by - 03:03

Two years ago I couldn't run for thirty seconds without staggering to a stop. I used to struggle to catch my breath before I even hit the end of the road. Cheeks flushed, I would plod back to my house and try to forget about my dream of completing a marathon. I thought running would give me some me-time back post pregnancy but to be honest I found it a very difficult hobby to do on my own. The beeping of car horns and jeers of 'I could walk quicker' didn't help either.

After a bit of research, I found a local running club that were putting on a couch to 5 km beginners course and so on a dark night in October 2015 I headed out and ran with them. It was exactly the same as the previous time in many ways - I still couldn't run for thirty seconds. However, this time there was support and other people in the same position as me. By December 2015 I could run 5 km (3.1 miles) without walking something which two months prior had seemed impossible to me.

When this course had finished, the other runners started doing the regular club sessions however once again self doubt hit and after a few weeks of missing club nights I decided that I was probably too slow for this running malarkey anyway. A year later later my weight had started to really increase and with real regrets over leaving the club I once again completed the couch to 5 km sessions in and this time stayed for good gradually building to a distance of 10 km.

Finally confident, I decided to enter a marathon and despite getting injured and having to defer the Brighton Marathon in April 2017, I lined up Birmingham Marathon as my next attempt. I'll be honest here, I'm a plodder. I'm no Paula Radcliffe but for me time was unimportant, I just wanted to be able to say I had done it. I decided to raise money for Parkinson's Disease (a condition which my mother suffers with) and drew up a training plan. Being a stay at home mum to a three year old son and a part time night shift worker wasn't exactly conducive to marathon training. In all honesty come race day I was slightly behind where I had hoped to be. I'd only done a long run of 14 miles. Whilst this was very far beyond what I had thought I was physically capable of, it was nothing compared to the 26.1 mile marathon facing me. I couldn't imagine running another 12 miles on top of that 14.

The 15th October 2017 arrived and suddenly I was on the start line with 9000 others really hoping I would make it round unscathed. I felt good until Mile 13 and then unfortunately for me the blisters started. I ran/hobbled until Mile 21 where I hit the dreaded wall. I'd always wondered what this would feel like and let me tell you, it wasn't nice. I ended up walking from Mile 21 to around 400 metres from the finish. Crowds lined the streets and cries of 'come on Claire' met my ears. The sight of my hobbling crying self hadn't gone unnoticed. Not wanting to walk in to the finish, I managed a jog to the finish line where I was met by Wayne and Jack. Jack asked me if I'd won which made me absolutely howl with laughter. Had he not seen the thousands of people in front of me? I collected my medal and pretty much sat still for the next 8 hours as every muscle in my body seemed to seize up.

Fast forward a few weeks and I still can't believe it. I've completed a marathon. I'm part of that 1% I'm never going to be the quickest runner but that really doesn't matter. I managed to juggle parenthood/ shift work and marathon training and hopefully showed my little boy that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

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