Emma's Berlin Marathon

"Oh Emma, are you mad? Why are you doing a marathon, you will end up with yet another injury." The words of Emma's mother.

"Oh Emma, are you mad? Why are you doing a marathon, you will end up with yet another injury." 

Emma in Berlin

These were the words muttered by my mother when I bounced into the kitchen and told her I had signed up to run the Berlin marathon. But it wasn't just mum, my entire family and many of my friends voiced the same concerns.

I got their point. A broken ankle, torn ligaments, twisted ankles and muscle strains are just some of the injuries I had managed to pick up whilst running - I'm not a natural runner but this made me more determined.

Yes, I am 35 but my mum's words kept echoing in my mind, "You will end up really hurting yourself if you are not careful." I explained why I was doing the marathon and she became a bit more supportive but continued to point out that I am prone to injury and perhaps a hike might be a better choice of challenge.

Not one to give up and even more determined to prove everyone wrong I started training. I did lots of research, looking into different training plans, nutrition etc so that I was armed with the right knowledge to get started.

Despite starting very slowly and understanding what I needed do to prevent injury I am ashamed to say I ended up getting Plantar Fasciitis, otherwise known as Policeman's Foot. The pain was debilitating and I really started to panic - would I be able to do enough training? How could it all go wrong so early on in my training?

The long and short of it was that I had all the information I needed but I didn't take note of all of it. Work was extremely busy so fitting in training was never easy - I'd make myself do the runs but didn't spend time warming up or stretching during my early training sessions. Please DON'T make my mistake.

After ending up with so many injuries I decided to do a few specialised personal training sessions. These helped so much - Maddy, my personal trainer, designed the sessions around my needs. The exercises helped strengthen my muscles to support me, when running. 

This together with the running-focused exercise sessions I found on YouTube, the hot yoga (a slightly cheaper alternative to the sports massage) I am pleased to say I completed it injury free. Whoop whoop!

So how was it...the mere 26.2 miles? I'd love to say it was a walk in the park but for me that was not the case. I hit so many walls during my longer training runs and I was really worried I wouldn't complete it.

I woke up the morning of the marathon raring to go but on the walk to the starting line I realised my iPod hadn't charged - eeeek how would I cope, music was my motivation, my drive but I only had about 1 hour worth of battery life. I'd need to save that until I really needed it.

I arrived at the start feeling very nervous, but fortunately had come over to case the start line out the day before. Much beyond that it was all a bit of a blur. I remember the butterflies in my stomach and loads of people around me - I was literally sandwiched between people.

Ready.....Steady.......Go.......I ran over the starting line. "Pace yourself, Pace yourself" I kept telling myself, this was all that kept running through my mind...well that and lots of other thoughts but I wont bore you with them.

The atmosphere was amazing. There was a real buzz, the crowds were fabulous and there were lots of different bands playing music on route, which certainly made up for my lack of charge on the iPod!

It was really nice to see some friendly faces on route encouraging me and cheering for me - it made me more aware of the crowd and spurred me on.

I found the second half hard. It was really hot and I was so incredibly thirsty...but I managed to keep running. I won't lie - there were points I felt like stopping, there were moments I struggled to catch my breath and every part of my body ached but every time I felt like stopping I thought of Dreams Come True - it was this that kept me going.

4 hours 21 mins later and I crossed the finish line with a sprint, motivated by the cold beer that was waiting for me the other side!!

I was a little sore the next day but no major pain. My sister-in-law, on the other hand, who had come to support me is still suffering with blisters from walking around Berlin to see me on the course, one month on (note to supporters, wear comfortable shoes)!

All in all, it was a fabulous experience. Yes, it was hard to fit in the training around work - the long runs, the stretching, the strengthening exercises and the nutrition. But it was worth every minute of it, knowing the money I raised will help more dreams come true.

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Author: Claire Smith

Date: 21/11/2014

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