This was where I saw the family, plus friends, just after mile 12. Clearly sunglasses were not required for the sun but they have a "rose tinted" effect on my surroundings. And they help me to channel my inner Paula. Something needs to!
Before every race I skim through my favourite book - Running Like A Girl" (£6.79) taking comfort and inspiration from some of the quotes in it, such as:
"The moments of anger or desolation that runners experience at desperate points of a lengthy race are basic physiological reactions to the situation. But once you have accepted what they are then you have learned to conquer them, and you will begin to believe that anything is possible" i.e. It's normal to feel really, really terrible at times. It's all part of the process. You've just get to get on with it and things will get better. And it's true, they do.
This is another of my favourite quotes: "[Running] is an honour, a privilege and a gift." And it truly is. When the going gets tough - and it does get tough, especially when slogging up a hill at mile 11 - I remind myself how lucky I am that I am able to do this and that I mustn't ever, ever, take it for granted.
And this is the reason why I really like this book, especially for those women who think that running really isn't for them - even though they may secretly want it to be:
"This book is the one I didn't have but would have liked to have read before I went on my first (disastrous) run. Something for those people who think they can't run for whatever reason. For the women who think they aren't slim enough to wear running kit or that it's not worth it if they don't want to compete an entire marathon, for the women who think that running around in circles is an idiotic way to spend the best part of an hour. For those women who don't yet trust that it really is a source of immeasurable pleasure, self-belief and unexpected companionship, rather than a necessary purgatory - that they might, just might, enjoy the confidence, the physical ease or the mental clarity that running brings."
Mr SG did a fab job of taking photos, especially given that I whizzed past at such a cracking pace (!!)
I realise that the time has sort of passed but if anyone would still like to make a donation via my Just Giving page, it will be open for a while longer. I am so, so grateful to everyone who donated. Some of you know me only through here so once again, thank you! (And special thanks to Libby, my running pal who made every step so much more fun.)
I am hoping that next year I will be accompanied by a group of friends who will either be running a half marathon for the first time, or who will be running again having had a couple of years off. So, if anyone wants to join in, you know where to find me! In the meantime, London beckons....