The Finish!

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I did it! Not sure how? The heat was pretty unbearable. Crossing the finishing line was the best feeling ever. I ran slower than all my training runs and at no point seemed to be able to muster up any sort of energy to make my legs work. When I was walking for large chunks of it, I was trying to give myself a motivational talking to. Trying to think of everything I’ve been through over the last three years. Thinking of friends lost and friends that are fighting the spread of this disease. Thinking of my children waiting at the finish line, everyone that has supported me and were following my progress, but no, nothing worked. I just wanted to slump down on the hot tarmac and sleep. I remember at one point the runners ahead started cheering as they turned a corner. I wondered what had caused the excitement? I turned the corner and saw Tower Bridge looming ahead of me in the glorious sunshine, the half way mark and still all I could think was, how am I going to get across this huge bridge and how can I possibly only be half way?! What are you cheering at you idiots? Don’t you realise we have another 13.1 miles to go?!! Yes, I was perhaps the only grumpy one on the course.

Gaps in the crowd were enticing me to escape and go home. Nausea was building and I wondered if I quickly vomited on the sides would someone take a photo? I opted for deep breathing and a walk/run strategy, as even in my darkest moment I still didn’t want to be splattered across a newspaper while I was splattering the pavement with the vile contents of my stomach. People were collapsed all over the place. Paramedics were stretchering people off, St Johns ambulance were rushing to massage cramping limbs and the crowd were shouting your name in encouragement,  handing out sweets, food, cut up oranges and even ice-lollies. I passed the amazing Grenfell Tower firemen in their full outfits. We all applauded them as we passed, having a moment to reflect on their story and their amazing efforts to raise money. I didn’t see as many people in fancy dress this year as I guessed the heat put paid to that and it was quite nice to not be overtaken by rhinos and people carrying fridges on their backs!

Finally I reached the Embankment, I kept looking at the London Eye and thinking that’s it, that’s the point where you turn right and head to the finish. Just keep running, this hell is nearly over. The quicker I get there, the sooner it stops. The approach to the finish is littered with signs telling you in meters how far is left. It is meant to spur you on, but for me, when the sign said 400 metres to go I physically slumped my shoulders and started to walk. 400 metres? That was forever! Just one foot in front of the other I kept chanting. 375 yards to go, why can’t I see the finish line, how many bloody bends after that? Two!! Just in case anyone running it in the future wants to know. And then, in all it glory, finally, after four hours and 44 minutes was the bright red finish line. Then I ran. I was desperate to cross it.

The medal was put on, the goody bag handed out and I headed out to meet my family. My gorgeous family. Youngest got her well deserved medal as she whispered to me that she was really proud of me. Not as proud as I am of you.

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My eighty year old dad hugged me as he told me how worried he had been, “I said a prayer for you last night” he informed me. My dad worries about everything. If I get on a plane he thinks it will come down, ff I plan a safari holiday he’ll tell me a story of someone either being eaten by lions or trampled to death by elephants. So in his mind I was possibly going to be the one collapsed somewhere on the course. So we were both as relieved as each other that I had finished.  Mr J. was proud and excited and when I eventually saw my other daughters (they had got a bit lost on the stairs down) I could relax. We were all together again. Eldest daughter even said I had inspired her to run a marathon! Watch this space!

The week leading up to the marathon was obviously hard with my scans and results. It’s a dark time but luckily for me my results were all clear. I was going to blog while it was going on but didn’t want to spread the gloom cloud, especially as the sun was shining so I opted out.

When I was diagnosed with eye cancer three years ago, I searched and searched for patients stories, blogs, happy ever afters. I struggled to find them. A lot of stories I found were of  people that had sadly passed away or they only wrote them for about six months and I was left with a ‘what happened next?’ I realise that it’s just life. People that have an illness want to learn more about it and may share their stories, those that are better tend to move on, so therefore the blogs dry up. I started this blog with the intention of sharing it for longer. So that it would help someone like me in the future and not leave a ‘what happened next?’ I was hoping people would read it and think, she’s still here, she’s still going. it’s not all bad, because yes about 50% of people go on to develop metastatic disease, but remember, 50% don’t. I haven’t. My scans are clear, only about a quarter of my sight has gone and I tend not to think about cancer at all. So if you have just been diagnosed, don’t be scared. Life does go on.

Now three years later I have not just reached the finish line of the London Marathon but also that of my blog.  So a huge thank you to everyone that has read it. I hope it has helped a few people along the way and raised awareness of our rare little eye cancer that makes a huge impact on peoples lives. I am now off to have a massage on my legs, pop a bottle in the fridge to celebrate and live my life.

Love and best wishes to you all.

Cheers

From justaneye xxxx

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10 Days to go!

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Firstly, apologies to people who are visiting my blog expecting it to be about eye cancer. It is usually, just at the moment it has turned into an obsession of a middle aged mum about running and marathons.

So in 10 days I am running the London Marathon for Ocumeluk. I am terrified, even though  my training has gone really well. At the beginning I set myself two goals, one was to beat my last marathon time of 4 hours and 36 minutes and the other was to run around Richmond park in under an hour. I managed the second goal last week with 2 minutes to spare. So I was feeling good,  I was feeling prepared and with all my long runs completed,  I was  looking forward to the ‘taper.’

For those that don’t know what a ‘taper’ is , it’s when us ‘athletes’ cut down our mileage to allow our bodies to repair. For me I couldn’t give a f**k about a repairing body,  I just wanted this hell to stop.  The closer I got to ‘taper’ and cutting down my running the better I was feeling. Bring that taper on I chanted to myself, as I pounded round Richmond park for the 26th time since my torture/training started. Have I been counting? Yes. Every step of the way! When I completed my last long run, a 22 mile beast, I wanted the taper to be a physical element that I could hug and squeeze or drink (the alcohol variety, not water) and shout yes I’ve f**king earned you! And what happens? I get a cold. A sore throat. A foot injury. A blister. More bloody chaffed collar bones and slowly the mind games seep in. The doubt that you’ll ever manage to cross that finish line.  If this is how 22 miles broke you, what will 26.2 do?

So I do what everyone does when they are in doubt and scared, like we all did when first diagnosed with cancer, I googled! And the relief flooded in. I read that many ‘athletes’ find that when they taper they catch a cold. Hurrah!!! I am a top athlete. A 44 year old woman, half deaf, with slightly dodgy sight on one side has lots in common with top runners! It may just be a cold and a blister on the inside of my heel but it’s a start.

Anyway forced rest and no running has sorted out my foot injury, so hopefully come the day all will be good. Except of course the other major issue. The weather. For those reading this living in Britain and Ireland (my aunty!) I don’t need to remind you all of what we have endured weather wise since possibly October.  What I have endured for my training since possibly October. But for those lucky enough to be reading this from a warmer, sunnier climate, let me enlighten you. Our weather has been SH*T!!! I have run in rain, wind, hailstones, snow, ice, sleet and the beast from the east!!!

Spring started (nobody noticed) and with it came snow. Kids Easter holidays were a wash out and for some poor buggers more snow came.  Memories were popping up on Facebook of past holidays at this time of year and people were in shorts. Shorts?! T-shirts?! What the hell are they? I’m still in a ski jacket and thermals and it’s the 12th of April for petes’ sake! So with all the preparation and training I have done, what I  haven’t managed to do is run in  any sort of sunshine.  But hey the weather can’t change that drastically between now and the marathon can it?  Can it?! We live in bloody Britain of course it can! So you know what we have coming our way? Yes that right. A bloomin’ heat wave!!! On the radio this morning they were squealing with excitement as we will be basking in sunshine all of next week. We will be hotter than Ibiza, warmer than Greece. frying eggs on the pavements and I shall not only have jelly legs crossing the finishing line but now also run the risk of being delirious from sun stroke!

Anyway, next week is a busy week for me, so hopefully will keep me off weather watch and stop me scowling at anyone enjoying the sun. I have my MRI scan, results and a visit to the Expo (other side of London to where I am)  to pick up my running number. I arranged to have my MRI before the marathon so that I would have it behind me. I’m not totally convinced it was the right move, as usually  comes with it sleepless nights, not conducive with feeling rested and energised on the big day. Anyway with the scan on Wednesday and results Thursday. if all is well, hopefully I will catch up on my sleep then. If not then I will be properly delirious making my way round the course. Sunstroke or not!

One more slightly off topic thing, I have to do a little shout out here to my youngest daughter. She desperately wanted me to run the marathon, as to her, a fit runner equates to a healthy person without cancer. My other two daughters know that I am well. Youngest worries, so when she sees me run it reassures her.  She pleaded with me to apply. “Please mum! It will be so good. Please! I’ll train with you. I’ll cycle with you. Even when the weather is bad I promise I’ll come with you.” Well. as my kids always manage to bully me into what they want, I found myself saying “okay then.” Hoping I would never get a place! Fast forward a few months and I can say she was true to her word. She was there on the majority of my big runs, rycles she named them, only missing them when she was at school. She accompanied me on my longest 22 miler chatting incessantly all the way. The worst was a 15 mile rycle we did in hideously cold sleet. She was frozen but never moaned. Even when she was exhausted she would tell me to wake her in the morning so she could be with me. She even said it’s a shame bikes can’t come on the course as she would happily keep me company on the big day (probably a good thing, as I would want to to push her off and nick the bike!) We have enjoyed many jelly babies together and discussions on “what next?”

So, I am running the marathon to raise money for the wonderful charity Ocumeluk, but if and when I get over the finish line, Tessie Bear, that medal’s yours poppet. xxx