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Sheena's Diary

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Welcome to Sheena Di Franco's Marathon Training Diary.

Sheena was training for the London Marathon after starting with Dudley Ladies in October of 2004. Every week Sheena let everyone know what she did that week and how the training was going.

Things were going OK until Sheena had to go in to hospital for a minor operation that set back her training and so Sheena has had to start again from scratch with just a few weeks to go.

If you would like to send Sheena any words of advice or encouragement then you can contact her on v.difranco@blueyonder.co.uk

Anyway, here's Sheena's account of how she did it

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30th October - We're Off and it's Miss Wet T-Shirt Time

Sheena Di Franco pictured far left with Pam Edmunds and Gail Edwards would just like everyone to know that on Sunday 30th October, she won the Dudley Ladies Miss Wet T Shirt competition.

She writes, "Gail, Pam, Kerry, Raj, Kerry’s friend and I started out on a ten mile trek today.  A spring in our step, mud on our trainers, wind through our hair!!! 

Everything was ok until we came off the canal at Dimmingsdale.  We turned right off the canal to start what I call Alison’s Potatoe 10.  I’d stripped off to my Dudley ladies sleeveless T Shirt, only to cover it back up 5 mins later. Why you may ask?  It started to rain a little, but we were strong, it’s ok only a little shower. We carried on for another couple of miles, but by this time the RAIN was getting just a tad heavier!! 

We reached Wombourne town centre, and there were some men playing tennis, they shouted to us “You must be as mad as we are!!”  To which Pam said in her delicate voice “Yes, but we aren’t playing with our balls!!”.

I must confirm at this point that Pam didn’t actually shout this back loudly to the men, but us Dudley ladies heard it and we had a little chuckle. 

We carried on running, but by this time the RAIN was thrashing it down, my endorphins started to kick in, I couldn’t stop laughing and to top it off a car came towards us, went through a massive puddle and soaked Gail, (Luckily Gail being taller than me saved me from getting to wet).  I started laughing again!!!  We neared the railway track which I knew was only six mins approx from Ounsdale.  It was Pouring down with rain and we made a unanimous decision LETS GO HOME!!! 

We arrived back at Ounsdale 1 hour 12 mins later and I can honestly say it had been the worst weather I had ever run in.  We were all soaked through to our underwear.  Our trainers had been washed clean by the rain!! My hair was messed up after I took such a long time on it this morning, but I must say today’s run was the BEST laugh I’d had in a long long time.  Yet another memory to add to all the rest."

 

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Sunday 26th February (1 month, 24days to go) 

Following Sheena's recent stay in hospital, her London marathon training has taken a bit of a step back but as you will read below, she is now back on track and is determined to do it.

"Well this week has gone ok.  Monday I did 10 mile on my exercise bike, Tuesday I came out with Dudley Ladies.  Wednesday did 5 mile on bike, but Thursday and Friday had rest may have over done it a little.  Any way today Sunday ran with Kerry from the Bush and met Pam and Tracy on Charterfields, (Gail was working unfortunately).

We did the loop around Pensnett Ind Est.  Tracy thought I was taking her on a 5 miler, as we were running down Cot lane I said we had only been running for 30 mins since we met up, approx 3 mile.  We carried on down to Lawnswood Road and headed for the A449, turned right and headed back to the Bush Pub. (It wasn’t open!!) . I then broke the news to Tracy Bennett that she had run over 7 miles.  Her first 7 ever!!!   She did really well, only started at the club last April 2005 as a beginner.  She’s well on her way to doing the DK six with ease. 

Anyway Kerry and I ran the last mile faster and we completed our 9 miles in good time 1.30hr ish.  This was a rest weekend as we ran 11 miles last week.  So next Sunday will be 14/15 miles.  Should be good. 

Anyway I’ve sent my money off for the Liverpool Women's 10K and I’ve also got my number for the DK 10k run..  We’ve been talking about doing the Lake Ver (oh bother not sure how to spell it, but I know, you know what I mean) Lake Vyrnwy and the Wolverhampton ½ marathon.  

Love Sheena (Miss Wet T Shirt 2005)"

 

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Sunday 5th March (1 month, 17days to go) 

It’s been a very different week this week, I’ve tried a new exercise, I’ve prayed for NO snow and after today’s run, I’ve realised I’ve still got a long way to go. 

Monday 27th March – I went to a keep fit club with Gail, Pam and Tracy to try out a new exercise I have never done before. SPIN.  You may well ask what this is.  Well imagine a room with approximately 20 exercise bikes fixed to the floor.  Your strap you feet into the pedals of the bike, the lights dim and then this rather fit young gentleman gets on his bike, on the stage and you pedal to music.  Sound easy, NOT!!!   

You start off at a gradual speed with hardly any tension, then once you’ve warmed up he guides you through what I can only describe as aerobic exercise on a bike.  Stand up, sit down, now pedal and repeat.  Well you should have seen me.  I get my left and right hands mixed up and he wanted me to stand up, sit down and pedal at the same time.  I could feel pain running up the top of my thighs (that's the top of my legs I think), your arms get tired as well, but I persevered.   

But the worse was yet to come.  The instructor then said “sit on our seats, put the bike on its lowest tension and pedal to the beat of the music.  The music was so fast and I really did try, but the faster I went, the more my bottom bounced from the seat.  OH MY GOODNESS…. I need extra padding (Although my hubby say’s I have enough!!).  I have now come to a conclusion, that the bigger you are in the behind the better padding for the seat!!!!  I must try and eat extra this week!!! 

At the end of the class I mentioned my problem to the instructor, in a very ladylike way…  He informed me that I could purchase gel pads to protect my delicate behind!!! 

Would I do this exercise again? YES it was a hoot!! 

Tuesday 28th Feb – Went to Dudley Ladies and although I was walking like I’d ridden a horse for two months, I manage to run 5 miles. 

Thursday 2nd March – SNOW… Phil only said to me on Tuesday you cannot let the weather stop the training.  I left work in Wolverhampton at 3.30pm in a blizzard and thought oh god I’ll have to go to spin tonight, but as I arrived in Kingswinford the pavements were clear.  So, as soon as I arrived home I thought go and do my run now before it snowed again.  I ran 6 miles in 1 hour 6mins. Very pleased. 

Sunday 5th March – THE BIG ONE –I woke as usual at 7am, the sun peering through the curtains and I thought it looks like a lovely morning for a run.  Got straight out of bed and peeked to see what the roads looked like SNOW!!!  Now what.  Went down stairs and had my usual breakfast  Porridge and drink.  I then slipped on my trainers and tested the pavement.  The snow was very soft and because the sun was up the snow was melting fast.   

I text Pam to say I’d be at Charterfields for 9.20am, then I somehow managed to ring her by mistake and woke her up (it was only 7.30AM!!) I quickly cut the phone off before she could say anything. 

I was meeting Gail and Kerry at 8.30am at the Bush, Swindon and we were all trying to run between 14.5 and 15miles.  I’m not sure why, but I was a little nervous, I shouldn’t have been because I’d run 15miles the day before my operation on 20th January. 

Anyway, I started off well, I took Gail and Kerry all around Wall Heath and to throw in a little bit of fun along the way, I’d included a couple of Cul de Sacs on route!!   We met Pam, Tracy and Donner at Charterfield and completed the Pensnett circuit, as we arrived at the Cross, Pam, Tracy and Donner headed off home, but Gail, Kerry and I still had a long way to go.  

 My knees were starting to feel tender and I must say, I was not feeling my best this Sunday, not sure why.  Although I know through experience that this does happed from time to time.  Anyway, carried on and as we were running up Barnett Lane , Gail asked how many more hills have we to run?  I didn’t really like to tell her, but I did. Eh I think two smallish one’s and one short and sharp or shall I rephrase that; you may not like me when you see it!!! 

Arrived at Ridge Road, started to run up it then turned into Court Crescent.  Gail said “Oh god Sheena I see what you mean” and unfortunately again I had to say to Gail “No Gail that’s not it, we need to turn right now.”  Due to the nature of Gail’s reaction when seeing the short, sharp, steep, well very steep hill,  I cannot write the exact wording she said to me, but it was along the line of,  “Oh dear Sheena my ex friend, not quite sure if I’ll get up this one” or words to that effect.  Well we did get up the hill and we continued on our run, to arrive back at the Bush in 2hours and 54mins. 14.5 miles.  Congratulations to all.  THANK YOU!!

We were all quite tired and in need of a rest. Yes we warmed down Phil, and then went home!!! 

Next Sunday we are running Alison’s 13miler (Potato run I call it), slightly shorter that this week and on the railway line to take care of my old joints (no not pot mannn!).

Be in touch.

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6th - 12th March - New Friends 

Monday 6th March 2006

After completing 14.5 miles the day previous, I decided on Sunday night that I would go for a swim tonight, but all that change when I arrived home from work at 4.30pm.  I took the dog to the vet as he was a bit wobbly on his back legs (a bit like me yesterday).  Arrived back from vet 6pm.  I then cooked the tea and decided I would do 6 miles on the bike instead.  It was much easier and warmer.  Perhaps I’ll go swimming next week. 

Tuesday 7th March 2006 – Gail stitches Sheena up!!!

I met Gail at running.  Raj returned from sunning herself in India.  Pam and Tracy were feeling a little lazy and decided to have a night off!!!(only joking..)   Started to run around Wombourne and Gail asked if I felt like a long one.  To which I replied “What do you mean, a long what” run of course.  I said I was up for it. We ran round Wombourne Green and started to run towards Sytch Lane.  Are we going up this Gail?  To which Gail replied. “ Its only a short, sharp very horizontal hill Sheena, do you remember yesterday!!!” I do believe Gail had got her own back for yesterdays 14.5 mile run.  We were also joined by two ladies Julie and Karen, who before we ran up Sytch, enquired how far we were running.  5 or 6 miles come on you can join us.  By the end of the run we had run approximately 6.5 miles.  This was the furthest Karen and Julie had every run in their preparation for the Great North run in September.  Well Done. 

Thursday 9th March 2006 – What do Karen and Julie Look like?

One of the problems with running in the dark, is when you meet people for the first time not all of us can recognise them in daylight.  So on the way to training tonight. I was racking my brains to try and think what Karen and Julie looked like, but unfortunately I couldn’t remember.  On arrival at the club I was telling Rita how far we had run on Tuesday and about the girls I had met, to which Karen came up to me (Or was it Julie?) and introduced herself.  I congratulated them again and then went off to run with Gail and Raj. (Sorry no Tracy or Pam, WHERE were YOU!!!) 

Sunday 12th March – SNOW AGAIN!!

Today was a rest day we were only running 13 miles (Although Kerry thought it was going to be 8 miles – Sorry about that!!). There was quite a few of us meet up today, PAM and TRACY, Gail, Kerry, Raj, Julie and Karen.   Karen, Tracy and Julie ran for 6 miles plus and the rest of us completed Alison’s 13 mile Potatoe Run. It was very cold, snow on the ground, but we were strong and fought the elements!!  We completed the 13 miles in  2 hours 23mins. My mind kept wondering to next Sunday’s 18 miles and which route we would complete.  The thought of 18 miles is quite scary, but I will finish….

 

14th - 19th March -  Sheena’s Flora London Marathon Diary – 1 Month and 2 Days To Go!!!

Tuesday 14th March – Sore Knees

Went to Dudley Ladies on Tuesday evening.  My knees were very sore and as I was to undertake an 18 mile run on Sunday, I decided with some encouragement from Gail and Pam, to do a short run.  I ran 4.5 miles ish.  Went home and put ice on the knees. 

Thursday 16th – Bit of a Problem..

I had a problem with my left foot, I wish I’d got John to check it on Tuesday.  I didn’t go running tonight.  I think I’ve pushed it a little lately, but I must admit I feel like I’m running out of time.  My operation stole three weeks of my training and I now feel I can’t do too much or too little nothing is right which ever I do. Sunday is fast approaching and I’m really scared I won’t do it, but Gail and the others are a great source of encouragement at the moment.

 SUNDAY 19th March – This is it – 18 miles

I got up at 6.30am feeling very nervous.  I had my usual, porridge, 1pint of orange squash and my omega 3 milk drink. I had my bum bag with me today and inside it I was carrying the following provisions: Fruit pastels, Malt loaf, Energy tablets, paracetamol, tissue (just in case I need a Paula Radcliff…if you get my drift!!) and a mobile phone.

I met Gail and Raj at 8am on the car park of Ounsdale Leisure centre.  I can honestly say I felt really apprehensive. We ran along the canal and did the 10 mile run which goes passed Ashwood nurseries and back to Ounsdale.  At this point we had run 10 miles in 1 hour and 49mins.  Raj said her good byes and waved us on.  We continued along the canal, until we arrived at the Bratch, here we got off the Canal and went onto the Railway track towards the gate.  We again came off the railway track and went back onto the canal toward Castlecroft.  We arrive at the Castlecroft Bridge just under 3hrs, but then we had to get up Windmill Bank.  We got back onto the railway at Castlecroft and made our way home to Ounsdale.  The last three and a half miles were new territory for me and Gail.  It was ok until the last mile and a half.  Our knees were sore and we couldn’t wait to finish.

Arrived back at Ounsday Leisure Centre

 FINISHED 18 miles 3 hours 33 mins.

Not bad for two forty something’s…..

I now have to say a very big thank you to Gail.  I cannot put into words how I feel about my friend. Gail started running with me and the rest of the crew hoping to gain a place in the London Marathon and as we all know nobody got a place.  She has stuck by me in rain, frost and plenty of snow. She has encouraged me when I’ve had doubts (and I still have a few of them..). She is just FANTASTIC – THANK YOU for everything Gail and especially for Sunday…(oh and Sytch)

 

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21st - 26th March - 28 days to go!!

Tuesday 21st – John’s magic fingers..

When I arrive home from work, the first thing I do is to check my emails.  I couldn’t believe it when I read an email all the way from Indiana, USA. It was from a lady called Joan Malicote. Her picture is shown left.

She said she regularly checks up on Dudley Ladies and the things we get up to and noticed my London Marathon Diary on the web page. She is a runner her self and sent her best regards with my training.  Reading her mail put a real spring in my step after running 18 miles a couple of days earlier.

Tuesday evening I went training as usual with the other Dudley Ladies, but my first port of call was to magic fingers himself, John the physio.  I told him my problem, he manipulated my foot and as if by magic the pain had gone.  He is brilliant!! 

Ran with the girls and we ran about 4 miles. I must admit I was still feeling tired from Sunday.

 Thursday 23rd

Met at Pam’s house and ran the Pensnett Circle I call it.  5-5.5miles. plenty of hill work.  I think we did alright.

 Sunday 26th

Met the others at the Bush in Swindon at 8.30am (Pam, Gail, Raj, Tracy and Kerry).  Raj was running like a ferret this morning there was no signs of her shin splint injury and Tracy.. Well she ran her first 9-9.5 miler.  She is such a good runner I think she could easily do the Dublin Marathon with the girls in October. We ran 15 miles today which included plenty of hill work to build up the stamina. I only had one problem.

At around 8 miles I desperately needed the loo (toilet) and going by numbers, it was not a number one.  I can’t believe I’m telling you this!!  Anyway, I ran into the Summerfield Supermarket in Kingswinford and explained that I was training for the London Marathon, I'd got a bit of a problem and could use their toilet facilities.  The young assistant got on the telephone; I suppose to her supervisor and explained my predicament.  To my utter surprise, they refused me, as she explained I needed a code to enter the room were the toilet was and she was unable to give it to me.  OK never mind I said, as I ran out the door crossed legged with buttocks firmly clenched!!!

I told Gail and Pam I couldn’t use their loo.  Then across the road I spotted the Daisy Chain Flower Shop was open (of course it’s Mother’s Day!!).  I ran very quickly over the road and again explained my predicament.  To which the assistant pointed me in the right direction, up stairs to the toilet.  I would now like to get quite emotional.  This was quite honestly the best toilet visit I have ever had..  I was surrounded by bouquets of flowers in the area where I was sitting.  Beautifully scented flowers, brightly coloured and ready to be delivered to wonderful mothers in this local area! I can honestly say I was in heaven (especially when I’d finished.. if you get my drift!!).

I vote the DAISY CHAIN FLOWER SHOP as having the best, most sweetest smelling toilet facilities in the West Midlands!!! THANK YOU..

To continue, Pam, Gail and I finished the15 miles in a little over 3 hours, a little pooped in more ways than one.

Next Sunday is the BIG ONE!  22 miles.  Can’t tell you how I feel, but to say I’m very nervous is an understatement, but I WILL finish (I hope)!!

 

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28th March - 2nd April - 21 DAYS TO GO!!! and it's THE BIG ONE

Tuesday 28th March – Just A Short One!

Met the girls at Dudley Ladies, tonight was just a short one as I was saving my energy for the 22 miles on Sunday.  I had hoped to see John Murphy, but the school was closed due to industrial action, therefore he was unable to treat my ankle and knees.

 Thursday 30th March – Ah that’s better!

I visited John Murphy as Mons Hill College tonight.  This is where he teaches massageHe came and asked me the problem, and then with his magic fingers he went and did it again and got rid of the pain.  I then had a couple of his students massage the calves of my legs, it hurt but as they say no pain no gain!!

 Sunday 2nd April – THE BIG ONE!!

I must have been worried about this run, all I did on Saturday night was dream about running and getting lost. It was a crazy night.  I got out of bed at 6am and went through my usual routine of porridge, a pint of squash, and my omega 3 drink.  By this time it was only 6.45am and I wasn’t meeting the girls until 8am.

I decided to make bread and butter pudding for the family sweet after dinner; this took my mind off the run a little.  I then packed my bum bag with fruit pastels, energy sweets, mobile phone and yes tissue, just in case.

Arrived at Ounsdale School and met up with Kerry, Julie and Karen.  The furthest Kerry has ever run is 14 miles and this was with me on the 22nd January.  She was planning to run the full 22 miles with me today.  The furthest Julie and Karen had ever run was 9 miles and they wanted to run 10 today.

We got onto the canal path and started to run.  It was very windy, cold and rainy.  We reached Compton Bridge which is where Julie and Karen were going to leave us to complete their own 10 miles, but I said that if you can run 9 miles then you CAN run 12 which would bring them back to Ounsdale School.  They agreed and continued to run with me and Kerry.

At 11 miles I said to Julie, that it would be a shame not to do that extra mile and do 13.1 miles which would be their first half marathon.  It would probably only take them approx another 12 mins.  I convinced them again to keep going and they did it.  Julie and Karen completed their first Half Marathon in 2 hours and 44 mins.  Fantastic achievement for them both as they are taking part in the Great North Run in October, they are well ahead of schedule to bring that time down.

 Kerry and I left them both as 12 miles and headed for Ounsdale school, we both needed the bathroom and this is were would meet up with Pam to run the last 10 miles.  It was a lovely surprise to see Rita standing with Pam as we approached Ounsdale they both gave us great encouragement then we dashed to the loo.

Off we went again, onto the canal and headed for the Navigation and Ashwood.  I felt quite good until 18 miles, then my knees started to ache, but we kept going.  Kerry is a faster runner than me and I suggested that she carry on ahead and finish as quickly as she can.  By this time the wind and rain was picking up and we were getting quite wet.  Off she went, the little whippet.  I asked Pam to keep talking to me and if anyone knows Pam, they know she has no problem in talking (ONLY JOKING).  She spoke of her holidays, she told me jokes anything to get my mind off the pain in my knees, she was marvellous. 

Another area I was getting a problem from was the top middle of my back.  I’ve never had a problem before, but I felt like it was in knots.  Nearly there and I could see the last bridge in the distance.  My legs were working so hard, but I knew by now I WAS going to finish.  As we come off the canal we have to run 30 yards up quite a steep hill back to Ounsdale.  I was thinking about this as I approached the hill, but I did run up it, I don’t know how, just sheer grit and determination I guess!!!

Arrived at Ounsdale 4HOURS 20MINS later.  Thank God.  Finished in more ways than one, Kerry greeted me and we all hugged.  I must say I felt quite emotional and relieved.

That’s it the last LONG run before the marathon.  

Next Sunday I will be in Switzerland with Students from St. Edmunds School on a Geography trip.  No I’m not a teacher, I’m the Finance Officer at the school, organizing disco’s and raffles as well as sitting on the board of Governors.  I am a busy person and I can honestly say that without my running I would be totally stressed, probably 1 ½ stone over weight and I wouldn’t feel the way I feel at this moment. 

 What a great day!!!

When I got back home, I received the following email from Julie Lamb telling me how she and Karen got on when they left us, she wrote :-

" Hi ya ... only me... Well the good news is we made it.... We ran down the track to common road and then towards the green.  When we arrived back at the centre we realised we had only done 12.4 so we then went round Bumblehole ... it was at this point that Karen told me we needed to do 13.1 miles... not just 13... oh my god!!!

Our finishing time for 13.1 was 2hrs 44 mins.. We were really pleased... and you were right.. it does give you a buzz and a great sense of achievement.

Hope your run went well and your hip and ankle held out.  I am sure you did just fine.  You have so much determination  ... it really is encouraging to us other runners.

Thanks for the run this morning.. I really enjoyed it."

I would like to say a big thank you to the following: Pam Edmunds, Gail Edwards, Raj Sanghera, Kerry Pearson, Tracy Bennett, Julie Lamb, Karen, Phil, Rita and John Murphy. THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR SUPPORT!!!

 

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9th - 18th April - Time Out in the Alp’s

9th April 2006 - This week I was with students from St. Edmund’s School were I work, in Switzerland, on a Geography trip.  I managed 2/3 miles training at 6.30am on Monday 10th April and that was after leaving my handbag in France at a service station to which the driver turned the coach around and it was retrieved and then setting off the fire alarm at 6.30 am on the Sunday after the hotel manager had given us in-depth instructions on arrival to the hotel on the 8th April, to be careful using hair dryers in the room, the fire sensors are very sensitive, but what the heck at least  people will remember me…(I was totally embarrassed not sure the school will take me again).

 

16th April 2006 – One week to go

Only ran 7 miles today. Only small runs this week to keep my energy for Sunday.  Getting rather nervous, but that’s to be expected. 

18th Aril 2006 – Last Run

Last run at Dudley Ladies before the big one. 5 miles in 56 mins I felt really good.  Next time I write to you it will be about the marathon until then – fingers crossed!!!

 

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23rd April 2006 – My London Marathon -

Oh..... *@&!^$+?"# .........  This is it !!!!!!!!!

 

Arose from my bed at 5am and had a long soak in the bath.  Washed my hair and put on my makeup (Well you never know I may bump into Colin Jackson!!).  My husband Richard and I went down to breakfast.  Richard had cereals, followed by a full English breakfast and two cups of coffee.  I had the same….NOT!!!  I had two large bowls of porridge, banana and two drinks of orange juice.   

Got on the coach at 7am, this is it, I’m on my way, or so I thought.  The coach drivers were a little unsure as to the way to Greenwich Park as a lot of the roads had been closed for the Marathon, but we did arrive in plenty of time no need to have worried. 

Arrived at the blue start and the first think I needed to do was find the loo.  I spotted them and to my surprise went straight into a cubical.  When I’d finished I went back to Richard and said that that was a surprise there wasn’t a queue for the toilets, to which he replied… wait for it…..  Yes there was, there was about 20/25 people queuing, but I just didn’t see it, I couldn’t believe it.  I’d queue Jumped!! 

Richard and I then walked swiftly away from the toilet area (Well very quickly actually)  to meet up with his brother and girlfriend. 

It was now 9.15am, so I said my good byes to Richard, Michelle and Tony.  We’d planned to meet each other at 4/5 miles, 14/15 miles, 20 miles and the finish. (Fingers crossed). 

I was starting from the Blue start.  Standing very nervous, but confident I would and should finish after all the training that had been done.

The minutes passed, the tension rose, a last deep breath and suddenly there was a loud report and we were off. It took quite a long time to get running as I was in the last pen number 9 with a lot of runners in front of me.   Eventually after what seemed to be an eternity, we actually got to the start line but still found ourselves in a bottle neck, which made it difficult to get into a regular stride pattern as I was too busy dodging other runners and black bin liners. 

In my head I was hoping to finish in around 5hrs 10 – 5 hours 15mins but there was a long way to go (26.2 miles to be exact) but the crowds were fantastic, with  people shouting and cheering us on, giving us encouragement for this very long challenge, so I felt confident.

I saw Richard and the family at 4/5 miles and had to have some pain killers for my back pain which had decided that today of all days it was going to come and visit me again. I also took the opportunity to grab a bottle of water and have a family photograph.  I carried on feeling ok.  At twelve miles the picture of Tower Bridge kept on coming into my head, then as we turned the corner there it was.  I started to cry with relief and nervous excitement, the noise from the crowds, the cheering and screaming, families waiting anxiously to see their runners crossing this very famous bridge, this was such an adrenalin rush!! 

This is were I saw Colin Jackson, I just hoped my makeup looked ok..  “Hi Colin", I said and then he saw me, our eyes met and he blew me a kiss “See you at the finish Sheena darling!!! " Then I woke up. Yes I know he never saw me but I saw him and he looks a good in the flesh as he does on the TV… 

Ooh this put a big spring in my step and it wasn’t too long before my family were waving at me again at 14/15 miles. A new bottle of water, sweets, MORE PHOTO’s and a KISS from the hubby. 

The weather for the marathon continued to help, it couldn’t have been better, fairly cool, no wind and drizzly rain, just what I had ordered. 

Carrying on and feeling ok....ish, I could just see Canary wharf in the distance, but as I reached 18 miles I was in hellish pain in my lower back again, I can’t describe how much it hurt. Part of me wanted to stop and ask for pain killers and the other part of me said, this will affect your time and the other part of me said if you stop now for help then you WILL finish. 

I stopped right by a family who were sitting in front of their house and asked if they had any pain killers? They said yes just wait a minute and the lady of the house came out with two Paracetamol and a glass of water.  I thanked her for her kindness and then got on my way.  At this point I knew I had lost a good three or four minutes on my time.  But I carried on running my aim was to finish. 

Met up with family again at around 20/21 miles more photo’s, more water and more sweets and then Richard said “See you at the finish”.  With his words in my head I ran off knowing this would be the hardest part of my marathon. 

My knees hurt, my back (sorry for this) bloody killed me and I think I have a blister on my foot but I kept running, I was DEFINITELY NOT GOING TO WALK, I had done the training and I was determined to RUN ALL THE WAY.  Each mile seemed to get longer as the marathon went on, I was in pain but I had reached the embankment and was still running. The rain was now thrashing down, it was great, lovely weather to run in. 

THEN at 24 miles my blister burst, yes you may think that it was only a blister, but the stinging sensation when they burst while you are trying to run makes you limp like you’ve sprained your ankle but luckily, the sensation wore off after a few minutes and I gritted my teeth. In the distance I could see Big Ben.  What a fantastic sight that was.  Nearly there, not in the time I had hoped, but at this point I had the finish in sight. 

I kept on running down Birdcage Walk and by now I could see Buckingham Place, come on you can do it, you CAN do it!!!  The finish line is in sight come on, come on, come on.................., FINISHED - Hands up jubilant, crying, shaking and trembling with excitement and pain. 

It’s really difficult to describe how I felt at that moment of finishing the marathon.  For 18 months I’d been training for this day.  I’d had injuries and most recently an operation which I thought would prevent me from finishing my challenge but I didn't give up, I gritted my teeth and I dug in. 

And then the realisation, I had just run 26.2 miles in the greatest marathon in the world and didn't walk, I’d trained very very hard for this one event, I’m not sure were my determination came from, but I'm sure that I wouldn't have done it without the help of Pam, Gail, Raj, Kerri, Tracey and all my friends and co-runners from Dudley Ladies Running Club who gave me nothing but encouragement and support.

I have met and made new friends while on this journey, local people and people like Joan Malicote from the USA who emails me with support regularly.  I know that if I can complete a marathon with all the challenges and problems that I have met along the way these last 18 months, then anyone can, as long as you hold onto the dream.  (now I’m crying again xxx) 

London Marathon 23 April 2006 – RAN in 5 hours 19 mins.

Thank you – Would I do another one?  Ask me in a couple of years time when I’m 50!!!

 

Click on the camera icon on the right to see a video of Sheena's race

 

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