Friday, 26 April 2013

Running the London Marathon for the Chelsea Pensioners' Appeal - by Sharon Cairney

The friend who supported me at mile thirteen and again at mile twenty three of the 2013 London Marathon was the reason I got excited about running. Tania ran the London Marathon in 2008 and inspired me to run, with her enthusiasm about being a part of what many say is the greatest marathon in the world. 

My application was unsuccessful four years in a row until October 2012, when I received my much wanted ‘Congratulations’ magazine. Training began that October with three weeks of running/walking then I started a twenty six week programme which would bring me up to race day. Everything went pretty much to plan until late February when I was constantly tired and even the smallest run was hard work. A blood donor session two weeks earlier had showed I was low in iron so I couldn’t donate. Further GP tests showed I needed an iron supplement. A week away on holiday meant I was then almost three weeks behind in training. I didn’t manage the peak run of twenty miles as I had included hills that even cars struggled with! The bitter icy cold wind that day meant I only completed seventeen miles. Despite all of this I told myself that I was still ready for the 26.2 miles and was strong enough to push out nine more miles on the day. A three week taper stage meant there was no more time to try the twenty miles again so I concentrated on strength training.

Race day was the most incredible experience from leaving the Royal Hospital Chelsea, getting the tube with other runners to crossing the finishing line. The crowds on route were nothing like I ever expected as the ENTIRE route had people cheering, playing music and very importantly, handing out jelly babies! Every time someone called out my name, which was on my vest, I had a big smile and a wave for them. The ever cheering crowds around the last mile got my wobbly lip and tears. It was so emotional knowing I was about to finish the London Marathon. I broke down the second I stepped onto the finishing mat and had a few tears wearing my medal proudly around my neck.

A short walk back to the Royal Hospital Chelsea brought me to Eric, my Nana’s cousin who is a Chelsea Pensioner, and my son Dan. Eric was the reason I chose to run for the 'Chelsea Pensioners’ Appeal’. My husband and I visited Eric for the first time last August and were blown away with the surroundings and feel of the Hospital. Eric proudly showed us his home and invited us to dine with him and the other Chelsea Pensioners in the Great Hall. Here we found out the true meaning of comradeship as our treasured veterans sat side by side at ease.

The Royal Hospital Chelsea will forever more be a special place to my family and we look forward to a visit again this summer. 

If you would like to sponsor Sharon you can do so here

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