London Marathon Reflections
As part of my Edinburgh University Placements this Summer I had a placement in the Community this was with a district Nursing department in NHS Lothian. This placement was particularly inspirational, so much so that it inspired me to lace up my trainers and train for the world renowned London Marathon race. I had signed up to this as I had personally experienced others nearest and dearest go through terminal illness. The race started in Greenwich and ended up in Buckingham Palace and the finish line was located in Pall Mall. A race that was promising to be one in a class of its own. The London Marathon certainly did not disappoint! It was a truly exciting and thrilling race with spectators cheering you on what seemed like every meter of the race route!
This experience which was inspired by my Nursing placements has allowed me to raise £2,881 for Marie Curie. An eye watering amount of money that will help to provide the essential care and services provided by the charity that are a hope in the darkest moments to many! This charity provides care and support for patients and families going through terminal illness. My Marathon journey took me through 4 months of training and previously to this, I had intensive physio therapy that took a further 2 years! It was a big commitment but I certainly was not giving up and I saw the challenge through and I persevered through the physio and training.
I was inspired the most by the Marie Curie Specialist Nurses that I came into contact during the placement. They were the epitome of how end of life care should be given and were so knowledgeable in all aspects relating to end of life care such as the management of symptoms, preparing for palliative care through anticipatory care planning. They provided holistic person-centred care that put the patient at the forefront of their care. They certainly were championing the Marie Curie Daffodil Standards!
Not only did they provide evidence based care at end of life but they also provided other resources such as Aromatherapy sessions and teaching patients and their families relaxation techniques,
This placement allowed me to experience first-hand the impact that Marie Curie has on both the patient and their family. Marie Curie at times brings hope to what can be a very sad time and distressing time for all. I like to see Marie Curie Nurses (or all Nurses) as beacons of hope in what seems like darkness and those suffering from, in this case, terminal illnesses.
Friday-Saturday: Travel down to London, ExCel London Marathon Running Show and tour around London
The weekend entailed myself at the start taking a Caledonian Sleeper service to London Euston from Glasgow Central. I was very excited and was itching to go and start my adventure! Essentially you would fall asleep in Glasgow and wake up in London feeling refreshed and the option of a hot shower and Scottish breakfast was to be enjoyed in the morning before heading off to the London Marathon Running Show near Canary Wharf.
I walked into the exhibition in ExCel featuring a place where I was to pick up my race number and where many different charities and good causes were waiting to welcome their budding runners who had raised thousands of pounds in the for worthy causes close to their hearts and had trained their socks off for months. I was one of these runners!
The reality had set in when I saw my race number being placed in my kit bag to get ready for the day after. I had a small tour of London taking in all of the sites and went into Harrod’s to see the products on offer. Throughout Friday and Saturday I was in awe that I had come so far and I honestly could not wait to race day!
I was very nervous but also feelings of excitement were to be felt! The night before was to be one of the most emotional nights I have ever experienced. There was only one more sleep until the race that I had worked so hard to get to. I kept reinforcing the positive attitude and thoughts. I thought of the reason why I was taking part in the race. I was also thinking of all the preparation I had undergone up until this point!
Sunday-Monday: Race Day and travel back through to Glasgow
The morning started off with a nutritious Breakfast that made me take in the essential fuel to kickstart my Marathon dream!
The morning involved me getting ready to take the train to Blackheath. I had planned everything beforehand and had everything in a kit bag that I would require after the race. This was handed into a baggage car and I warmed up, got to the toilet and got in my starting pen. Everyone fell silent for the national anthem and the buzzer went off!
This was the moment that I knew the 26.2 mile race was 10 minutes away and the stress response certainly kicked in! My foot crossed the starting line, the beep from my chip behind my number went off and it was time to rock and roll!
I took the first 3 miles slowly as planned and I would speed up when I was at the end of this down hill segment. Everything was going to plan and I was on the 6th mile ready. I had taken my first energy gel as I had done so throughout my training. Gels were to be taken every 30 minutes after the first hour of running. This was my tried and tested race strategy. I was religious with my fuelling and hydration schedule and I am very sure that this was a contributing factor in my success in my Marathon!
I ran through Greenwich onwards to Cutty Sark which was a truly uplifting experience. It was an atmosphere like no other. It was like a party and seeing the first landmark left me feeling truly amazed with the features of the clipper boat.
A further 6 steady miles passed and the next Landmark was Tower Bridge. This was a bridge that was one of the highlights of my run, no words could give the sight justice what I saw running over this bridge. It was very impressive and the view onto the Tower of London was something really special. I also looked over into the Thames and remember thinking I was glad to have persevered with my training! I was at the top of the world.
A Marie Curie cheering station came at the end of the bridge and multiple people sporting crazy yellow top hats and bells shouted out my name and cheered me on! I just felt so proud to be flying the flag for such a worthwhile cause. The buzz and excitement that I had experienced in Tower Bridge was simply out of this world.
I came to next Canary Wharf. I went up and down many hills and through twists and turns in the road. I came to the sight of Big Ben and Westminster. I remember feeling very emotional at this point of the race and things started to really hurt after 21 miles where I hit the dreaded wall!
At this point I did think at one point could I continue but I thought of the experience that I had on my placement. My own loved ones I have lost to terminal illness and the amount of money I had raised through sponsorship. Three businesses had sponsored me, these being McCallum Bagpipes, Harbour Bar and Waddel and MacKintosh, all three Ayrshire businesses that had heard about my challenge and kindly showed me their generous support!
All of these things combined got me through the last miles of the run! These were the longest miles of my life.
Big Ben and Westminster were both in sight. I remember looking up at the clock face and thinking you would have no bother reading the time with that thing! And, you had the infamous chime coming off the thing when it was 1pm.
1 km to go and then finally the road turned a sharp right. I was at the finish line and Buckingham Palace on my left. It was something so spectacular and I remember seeing the high gates and looking onward to the royal box. I saw the golden Victoria Memorial glistening in the baking hot sun just adjacent to the palace.
I made it to the last 200 yards. I overcame the mental and physical barriers, self doubt and the ups and downs. Thinking ‘I have finally made it’.
The grand finale was made even better with the union jack flying high and knowing that all of my hard work had paid off.
My foot crossed the line. I had completed the 26.2 miles. I must confess I had a few tears of joy.
I received my much anticipated medal and my race t-shirt and I picked up my kit bag at the finish. I met my father at the spectator area and we made our way over to the Marie Curie function. I got a photo opportunity in front of the Trafalgar Square lions. Marie Curie put on a party for us and that shower was one of the best feelings of my life. Getting all of that sweat, tears and stickiness off the energy gels off my body was the dream!
Shivers went down my spine when I got a round of applause from the staff and my fellow Marathon runners! We were in it together and we all made it to the end.
The most inspirational, emotional and scenic run of my life was completed. I am left with so many fond memories of my time in London. I will look at my medal and say that I really did achieve something very special. I achieved something that I thought was something out of my reach. But, I knew I had it in me. The clicking of the train against the tracks started to begin and we were pulling away from London Euston station. I was heading up to Glasgow knowing I had given my London Marathon 2022 the best go that I could! I had my classy heavy medal around my neck and my painful legs to show for it.
It was worth every tear, drop of sweat and early morning long run!
I would like to thank the Nursing department for their support along the way and for sharing my story with you. I hope you enjoyed reading it.
If you would like to help fund Marie Curie's extraordinary work you can do so below:
Third Year Student Nurse
University of Edinburgh