her for years and not a first meeting it was all very natural. We had about 10 minutes then Becca Jones arrived Team Thinking Slimmer all together for the very first time.
We arrive at Greenwich Park walked up the steep hill that got the blood pumping this massive park awaited a massive television screen thousands of runners milling around the line of trucks all ready to take our bags to the finish this was the point I had trained hard for, all those cold hard training runs the good days the really bad days all come down to this point the build up is just as important as the race for me its part of the overall race day experience. We decided its time to put our bags on the truck and think about getting to our start area pen 9 at the back.
We made our way to pen 9 got in a decent place so not right at the back, the buzz was amazing everyone so friendly had a chat with a couple of runners. 09:45 and the start for us, 22 minutes later we cross the start line and off we go to say I was elated would be a massive understatement after a few minutes we see the first of the crowd and as far as the eye could see many thousand marathon runners in front of us. I had been given loads of advice about the crowds and I really thought it was over hyped, how wrong I was from the start to the finish it never ended the cheering the crowd calling our names. We run pretty much on one side and the kids were standing there still shouting and holding their hands out. If they could still be doing that to us near the back of the field the least I could do was high five them back I did this for the for pretty much the whole way. They deserved every high five and my hope is these kids will be inspired by 37,000 runners running past them to take up an active lifestyle and change the image of the computer culture of today.
The first 6 miles were just so much fun I was having to slow down, them pesky kids with there hands out just made me go a little faster!!!! I loved it. we had reached the point were Dawn was starting to fall behind a little we had made our plans and pacts beforehand so that there would be no guilt no worries no bad thoughts, we double checked with Dawn that it was the right time and off we went. Dawn you are the bravest person I know taking on the best part of 20 miles on your own I know you were geared up and all your training was running alone even so very very brave.
Becca and I push on it seemed we were running a little faster we certainly felt the pace a little nothing silly just a little puffed out,looking at the Garmin we clearly did not have a that much of a spurt. We are feeling really great the crowds are still amazing we reach mile 11 and much to Becca's shock she really does need the loo something she has never had to do in a run before I take advantage silly not to.
The next 4 miles are great we have a steady pace no point catching up for lost time that will haunt us at the end think 26.2 miles not miles 12 and 13. We get to mile 16 Becca need's to walk she is just starting to feel her calf's getting tight, I am relieved and tell Becca that I am struggling with mine and that walking and running will now be good because that is what I always did in training and I always got to rthe end of my training run. I think Becca was relived when I told her this we could still do this. Then to my shear horror the worst thing ever starts to happen my left calf gets worse not better, Becca mentions the St Johns crews what a brilliant idea a quick leg massage might help that's mile 17 ruined we start again with instructions walk long strides heal to toe see how it goes,we do this I try and jog slowly I struggle for another mile Becca spots another St John's Station I give Becca the option of carrying on I know that I cannot run/jog any more, straight away she says no we agreed we would start and finish together and that's what we are going to do.
We stop and I get treatment on my calf I have never screamed moaned or tensed up so much in my life. My Marathon running was over it was power walking all the way now. I have a little cry of frustration because of my calf and because Becca's chance is also gone. So you all know I would have done exactly the same thing and got Becca to the end if the roles were reversed. I felt sorry for myself and Becca for about half a mile then I snap out of it. Plan B look after injury and get to the finish in one piece, think how far you have come in 15 months lets get real finishing the greatest marathon in the world is the goal always has been never was a time mentioned therefore we/I have not failed.
I struggle to keep up with Becca's power walk pace we have a chat I tell Becca that I am a naturally slow walker and that she must keep the pace up my calf does not hurt whist walking so we are good to push on and make the finish line and history. The weather takes a turn for the worse around 23 miles we pass a drinks station and get plastic poncho's to keep us a little dry the wind has whipped up bottles and rubbish swirling around lucky we go through a tunnel and we put the poncho's on this was not an easy task thank you again Becca The crowds are still out in the rain shouting our names and encouraging us on, I never heard one bad comment from the crowd only encouragement to not give up and keep going, they know their stuff .
We reach the 385 yards to go sign we agree to walk to the bend then jog in like the conquering heroes we are we just start running and on the corner on our right hand side is Sandra and Chris from Thinking Slimmer they weren't supposed to be there meeting point J was the plan the sheer joy of seeing them is amazing for Becca and myself hugs and kisses all round and off we go to cross the finish together in 6:27:41 Darin McCloud Marathon Runner. This will take some time to sink in but I will get used to it. We collect our medals and goodie bag we go through and get our baggage and go into horse guards parade we head to our meeting point Becca see's Mr J and gets the hug she deserves I get a hug from Mr J too. We then see the remarkable Dawn sitting down she had made it and not only that finished before us, for me I'm so glad that Dawn had finish before us Team Thinking Slimmer all within 6 mins 30 seconds.
This is the link to my Garmin for the Marathon http://connect.garmin.com/activity/171361887
This is the link to Becca's blog http://fromsnickerstomarathon.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/virgin-london-marathon-2012.html?spref=fb
This is the link to Dawns blog http://www.themoiderer.com/blog/2012/04/virgin-london-marathon-2012done.html
Whilst this was a day of personal triumph of never giving up of having a race strategy and adapting to events as they happened, It was with extreme sadness that one of us did not make it home. My deepest respect goes to Claire Squires and my thoughts are with her Family I am amazed by how much people from all over the world have paid tribute by giving to her Charity this must be such a massive comfort to her family. If you read my blog and have not sponsored anyone for this years Marathon please please give to Claire's just giving page this is the link http://www.justgiving.com/Claire-Squires2
RIP CLAIRE SQUIRES