Recapping last year, I left Liberia with a terrible head cold and had one of the most painful plane trips to London. I went to Cranfield University to meet with my professors about my final months of my PhD studies. I rested. I tried to get better. However, when I stood at the starting line I knew I wasn't 100% physically. Not a good feeling to have before running 26.2 miles! The race was great until just over the halfway mark when I was struck with a pain so intense in my hip and hip flexor that it took everything in me to finish. I don't remember a lot of the last few miles due to the dizzying pain that left me feeling sick and disorientated. Coupled with this-I was not able to find Joni in the crowds of people-and she was not able to find me to take some photos or give a high five. But I finished - and I am thankful that God gave me the strength to push through the pain and finish for all of those I was running for.
Fast forward to this year...The week before I left the boys' had a cold, and Kendell and our house guest Scott Dolff had the stomach flu...I started to freak out- "It's just like last year I am going to get sick and all my hard training will be lost-and I will struggle to finish!" The last night I slept at the girls' staff house to keep away from any germs-I started a round of Cipro to keep the stomach bug away-got lots of sleep and trying to relax and not worry.
I also had an "Ace up my sleeve" actually I had lots of them! Many of the SP Liberia 'girls' cam up to cheer me on-this proved to be my secret weapon! Along with them were members of our SPUK office that were there yelling and cheering and Andy Ransberry's family (Andy was also running for SP). Here are some 'snap' shots of the pre-marathon dinner and marathon day: (many of these were taken by Joni, Andy and Andy's wife)
The night before we all went out for some noodles-that's Andy's son 'Muggsy' in the front!
Marathon morning send off...
At the tube station with team "SP" (Alison's Dad in the middle didn't run for SP)
At the starting area-trying to stay warm and chipper!
At mile 5 very chipper and trying to stay warm!
From the balcony -can you see Andy and I? Right in the middle..
I am the one in front...HA! I wish-this is the second lead group-all the Kenyans were in the first group!
Andy and I spot the Liberian Flag and the SP fan club!
This is at mile 5 -obviously feeling good...
Part of the mass 37,000 people-not a lot of room that's for sure!
Seeing the SP crew at mile 15-so great to have the encouragement of SP family!
Another marathon under our belt! Thanks to Jo for all her support, running around London picture taking and video making!
The SPUK girls Lynne (far left) and Faith (blue SP shirt) they were such a great support along with Jeremy from the SPUK office.
The best race thus far-all thanks to my SP tribe!
I have often said that the marathon is very unpredictable...one moment you are in the depths of despair-desperately looking for the finish line-the next moment your legs feel fresh, crowd is yelling your name and you can't wipe the smile off your face. I stuck to my plan of running for 9min and walking for 1min, the first mile was tough as people zoomed by me-however, I eventually caught up to many and passed even more after mile 14.
I carried lots of GU and took it every 4 miles, just like I had planned-took lots of fluids and even grabbed a cookie that a little boy was handing runners nibbling it and refueling my tank. I high fived more kids, thanked people when they encouraged me, stopped and hugged my SP peeps and just enjoyed the experience -and guess what? No injury, no dreading every mile after 16- instead my legs felt good (some sore quads for sure but that is normal!) my last 5km was my fasted-I couldn't wait to round the corner at Buckingham Palace knowing that Taya and Joni would be in the grandstand-and sure enough they were! You can check out the video of my finish on Joni's blog: http://jonesinliberia.blogspot.com/
Words can't describe how much it meant to me to really share the marathon with my SP family. Words can't describe how much it means to me that they know why I run. Words can't describe how grateful I am to all of those who have supported, prayed, gave and cheered. Words can't describe how thankful I am that God has given me the opportunity to run one of the major marathons in the world through my most favorite city's in the world. Words can't describe how blessed I am. Maybe this picture will help me describe it...
Mile 12 heading over Tower bridge...
P.S. Still downloading a lot of pictures-may post more later!