This time around there was an added buzz. It was the legendary Paula Radcliffe's last 'fairly competitive' marathon and a farewell, to end things on her own terms. It was quite emotional watching her cross the line - albeit in such a phenomenal time for someone who's been struggling with injury! It shows the real grit of Paula as an athlete and the phenomenal talent she possess. I've followed Paula's career for as long as I can remember and as a strong female athlete - she's been a brilliant role model for me. Her stance against drugs has always resonated with me and I admire the way she voices her opinions on the matter, instead of shying away from the issues.
I've been extremely fortunate to have been surrounded by strong women - more significantly, my own mother and coach. It still blows my mind to think that she won the London Marathon back in 1996. Her winning time was a good 6 minutes faster than our current British ladies. I always wonder why our distance athletes haven't progressed over the last 10 years - especially when back in my mums day, she didn't have the same privileges we have access to today. Perhaps that's the issue - things are too easy for athletes nowadays and processes are over complicated.
Paula's 2.15 marathon is by far the hardest world record to date. It's an unbelievable achievement and something I'll always remember watching on the TV. Unfortunately, another strong memory that identifies with me, is her Athens Olympics. Paula was a set favourite and yet, sadly, it ended in tears at the road side. It verifies to me, that even if you are doing everything right and one of the best athletes in the world - sometimes it is still isn't enough. Luck really does have to be on your side!
My mum has always been very low-key about her achievements. Her medals have always been hidden away and I had never been shown them, until that Olympic Marathon. Watching Paula in tears at the side of the road - really made my mum truly appreciate how great her achievement of an Olympic silver medal was. In the past, she had concealed it away - upset because her eyes were set on gold and she felt like silver was a sub-par performance... Which is ridiculous! I'm glad she finally came to her senses because in athletics - nothing should be taken for granted!
It was poignant moment watching Paula cross the line on her terms and with a smile on her face.
I'm very blessed to have received some advice from Paula, over the last few years and especially with this most recent injury. Her knowledge is invaluable and it's immensely helpful to discover how she built up from injury, with use of the alter G and other methods of cross training - to go on to superior performances.
Congratulations to all the runners who made it to the start line - a life-long achievement and memory.
Now it's time to plan your next one!
Once a runner, always a runner!