I am a record breaking world major marathoner. What’s your super power? On the 22 April 2018 I battled the heat to complete the hottest ever London Marathon and cross the finish line after 26.2 miles for the very first time. It wasn’t easy, but one lesson I have learned in life if that you should always chase your dreams, even if that means you chase them for 26.2miles.

So how does it feel to complete your first ever marathon? In all honesty, its exhausting! I’m still in disbelief that it even happened. Ten years of battling obesity, low self esteem and negative body image left me thinking that a marathon was one of these unobtainable pipe dreams, but thanks to my ASICS Frontrunner UK team mate Corey my dream was made a reality.

I trained with enthusiasm, determination and focus. Yes I had setbacks, but I dealt with these as positively as I could. After all, to train for a marathon is a privilege. I was so blessed to have a place in the London Marathon after the years of ballot disappointment, I had made a promise to myself that I would do my best to enjoy every second and I certainly did. Pushing myself to run further and further, achieve new goals and feel myself grow into a confident and somewhat accomplished runner has been an incredible gift and I’m so grateful not only to have had the experience of running the London Marathon, but to have been able to experience every high and low of the build up and post race comedown.

Race week came around quicker than I ever could have anticipated and before long I was collecting my number at the expo. Oh gosh this is really happening, I thought to myself. I loved the expo, I ate a lot of snacks and I got to catch up with my running friends. I went back on the Friday and had the most incredible day with Martha and Liv, which culminated with me discovering I had hidden nail art talents.

The Saturday before the marathon I was a bag of nerves and felt really unwell. Carb loading and resting didn’t agree with me and left me feeling sluggish. I was gutted to miss the ASICS X Jaybird hashrun but I needed some extra sleep and a chance to try deal with the nerves. On the morning of the 22 April I woke up as a runner, but that evening I went to bed as a marathoner.

The marathon morning was a bit surreal. I headed to Greenwich to meet Livvy (@thenutritiousrunner) and I’m so glad we got to share the start pen experience together, I would have been way too nervous on my own, and both of us were running our first marathon. As the heat built, we sat in the shade, both knowing we had a huge task ahead but hoping that we were only hours away from becoming marathoners. As the runners started to move forward I remember grabbing Livvy’s hand, we really were about to run the London Marathon.

After about a mile I pushed on, descending down into Woolwich- my London home. Reaching the Woolwich Ferry roundabout I knew the start zones were merging and I started looking for Martha. As I reached Plumstead Road, Woolwich, around mile two I was flying. This was my turf, this is where I ran on a weekly basis and this was my community. I felt emotional seeing all the communities of Woolwich coming together to support- in all honesty aside from the finish this was my favourite part of the marathon. As we headed into Charlton I realised I was beginning to feel very thirsty and started desperately searching for the water station. Finally I saw the volunteers waving the little bottles, I drank and I doused and I was on my way. Everything felt amazing, until I reached the Cutty Sark.

Six miles in the exhaustion of the heat hit me hard. I slowed and took on some energy blocks. When I reached Deptford I saw Anna (@annarunsmarathons) I was initially really confused, I hadn’t expected to see anyone I knew running, I was only looking out for people in the crowd and then to my horror I realised it was a Lucozade station with no water. Desperately I took some Lucozade, but with no water to cool myself with I knew I was in trouble. Soon my legs began to feel heavy and I had a bit of a cry. I had given my all to my training and I hadn’t even reached ten miles before I was forced to walk and send a desperate text message to my boyfriend saying I was struggling.

The next few miles were a blur, I desperately used my hydration powders and tried to focus on running in the shade. The crowd lifted me and I was running again, out of nowhere I rounded a corner and was suddenly faced with the looming figure of Tower Bridge. I crossed in tears, this was my dream and I was running it. I had almost made it to the half way point of the London Marathon. I was a half marathon from achieving what was once impossible.

Shortly after Tower Bridge I saw my boyfriend, Guy on the opposite side of the road. I felt a rush of energy as I frantically waved and blew kisses. But as I turned back to the task ahead I burst into tears once again, it would be another 9 or so miles before I saw Guy again, and I knew that I had a tough battle ahead. Knowing I was just over two hours in, I started searching through the faces of the runners on the opposite side of the road looking out for any of the FrontRunners. Then Matt came into view, I ran to the barrier screaming as he effortlessly sailed past, I remembered how his marathon finished in 2017 and felt inspired.

By this time I was struggling to hold my pace, my energy came and went in waves. I spotted Lotta ahead and fell in next to her matching her pace for a little while, however I soon felt zapped again. I made the decision to ease the pace some more. People began struggling around me, medics were rushing to help those who were slumping down on the sides of the road and I knew today wasn’t a day for heroics- I just wanted to cross that finish line safely and enjoy my run. The next miles were a blur. I have very little recollection of the Isle of Dogs, it was a bit like a drunken fuzzy memory, which I am guessing is due to the exhaustion I felt. I remember hearing Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Girls just wanna have fun’ and a feeling of pure happiness at one of the water stations when I realised they had a mist shower. I popped my headphones in for a bit and focussed on one foot in front of the other. In amongst the tiredness I kept having these flashes of ‘oh my gosh I am running the London Marathon’ and a huge huge smile crept across my tired face, I was living my dream. My mind began to wander and I started thinking of Liv, Martha, Anna and my Frontrunner team mates who were running, I really hoped they were ok in the heat. I looked at my watch and realised Corey would be up tracking me from her home in Florida. I fell in alongside another JDRF runner and together we ran/walked to mile 19, both feeling weary. Then in the crowd I spotted a banner saying ‘Go Livvy’ I stopped for a moment and then a voice went ‘are you Becca?’ it was Liv’s boyfriend Dom. I asked where she was and he said ‘she’s about twenty minutes behind you, she’s still going’ I felt a wave of relief, she was ok, we had this we were going to achieve our marathon dream.

As I headed back towards the Tower of London someone gave me an orange. Oh my word, after that I was a savage desperately hunting out any oranges on offer. I had a deal with myself, I’ll run until I find an orange then walk for a bit then run until I find my next orange. I felt like I was going crazy. My quads, hips and back were on fire. I was in so much pain, but I kept going.  Then I spotted another runner fundraising for the Royal Preston Hospital Critical Care Unit, as a Prestonian this felt really exciting. We chatted for a while and it really lifted me. I thought of my charity and all the people who had sponsored me. I thought of Corey and all the families (including mine) touched by type 1 diabetes. I thought of my aunt who passed away. I thought of my parents and friends watching at home and then I thought of Guy and realised I only had a mile until I would see him- after miles of slogging it out I ran a very speedy kilometre just looking for his face in the crowd, counting the metres.

Then he was there, his arms reaching over the barrier for me, putting a water bottle into my hand. My mother in law was there too, squeezing my hand and telling me how proud she was. I felt too exhausted to cry. Guy gave me a kiss then said ‘come on get going its just 3 and a bit more miles’ only a parkrun I thought to myself. I headed off, I was digging deep now dreaming of that medal. Soon I was running parallel to the river and I could see the London Eye, I knew Big Ben would come into sight soon. This felt tough, by now my hip flexors were screaming and I had adopted a run/walk tactic to combat the exhaustion and pain I felt. I spotted Carl in the crowd and ran over for a hug, ‘you can do this, you’re going to be a marathoner’ he told me and then I cried some more. I saw the JDRF support crew, they gave me some more orange. At this point all I could think of was oranges and the finish line. Then Big Ben came into view. I was 1km away on the opposite side of St James’ Park this was where I did my lunchtime runs. The finish couldn’t have felt further away, I was fighting with every fibre in my body, my legs screaming.

When I turned the corner by Buckingham Palace it was like the whole world went quiet. There was the finish, this really was it. The pain and exhaustion suddenly passed, I wasn’t aware of anything or anyone around me. My legs were fresh, the tears came, and I let them flow as I threw my arms to the sky and stepped onto the red mat of the finish line. I had done it, I had run the London Marathon, I had rised almost £1,300 for JDRF UK and to my delight I had finished in 4:40:06. My bronze goal had been to finish sub five hours.

As I walked up the Mall I saw some of the other JDRF runners who gave me a hug, I was still in floods of tears at this point. I kept looking at my medal in disbelief. I had my photo taken and began to drag my feet towards the bag drop- that felt like a whole other marathon. Trying to get out of the finish funnel and find Guy I really was cursing as to why we agreed to meet at meeting point ‘Y’ which seemed to be the furthest away. I could barely stand, Guy sat me in a camping chair and started feeding me pork pies.

I had done it. I was a world major marathoner, and I still had ten toenails.

Would I do it again? Yes, in a heartbeat. 

written by

Becca B

Envrionmental Research from London/Southport

Age group: 30 - 35
Club: Greenwich Tritons, Southport Strollers

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