Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Well. Anyone reading the blog will have noticed a conspicuous silence after April the 22nd this year, the date of the London Marathon. I tell you, it's taken me this long to be able to write about it without getting a bit despondent. I shall relate the tale as I remember it...

Jennifer, Izzy, my husband and I flew down to London on the 21st. Izzy's first flight was pretty uneventful, and we got ourselves to Victoria Station without much trouble. Then we saw the HUGE queues in the underground station, so we decided to splash out on a taxi to take us the marathon expo at the Excel to register. It was a ridiculously long way away, Izzy hadn't slept all morning, and we were all knackered, so we whizzed through registration, said a quick hello to the Barnardo's stall, and got back to our hotel. We had a lovely big room with lots of crawling space for Izzy, and we were able to relax and have an early night.

Then came 6am on Sunday. My clothes were laid out ready, and when my alarm went off, I made to get out of bed, where Izzy had been lying next to me since her last feed a few hours ago. I had noticed she was warm, and thought it was just the heat of the room, but as she woke up and began to wail, it soon became apparent that something was wrong. She was burning up, and on closer inspection, was covered in a rash from head to toe. We gave her some Calpol, but after being unable to calm her, we decided to call NHS Direct. After a fraught time trying to find out the address of the hotel (which apparently the ambulance service were unable to find out), a paramedic crew arrived to take us off to St Thomas's Hospital. Jennifer was very worried about Izzy, but we all thought it best that she should run if she could, so she headed off to the start line.

The crew reassured us that it was probably nothing, and they even insisted that I get my kit on in case I was able to make it to the start line in time. However, when it comes to babies and rashes, it is certainly better to be safe than sorry. Izzy was much calmer by this point, and seemed to quite enjoy the trip.

My first ever ride in an ambulance ended at the hospital, where a lovely paediatrician checked Izzy over, and decided that she had a viral infection, possibly tonsillitis. We were given antibiotics just in case it was bacterial, and told that the rash should fade over a few days. Izzy now just seemed a bit under the weather, but it was too late for me to run. We walked back to our hotel in Victoria, along eerily deserted streets, all closed off and prepared for the marathon. It was a beautiful bright and cool day, and as we walked I sent messages to Facebook and Twitter apologising for not running, feeling like I had let everyone down.

We went back to the hotel, and watched the race on the telly! We also started tracking Jennifer online to see her progress. We had a nice breakfast, then checked out and wandered onto the streets of London, to fill our suddenly free day. We walked to the London Aquarium at Westminster and spent some time in there (Izzy slept through most of it, but woke up for long enough for us to ascertain that she's pretty freaked out by sharks!) Izzy had her lunch in the shade of the London Eye, and we wandered the area some more, filling time until Jennifer finished.

We arrived at the Barnardo's post-race HQ half an hour or so before Jennifer finished, and got to greet her as she arrived. She completed the race in 4:57:11, an outstanding achievement, and we were and continue to be so very proud of her!

After picking up our luggage, we made our way back to Gatwick, where passers by did double takes at the incredibly spotty baby. We were almost refused entry onto the plane due to her appearance, but were allowed on. Izzy slept all the way home, through plane and car journey, my poor ill baby, quite unaware of what her unfortunate illness had meant that day.

Izzy was back to her old self by the middle of the week, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I'd let so many people down. At least Jen had run, and no-one could expect a mother to run a marathon after a trip to the hospital with her baby, but the feelings of guilt remained. Barnardo's were lovely, and offered to defer my place to 2013, and no-one actually said anything negative about the situation, but I felt like a bit of a fraud. I'd done all the work, all the training, and yet had nothing to show for it.

But of course, that's not true. I had lots and lots to show for it. I had my fitness, which I would never have got back so quickly without a real reason to train. I had the weight that I'd lost, and the muscle I'd gained. I had all the headspace and much needed thinking time that running had given me, a chance to escape briefly from the relentlessness (wonderful though it is) of new motherhood. It was definitely worthwhile, and although the experience ended in real disappointment, I also gained so very much.

After a lot of thinking, I've decided not to run next year. Last year I had the luxury of time, being on maternity leave. This year, I'm back at work, and struggling to find the time to run even once a week. Add to this the fact that every second with my daughter is now extremely precious, I feel I can't sacrifice the amount of time it would take to train for London 2013. Barnardo's have agreed to let me carry over my sponsorship to the Great Scottish Run half marathon on September the 2nd, so I'll be sporting the green vest then, and enjoying the support of the crowds as I run what is still a long, long way for a worthwhile charity. I will run London one day, just not next year!

As for this blog, I think I'll continue it - after all, running is my main hobby and being Izzy's mum is the most important thing in my life, so I'm sure I'll continue to have a lot to say about both! Izzy is 'running' her first race, the Great Scottish Run 50m Toddler Dash, on the 1st of September, so I'll be sure to come back then and let you know how she got on.

1 comment:

  1. Caroline Breyley22 August 2012 at 12:26

    I don't think there can be many people who think you can run a marathon without hours and hours of hard work and training and that's what we were sponsoring! It's as much about the process as the end product isn't it or are we misleading the children we teach?
    Enjoy the run and especially the toddle with Izzy!