Emma Kendrew will be one of 250 runners taking on the London Marathon for Breast Cancer Now this year. She tells us why she decided to take on the challenge and how she’ll be keeping herself motivated on the day.
On Sunday 23 April, I’ll be standing on the start line of the London Marathon with the 250 members of Team Now. This time last year I was coming to the end of a very different kind of marathon, concluding 10 months of breast cancer treatment.
Back then I could barely hoist myself out of bed, let alone lace up my trainers to go for a run, but as I watched the marathon on television a seed of an idea began to form: if my recovery went to plan, if I could overcome the side effects, and if I could manage a 5k by the end of the summer then I would apply to run in 2017.
I am very fortunate that all the ‘ifs’ came to pass – I have been the beneficiary of cutting edge treatment and life-saving research, and I never forget that I am fit and able to take on my marathon challenge now because someone else ran the hard miles and raised money in the past. Joining the Breast Cancer Now team this year is my way of paying that forward.
That’s what inspired me to enter, but rising to the challenge of 26.2 miles is where the hard work really starts. How do you stay motivated through long run after long run, and keep pushing all the way to the finish line?
Funny how six miles used to feel like a long way, but now it’s just the warm up. Fresh legs and full of energy, posing in my latest kit, and trying to understand (playing with) the features on my GPS watch, because what’s the point of a marathon if not to shop for new clothes and fancy gadgets?
Now I’ve hit my rhythm; my feet are eating up the miles and my mind is free to drift… Or to start thinking about lunch. And dinner. And the large slab of guilt-free carrot cake I intend to devour this afternoon. In about 10 miles this giant piece of cake is going to start appearing as a mirage on the horizon, driving me forward with the promise of sweet, creamy frosting.
Halfway! Wait a minute… halfway? Are you having a laugh?! I don’t care how much cake I can eat off the back of it, there is NO WAY IN A MILLION MILLENNIA I can run this entire distance again. It’s time to call in the reinforcements. Bonnie, Bruce, Bon Jovi, crank up that playlist, because nothing stirs the soul like an 80s power anthem.
So far from the start line, and yet still too far from the finish, it’s time to get serious and think about why I’m running. I think about everything breast cancer has put me through, and how glorious it is that after all the waiting rooms and hospital visits and dark days confined to the house, I am out in the sunshine and actually running.
I think of my mum who we lost to breast cancer, and who is with me on every step – these stunning sights are for you, too. I think about all the wonderful women I have met, and everything that breast cancer has put them through. I think of all the people who are counting on research – even if they don’t know it yet – and I think of all the love, encouragement, and generous support I’ve received.
And then I hunker down for one more mile, because the pain in my legs don’t amount to a hill of beans in the context of all of that.
To the finish line
16 weeks of eating, sleeping and breathing marathon training, but these final 6.2 miles are unchartered territory, and here the going gets really tough. My treatment was like that too. Over long weeks and months your reserves are drained until you reach the limits of what you think you can endure, and yet you must somehow find the strength to continue. That’s the point when you set the finish firmly in your sights, hand over the baton to your family and friends, and lean on them to carry you over the line.
I have no idea how I’m going to push through those final miles of the marathon, so I’m putting my faith in the crowd, and I’m counting on their energy and joy to lift me and transport me along the Embankment, past the Palace, and down that iconic home straight on The Mall.
That’s right, we’re all counting on you! So wherever you are, and however you’re watching, please give us your best cheers because we’re all exactly as strong as the team that’s behind us, and we get to the finish line with a LOT of help from our friends.