I’m a runner anyway – I haven’t started running because of the marathon. When I stopped smoking years ago I joined a running club, and haven’t looked back.
The London Marathon on 28 April will be my eighth marathon but my first time running London – my first was Edinburgh and I absolutely hated it, I just wanted to finish and was determined to do better the next time!
I’ve actually entered the London Marathon every year for the past few years and this is the first time I’ve got in. It’s not only a personal challenge for me, but London is one of the most well-known in the marathon world. I think when you’re a runner you’re always looking for the next thing you can do, and eventually that natural progression leads to a marathon.
The training is quite tough, and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying! But because this isn’t my first marathon I know what I’m getting into – it’s tough on both your mind and your body, and it doesn’t always go as well as you’re hoping for. That’s why I always have a number of goals to aim for, because if you have a few in your head then you’ll always achieve one of them.
I don’t think there’s any such thing as a bad marathon time because at the end of it you’ve still run a marathon which is a massive achievement, although I will have a secret time in my head that I’m aiming for.
I’ve been training five days a week – I run with my running club three nights a week which is good because that means there’s always someone to run with, even in the middle of winter. I generally have been doing my longer runs really early on a Sunday morning and then going back to bed afterwards.
I’ll start to cut down on the distances I run now and will instead focus on resting. I’ll still run five days a week but not as far – eight miles a week before the marathon will be my longest run until the day itself. There’s probably not a lot more I can do to prepare, other than pack and re-pack all my kit to make sure I’ve got everything I need for the day.
I think on the day itself it’s going to be great – I’ve got lots of friends going including my best friend Becky and my sister and I think there will be lots of support and a great atmosphere. I went to London the other week with Becky, who made me walk the last two miles because I’ll probably be so emotional that I won’t be able to take it all in when I cross the finish line.
Usually for me it’s toughest in the first half. Most people say they struggle with the last six miles, but if I can get through the first half then I think to myself ‘well, I’m almost there now’, and just get my head down and get on with it.
I’ve had amazing support from work and my running club, with people sponsoring me and encouraging me, and listening when I have been moaning about how much I hurt!
I’m running this year to raise money for CVOC – they give practical, specialist and emotional support to children and young people who have been the victims of serious crime, and their immediate families. Bedfordshire Police works with the charity quite closely, and they do such an amazing job I felt it was important to give something back to them. I’m aiming to raise £1,000 for them – with on and offline donations I’m up to about £500 so far.
I think this year I’ll be hanging up my marathon shoes for good, because I’ve run a few now! Although I’m pretty sure I’ve said that before during marathon training. When I ran the Brighton Marathon last year I said I’d never do another one, but a couple of days later I booked in to do Manchester this year, so you never know…
Rachel Stone is the Victim Services Manager for Bedfordshire’s Signpost Hub, which supports anyone affected by offering free and confidential support. You can sponsor Rachel via her JustGiving page, and find out more about CVOC by visiting their website.