Okay, so this post is about two months late, what can I say? I trained hard, raced hard, had a great time in London, arrived home and just got busy.
We’d been asked if we would like to stay with a host family while in London. Anyone who knows me, knows that I don’t really do people well, but I decided that despite my social issues, a host family was the way to go. It turned out to be very good decision! Terry and Sue Hollick, our British hosts were amazing! Terry picked us up at the airport, gave us invaluable guidance about public transportation, dropped us at the train station when it was raining, brought home fish and chips for dinner, introduced me to the Paddington movie and Paddington Station (I’ve loved Paddington Bear since childhood), and gave me the hugest Cadbury’s chocolate bar! Sue fixed us breakfast every morning, made lovely dinners complete with fabulous desserts, gave us a walking tour of the town, told us all about the best local shopping, emailed several times before our arrival, and just made us feel completely at home. They also gave a financial contribution to support me in the marathon. They are simply amazing people who did not just take two strangers into their home, they took in people from another country and treated us as family.
We arrived in London several days before the race so I could acclimate. We relaxed with our hosts, did a few light runs, visited the race expo and explored the local town. We had anticipated dreary weather but there was no rain except for race day, of course. It poured all night but had tapered off to a drizzle by daybreak. Expecting thick crowds, we left the house over two hours before the race began. The train started out empty but filled with racers and their family/friends at every stop until I wasn’t sure anyone else would fit. It was about a two-mile trek from the train station to the starting corral and the place where I had to say good-bye to James.
Initially I had planned to run with a pacer but I found out at the expo that I would not be able to. No worries though, I had my Garmin, my goal and a pace band to help keep me on track. Surprisingly, I was quite calm standing there alone waiting for the race to start. When I say alone, I mean alone among 38,000 strangers who were also running the London Marathon that morning. Training for 26.2 miles was brutal, but I can honestly say that the race was easy. I was well trained, bathed in prayer, fully supported by my family and friends and completely at peace. There was never a place during the race that I thought, “I can’t do this.” Many runners hit the proverbial “wall” at mile 20, I didn’t. I did however have to make a pit stop at mile 18. I really didn’t want to, and debated with myself for about 5 miles before I finally stopped. Technically the stop cost me about 3 minutes, but trying to run another 8 miles on a full bladder might have been my undoing.
The race support was phenomenal! Imagine a tailgate party that stretches for 26.2 miles and you have the London crowds. The cheering was so loud in some places that it literally drowned out the music on my iPod. Some spectators handed out candies, orange slices, even pizza; you could not help but smile. The marathon is touted as the world’s largest charity fund-raiser. It was inspiring to see all the athletes running for something bigger than themselves.
As is my running style, as soon as the finish line came into view, I began to sprint. Crossing the finish line, tears streamed down my face; I’d done it, actually run the London Marathon and done it well! I finished in 4 hours and 30 minutes, my target time, and in the upper 25% of the field, not too shabby for woman who broke her neck in 2011 and whose doctors weren’t sure she’d ever walk much less run again.
Becky J Miller
*A special thank you Jason and Holly Bollinger, Shawn and Julie Sullivan, Bob and Eileen Jayne, Impact Youth, Brandon and Jenifer Sanders, Mary Rushing, Josh and Melinda Whitley, Alan Pasquali, Autumn and Chris Cotten, Cyndi Sampson, Diana Sanchez, Lisa and Dan Ellis, Danielle Taylor, Lela and Dan Taylor, Mary Atwood, Bill & Jan Clark, Yesenia & Dale Voigt & Terry and Sue Hollick for your financial support of me and Links International.