Last blog from Naomi (for now!?)
On November 19th Naomi completed a massive challenge in her life by running the Valencia marathon! We have been blessed by her story so far and here she is once again to give us the details of the day .
Before she does, I must say that Naomi was a pleasure to support. She is such a dedicated and focused individual, who shared her goal and delivered wholeheartedly. The fact that Naomi completed her first ever marathon bang on her predicted time was impressive enough, but the mental strength she possesses is what REALLY blew my mind!
On Sunday the 19th November 2017 I ran my first Marathon. I had signed up for it almost a year ago, and it was always something in the future, far away and distant but as with everything, it came along soon enough. I have spent a year of ups and downs, learning so much about technique, pace and even about myself as a person. I have been lucky enough to have Emma there to guide me through and get the best out of me.
During the week leading up, I developed a strange paranoia of germs and people with colds. I started imagining little gremlin germs crawling all over people with little evil faces, trying to jump all over me, determined to make me ill for the weekend. I swapped tea for Lemsips, and if I could have got hold of a full protective anti-radiation suit, I would have worn it.
On the train to Valencia on the Friday I kept saying to myself: “I am ready, I have done everything in my power; there is nothing more I can do now, (but keep away from that sneezing man).”
On the day, the walk down to the start was a strange one. I was excited, very nervous and actually pretty bewildered! This is not something one does every day. I managed to calm myself down and pretend to be enjoying the sunrise, until we came across the 41km sign. The realization hit me the next time I saw that I would be (all being well) running past it, and I would be almost done. I started wondering how on Earth I would feel at that stage. There were thousands of runners milling around, large running groups doing their warm ups, the loud speakers booming out excited chatter which I´m sure had I understood it, would have been very motivational. After finding my section at the start, I waited for everyone to start moving. I’m glad I wasn’t waiting long because I could have worked myself up into a real state, and soon enough we started moving. I remember the feeling of my foot hitting the electronic start line and wondering how I’ll feel when it hits the other one.
As I got going I found my pace and settled into it. It felt like the entire race population was overtaking me, and surely I must be last by now given the amount of people rushing past. Huddles of people kept forming ahead of me and it was as if they were enticing me to speed up and join them. At this early stage I was so thankful for all I had learnt during training about my pace, and I knew I would blow it if I went too fast. It’s amazing how a pace can feel so slow at first, then seem much faster 20 miles later, and because I have experienced that many times and learnt the hard way, that knowledge became the perfect restraint.
The hours went by, I still managed to avoid the temptation of the huddles, although by the time I had reached the halfway point, running too fast was becoming much less of an issue. I was enjoying the incredible support from people lining the sides, hearing Spanish voices shouting my name and feeling like I wanted to go and hug them all. After a few attempts I managed to perfect my technique of drinking Powerade from a cup without pouring the whole lot over my face and down my front, and enjoyed looking forward to my gels wondering what flavour the next one would be (it’s the small things, when one runs for 4 plus hours the silly things become crucial)!
By the time I reached 35km my legs were crying. I was joined by some friends who ran a section with me which was a great distraction and very handy to be handed water and apricots every now and then.
As the pain set in, I noticed I was overtaking and actually recognized specific people who had rushed past me initially and now I was passing them. It was at this moment I knew I had followed the plan, and there was a very good reason for it. I had always known in my head, but to actually experience it was something else. I could have just legged it off the line at the beginning, but to be still feeling (fairly) strong at 37km was just incredible.
There in the distance was that 41km sign getting slowly nearer. It was only a few (well, about 5) hours ago that I had wondered whether I would make it past there.
By this point my legs were screaming and my back aching, but with 1 km to go it was in the bag. I just wanted to enjoy this moment – the atmosphere, the excitement and absolute euphoria of being moments away from one of the biggest achievements in my life. The moment I stepped on to the blue carpet, I knew that as soon as I turned the corner, I would see the end. As soon as it came into view, I thought “it’s all mine” and just legged it as fast as I could towards it.
My foot hit the electronic line at 4 hours, 16 minutes and 10 seconds. So there is it, the job was done. All that work and anticipation, the 10ks and half marathons I had done, the good runs and the bad and all those week days where I had to force myself out to run when I was so tired and didn´t feel like it. To think this all started with that Brutal 8K wading through freezing rivers and clambering up muddy mountains – what a great way to start! May I just give it up to Emma who has stuck with me for a year, being patient, giving me all the support I need, listening to my moaning when things got tough and just being the best supporter I could ask for. I could not have done it alone and I feel very privileged to have such an athlete on this journey with me. Also, I want to give it up to all runners in all our shapes, sizes and speeds. We who know what it is to experience the highs and lows. People who do get satisfaction of persevering through a run in freezing rain and hot sun (much to everyone else´s astonishment), we always have a goal and with hard work and dedication we can achieve our potential and even beyond. We all have different aims and run at different paces but we know that incredible feeling of determination, stubbornness and resolve during the hard times, and the elation, exhilaration and joy in triumph.