We did it!
Laura and I walked into the crowds of runners just after 8am on Sunday morning, expectant but surprisingly calm. After ensuring we had everything necessary for the journey, and had disposed of our kit bags in the storage area, we were off to the start-line. The horn sounded and we were off! (Although it took 11 minutes for us to pass the start, it takes a while for 13,000 people to get going!)
Over the weeks of training I‘d set myself 5 targets I wanted to personally achieve:
1: Finish alive.
2: Run the entire distance, walking was not an option.
3: No stopping, for any reason.
4: Finish within 2 hours 45 minutes.
5: Average running time per Kilometre, less than 7 minutes.
1: I’m alive, I am writing this and there are photographs.
2: I ran all the way.
3: I did not stop at all, not even to take a drink, consume my energy gels or even have a pee.
4: Finished in 2 hours 39 minutes 13 seconds
5: Average running time per Kilometre – 6 minutes 59 seconds.
The first few miles were OK, although we were somewhat lulled into a false sense of security by the crowds, the excitement, and the wind behind us. We got to the turn, just outside Roedean School, then…reality check! The wind was now directly in our faces. Laura had organised our training well, this stretch was the route we’d run at 7am every Tuesday morning for over 10-weeks, I knew it well, what an amazing help that was!
Down the hill towards Palace Pier, the i360 observation-tower, and onwards to friends and family gathered on Hove lawns. What a cheer we got, what an inspiring view, seeing the banners, smiling faces, hearing our names, the chimes, all giving us a huge boost. But then came the long flat and windy stretch of seafront road towards Hove Lagoon, the hardest part of all, my mind just switched off. I honestly don’t remember much of this section, other than seeing Andie on her bike, still cheering! Then the final turn by the Lagoon, up onto the Promenade. Homeward once again, this was a route we’d run a lot in training, and the wind was at last behind us, pushing us along.
Because of my ataxia I can’t look up when running. If I do, I become very giddy, therefore I’m always looking for landmarks. I started ticking them off as we approached the finish-line…King Alfred Centre, Dave Gilmour’s house, The Grand Hotel, then finally there it was…Laura, as always, was encouraging me every step, shouting that I needed to keep my head up, chest back, opening up my stride and RUN!!
We had one last spurt of energy left and used it to try and beat 2hrs 40mins…we crossed the line, 2hours 39mins and 13seconds, we’d done it!
There was no tape to run through, thousands of previous runners had seen to that. But, we’d won our race, beaten our target and I had changed my life, by doing something I’d never believed possible just a few months earlier.
My journey to stop ataxia taking away the freedom I have, has begun. I’ve now got to work out what my next challenge will be!
I hope the support of the donations will make a difference in the long-run, not necessarily for me, but for the next generation affected by ataxia.