A Marathon Finish

Well, here we are. The deed is done, the marathon is run…

As many of you will know from my Facebook updates, I travelled down to London on Saturday afternoon. I had previously booked a hotel in Bexley, in a package that included a special breakfast and a coach to the starting line. The room itself was impressive – both in that it was nicely decorated and in that it could have easily slept four (even though I’d only booked for myself). The breakfast itself was not as special as I’d perhaps envisaged – basically being a buffet of toast, porridge, cereal or cooked English breakfast. I had the latter with extra hash browns – partly for “carb loading”, but mainly because I’m addicted to potato products.

After a quick pack, during which time I had to check three times to ensure that I had remembered my running number, I headed for the buses. We left the hotel at a little past 7am and were on Greenwich Park for around 7.30am. I quite quickly became apparent what a vast event this was and how beautifully it had been organised. The bus pulled off the road onto a specially laid temporary road. We all offloaded and began the mile-long walk to the Red Area (there are three start areas, which are allocated on ability – Red being the colour of the Masses).

Having arrived at the Red Area, we said a goodbye to our supporters (well, the others did – I forgot to bring any… knew I’d forget something) and headed inside. Basically this was a massive area that had been fenced off and contained a couple of toilet blocks, a tent handing out free water, a tent handing out free coffee (which took me nearly an hour to find!) and a big TV with commentators and apparently Jonathon Edwards.

Starting Area

The downside at this stage is that it was barely 8am and nothing else happened until 9.45am. We drank water, looked bored and eventually put our bags on the lorries (to be delivered to the other end). Apart from that, there were brief moments of interest (mainly hearing the elite runners start) but that was about it.

Until our turn…

The mass race (starting at the Red Start) was further split into nine categories by expectation/ability – one being those who would finish before they started and nine being those who had never run a marathon before or were doing so in some bizarre outfit. I was assigned to group nine, so I took up position in the starting line up. I must admit, there are few occasions on which I can recall having seen so many people in such a space. I have done some big festivals and the like, where there a lots of people – but not all lined up like that. I was truly astounding to see and be a part of.

At 9.45 am our race started. The feelings of doom and panic that had been building over the morning suddenly reach a crescendo and you start to wonder if it’s too late to sneak out the back! Obviously that number of people do not all cross the line instantaneously, so you begin the stop-start able towards the starting line.

Twenty-five minutes later, you turn the corner and pass the start line – marked by a big arch reading “see you at the end”. I must admit that by this point I had reached almost almost euphoric state. Whatever the outcome, it was now inevitable – so lets go! Initially the runners are still quite tightly packed, so there is no real way of doing anything exciting. There’s also a good crowd – mainly supporters wishing to see their loved ones on their way – so you feel quite buoyed by the whole experience.

The first few miles are relatively residential and I was surprised by the crowds. I had expected the initial throng of relatives and then nothing until we reached the first major landmarks, but the population of London were out in force. It started out more as encouraging clapping, although I was surprised/scared by one particularly mean woman with a deep, husky voice shouting “Come on Sean” (arghh, I’m running, I’m running!!!).

I initially started well, although I will admit that it was not long – only a few miles perhaps – before the twinges started and I started alternating between walking and running. I have made no secret of the fact that my training has been less than perfect and less than consistent, and it very quickly entered my mind that I may come to regret this. I also experienced a very strange occurrence in my right foot – what I could only compare to a bone breaking, although I’ve never knowingly done that to any bones in my feet and no subsequent evidence of this has materialised. However, the “cracking” sensation followed by a white pain that made walking on the foot unbearable, which quickly dissipated and then periodically twinged for the rest of the race. Not altogether fun.

I will admit that I could not (except perhaps through hypnotherapy) do a full walk-through of the entire event in sequence. I also suspect that there are few that would read such a document (it has been noted that I ramble in my blogs anyway!). So I will not endeavour to give a full blow by blow account. I was of course aware of passing the beautiful, stunning presence of the Cutty Sark, which looked amazing in the glorious sunshine. I was also intrigued by the long beam on the opposite side of the road, parallel to the floor – and it was only when you glanced the full length that you realise that it was the BBC camera, which was thankfully not recording (physical exercise and cognition are apparently mutually exclusive, at least in my existence).

Tower Bridge of course is a most significant part of the race, less for it’s national symbolism and majesty and more because it immediately precedes the half-way point. I had hoped to run the entire length of the bridge, but unfortunately the legs were unwilling by this stage. It would not be long before I dropped running from the itinerary altogether.

Canary Wharf is actually quite a strange place to run around. On an island with such immensely tall buildings, you get quite a strong breeze even in calm weather and the mirrored glass reflects the sun down onto the roads – so you’re running under twice the amount of daylight and heat. The effect puts one in mind of running as an ant under a magnifying glass!

I will admit that shortly after this I became a little less aware of my surroundings…

Having started out feeling relatively confident, as stated I quickly changed into a mixture of walking and running. At about the half-way mark the running became non-existent, so walking ruled. I am blessed with a long stride (assisted by long legs) and I have always been able to walk quickly, although it is rare (i.e. unheard of) for me to cover such distances at speed. I therefore forced myself into what could loosely be described as a “route march” – walking a little too quickly but maintaining that pace. I was pleased to realise that this pace was actually faster than a lot of those running. It was also fairly consistent, so while many were still switching between running and walking, I was actually achieving the same overall speed.

It must be said that by the 18th mile I had had enough. The pace had perhaps slowed, despite my best intentions, and you’re aware that the mile markers are becoming increasingly far apart (I am currently trying to develop a scientific theory to quantify the elasticity of the mile…). However, I was still vaguely aware of my timings (remembering that my start time was twenty-five minutes after the race start time, so a little light maths was required). I suddenly realised that even with my depleted state of perambulation,  it would still be possible for me to achieve a 6 hour race. So I strengthened my resolve (or what was left of it), ignored my body (or what was left of it) and dug deep. The last miles were some of the most tortuous moments in my life – a statement I believe I can say with no exaggeration. Big Ben was a small relief (passing him indicates that there’s roughly one mile left), but he can be seen for several miles – taunting in the distance.

I must take a moment to discuss the weather – especially for England’s most famous race! All of the forecasts that I had seen in the weeks leading up to the event had indicated a bit of dampness. The forecast from the day before and even the day itself indicated rain. So imagine my surprise when it was fine – no better, warm – indeed too warm. The only fear I had was a hot day (I can overheat doing nothing in a walk-in freezer), so this basically amounted to the sum of all fears.

Until the last mile…

With roughly two miles to go, the clouds started making their presence known. Half a mile later, it started to rain. With one mile remaining, the heavens opened – and it was cold, wet rain that seemed to want to wash away your soul…

I was not impressed!

On a flip-side, I must talk about the crowds. I had expected some crowds to have gathered around key landmarks, but I was not prepared for the response of the capital’s population. From the start through to the finish there were people crowding the streets. I do not think that there was one ten-yard stretch of pavement along the route that had not got someone clapping or cheering or shouting. At least every mile, especially in town centres, there were bands on – some rock/pop types, two steel bands, two orchestra’s, one collection of bagpipes… Every pub you passed, the pavement was packed with people, drinks in hand, shouting encouragement (and not a swear word heard – cannot imagine that in Leicester!), and most of the pubs had DJ’s and PA systems shouting their encouragement over motivational music. All along the route, children stood at the side of the road, “hi fiving” every runner that passed. And the sweets…

Several articles that I had read indicated that while fluids were provided (either water or Lucazade) and there are two points were Lucazade Gels are handed out, it is best to take some form of calorie intake with you. There are several scientifically-advanced (expensive) products on the market, each more foul-tasting (and expensive) than the last. However, almost all agree that the best fuel for such occasions is Jelly Babies – a good sugar hit, no real mastication required and they taste nice. So I had taken two bags with me. I need not have bothered,

From the start, the population stood there with boxes of sweats. Everywhere you looked, people stood with arms outstretched, ready to pass sweats to the runners. At one stage I nearly tripped over a small child as they tried to deliver sweets to a runner in the middle of the street. I even saw one woman trying to hand out ham sandwiches and sausage rolls.

And the most beautiful part of the crowd – the encouragement. As stated, everyone had a positive word to help you on your way. The Legion had kindly provided me with my running vest and had printed my name on my chest – and everywhere there were people shouting “come on Sean”, “you can do it Sean”, “you’re nearly there” (although the first time I heard that was as I passed the 5km mark, so I’m not sure how encouraging that was…).

The last miles of the race were gruelling. My calves were screaming, my ankles were on fire, my feet (particularly my right) were unable to bear pressure and my brain had climbed into a little escape pod, preparing for the inevitable implosion. So I took out my headphones, listened to the crowd and walked for all my worth. I have never had strangers shouting encouragement at me before. Kind words, motivational words – in a couple of instances, even military-style “get your arse moving” type words. And all for a bloke that they’ve never met and never will. It was humbling, fantastic and immensely appreciated.

The amazing thing is that they would have been doing it for over three hours before I showed up and quite probably three hours after I’d passed by. Each named individually, each time a heartfelt cry of encouragement.

The last stage of the race was an incredible mix of emotions. Determination to finish, being aware that there should be cameras taking my photo so I needed to attempt to look human. Disbelief that I could actually have finally made it. Pride in my accomplishment and that I had not left down those who had supported me (my biggest fear in any of my endeavours, be they exceptional or mundane). And, surprisingly low in the ratings, relief that it was actually over!

I passed the palace with not real acknowledgement (I am an avid Royalist – so ignoring it feels wrong really) and headed up the Mall. The final 375 yards feel surreal given the circumstances (and the pain). I did attempt to run, determined to finish with style, but basically there was nothing there – the reserves long since gone. And then it was over. I went under the arch and met a few people who congratulate you (again, each individual gets a heart-felt remark, no matter how many thousands go past). You get shuffled up a little ramp and some people cut your timing tag off. You then shuffle down the ramp and get presented your medal (not by Prince Harry unfortunately). You then get given a goody bag containing a couple of drinks, some food and a foil blanket (which is impossible to unfold, I had to ask for help!).

I then collected my bag from the lorry. I dug out my towel, dried myself off – and cried. For the life of me I couldn’t explain why, and I was damned if anyone was going to see me (especially anyone who may be related to national television). So I stood there with my face buried in my towel for either a few seconds or an eternity, lost in a group of emotions that I doubt I will ever be able to articulate.

Having eventually gathered myself and dug a few more clothes out of my bag, I then proceeded to go the wrong way down the path and ended up outside the area and unable to easily get back in. This was not a set-back – I did not have to worry about meeting people in the meeting area. So I headed for the tube (do you know how many steps there are to the Northern Line!!!), then to the train (which was massively over-crowded) and finally to Leicester, where my Dad pick me up and I went back to my parents – relieved to be home and practically incapable of walking.

I will leave the story there for the moment. Needless to say it was a touch emotional. It also involved a bath, a very welcome meal and a lot of feeling sorry for myself…

Before anything else happened that evening, I asked my Mum to take a few photo’s of the “conquering hero”. To my mind I look surprisingly good and certainly a lot better than I actually felt. The vest was too tight and exercise doesn’t suit me, but other than that, I think they help to convey how I was feeling at the time…

21 20

There will be the official photo’s as taken by the Marathon’s own photographers – these are gradually coming online over the course of the week. If you are interested, head to http://results-2012.virginlondonmarathon.com/2012/ and enter runner number 46369, then follow the link to the photo’s.

As for the final time -  5 hours, 42 minutes and 23 seconds.

Split time diff min/km km/h
5K 00:36:14 36:14:00 07:15 8.28
10K 01:10:15 34:01:00 06:49 8.82
15K 01:48:11 37:56:00 07:36 7.91
20K 02:28:44 40:33:00 08:07 7.40
HALF 02:37:37 8:53:00 08:06 7.41
25K 03:11:27 33:50:00 08:41 6.92
30K 03:54:19 42:52:00 08:35 7.00
35K 04:38:26 44:07:00 08:50 6.80
40K 05:23:59 45:33:00 09:07 6.59
finish time 05:42:23 18:24:00 08:24 7.16

Over-all I’m quite chuffed. All that is left to do is to actually train before the next one.

And there in lies a lesson I feel. I am nothing that society would consider exceptional. Despite the rumours (hehe), I’m not a super hero. I most certainly do not have special strengths, or at least none that I am aware of. So it is true that anybody and everybody is capable of running a marathon. I do believe there are certain things that are required though.

Training should certainly be one of them. I have done quite well having left it out, but it was pointed out to me – how much better would I have done if I had trained? That said, there is no need to go overboard (unless you want to), so extreme eating plans and giving up alcohol (shudders…) are not necessary.

Support is an essential component. I occurred to me very early on in the race that if I was doing this solely for myself, I would probably have given up in the first few miles. I can’t think of any reason to put yourself through something like that for your own sake. But if you know that there are people supporting you and willing you on – people who believe in you – people you don’t want to let down – then it’s an entirely different proposition. I am blessed with such people and they were a major factor in my ability to do what I have done.

The other component, and again one that I view as essential, is something you truly and passionately believe in. For me, the Royal British Legion are not just a charity I promised to raise money for so I could run the Marathon. They are a charity I believe in deeply and have wanted to help for years now.

Many of you will know that my brother was in the Army. It seems it was always something that he was going to do and he had my whole-hearted support in doing so. However, there are obviously risks associated with the job, risks that the individual cannot necessarily control. And I am more than aware that the hardships faced by those serving in the Forces not only affect them, but also their families and friends. I remember the moments of fear and heartache when my brother was in Iraq – wondering what he was doing, hoping he would return safely.

The Royal British Legion have helped to support those who serve in the Armed Forces, their families and loved ones for over 90 years. It is a sad truth that practically no individual returns from a combat deployment without being changed either mentally, physically or both. The Legion provides support for all who need it, whether in providing assistance in getting used to life without a limb to dealing with the horrors that an individual has witnessed. They help those leaving the military in settling back into civilian lives. They help families cope when their loved ones comes back having changed. And they help families when their loved ones never come back at all.

That was one of my motivations for running the marathon, to help support those who had not been as lucky as me.

There is still plenty of time to support me in my goal, to help the Royal British Legion improve lives. You can give online at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/SeanLitchfield or message me at marathon@seanlitchfield.co.uk. Any help you can offer will be immensely appreciated.

So this is for my brother. This is for my family. This is for my friends and supporters.

This is for my Forces family. This is for all those waiting for the loved ones to come home. And this is especially for those whose loved ones never will…

From someone who can’t quite believe what he has done and is tremendously humbled by the experience.

Sean xx

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The Last Supper

Well, the end is nigh!

Apologies to all that I have not updated this blog after the Expo on Wednesday. Between the odd family excitement and trying to tidy up at work before my week off, the update just didn’t happen. Most unforgivable, I know.

The Expo itself was a bit of an anticlimax, if truth was told. The initial part – completing the registration – was over in under ten minutes. You get given your pack containing your running number and kit bag. You then get your timing tag. Your done – literally it is that involved!

The remainder of the Expo was less than I expected. There were displays by all the main contenders – Nike/Addidas (separate stalls but I couldn’t tell you which was which). Garmin and a couple of other sports watch providers had displays. There were multiple suppliers of energy drinks/gels/nastinesses (I have yet to find one that doesn’t make me heave). And the purveyors of very loud head bands (over my dead body!!!).

About a third of the stands present were for the charities. Whilst I can see the aim and more than understand the reasoning, I cannot see the logic. If you’re racing on Sunday then picking a charity on the Wednesday-Saturday prior seems a little last-minute. They all seemed highly unsubscribed and I did nothing to assist them – I’d picked my charity long before the Legion accepted me!

Apart from that, there was the Virgin gym people, who make you take your shoes off and stand one the magic scales, holding the magic electrodes. Following a short hair-raising experience (well, it would have been – if I’d had hair) they proceeded to tell me I was actually quite fit.

I know – I didn’t believe them either.

And there was the pasta party – a canteen set-up in which you get pasta plus topping, with a lump of bread, an apple and a bottle of water. Good for carbs etc, but pasta doesn’t really keep that well – the result was probably best described as “mushy”.

And that was the lot. I treated myself to a set of sports socks, knee braces and an ego-boost (I’m fit – hah!!!). Apart from that, I’ve got one number twice (on two bits of paper) and a tag to attach to my shoes.

So that was that.

And so it comes to today. This afternoon, I picked up my rucksack, check I’d got everything (basically emptied it, made sure everything was there, then re-packed it). And hit the road. A bus into Leicester, a (delayed) train to London St Pancras, a tube to London Bridge, a train to Bexley and a taxi to the Holiday Inn (I could have walked, but chances are I’d have got lost!). And here I am.

I have had the “Marathon Buffet” – basically for a (not so small) fee, there’s a three course buffet made of pasta/potato meals. Problem being that I don’t eat on my own in restaurants – so you eat quickly. You apparently need to “carb load” (ie eat lots), so you eat too much – too quickly.

And all coupled with the fact that you don’t really want to eat, because you feel sick. I have never felt so anxious or nervous about any of my exploits. Generally I can face most things with a touch of ignorance and a decent dollop of sarcasm. This, it appears, is disturbing even my most inner self (whoever he is).

On a brighter note, I’m feeling very at home here. In fact, Leicester has apparently followed me – there are four people (one runner and three supporters) here from Woodhouse Eves (near-ish Anstey). I’ve shared a couple of pints with them (or rather – I’ve drank pints whilst they have – sharing pints is very unhygienic). It’s good to know there’s a bit of Leicester supporting me from the sidelines (not to discourage those of you a little further afield).

There may even be a lift home in the offing!

So all is well. I have had a more than decent meal. I have had a few (temptation/nerves where too much) pints. And I am retiring (to bed – I fear there’s more than another 30 years before that’s an entirely accurate statement).

I’ll be back online in the morning. The alarm is set for 0530 hrs (to translate for those not so inclined, that’s “Oh my Dear God, I never even knew this time of day existed” o’clock). I am in fear. I am stilling contemplating throwing up…

But it seems I’m not alone.

Sleep well.
(Doubt if I will).
Sean xx

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Off to London!

Well folks, the big day is approaching – in four days I will be racing through the streets of London in one of the World’s largest sporting events.

I’m terrified!!!

In all seriousness, the prospect is absolutely thrilling, infinitely daunting and unbelievably scary. I know I will be on top of the World when I have finished – it’s just the preceding 26.2 miles that worry me!

As I type, I am winging my way to London to attend the Virgin London Marathon Expo at the ExCel Centre in the Docklands. Here I will complete the final registration, be given my running number and tracker tag thing, and have sporty people try to sell me things that will dramatically improve my performance overnight (well, that’s the hope!).

If nothing else, it’s a day out!

I’ll do a full report shortly – and more of the final countdown!

There is still plenty of time to sponsor me – go to http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/seanlitchfield – or text me, call me, Facebook me, email me (marathon@seanlitchfield.co.uk). The choices are endless.

And apologies for the lack of bells and whistles on this post – this is the first I’ve ever done from my phone, so I’ve no idea how it’ll turn out! Ain’t technology great!

London, here I come!

Sean xx

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Off to London!

Well folks, the big day is approaching – in four days I will be racing through the streets of London in one of the World’s largest sporting events.

I’m terrified!!!

In all seriousness, the prospect is absolutely thrilling, infinitely daunting and unbelievably scary. I know I will be on top of the World when I have finished – it’s just the preceding 26.2 miles that worry me!

As I type, I am winging my way to London to attend the Virgin London Marathon Expo at the ExCel Centre in the Docklands. Here I will complete the final registration, be given my running number and tracker tag thing, and have sporty people try to sell me things that will dramatically improve my performance overnight (well, that’s the hope!).

If nothing else, it’s a day out!

I’ll do a full report shortly – and more of the final countdown!

There is still plenty of time to sponsor me – go to http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/seanlitchfield – or text me, call me, Facebook me, email me (marathon@seanlitchfield.co.uk). The choices are endless.

And apologies for the lack of bells and whistles on this post – this is the first I’ve ever done from my phone, so I’ve no idea how it’ll turn out! Ain’t technology great!

London, here I come!

Sean xx

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Hip Replacement

Well, another interesting week in the run-up to the Virgin London Marathon

Work of course has been crazy for most of this year. I was commenting to one of my colleagues only the other day that I seem to be rushed off of my feet constantly, yet making absolutely no progress. It genuinely seems months since I did my “proper” job, to the point where I’m not entirely sure that I remember what I do anymore. One of the bosses went off to Vietnam for two and a half weeks, which has left me picking up some of his stuff. The other has also been off this week, so I’ve been pretty much in charge of the company – in my experience, that always sounds better than it is!

I have also been attempting to get a noise limiting device fitted to one of our sites in Leicester – the council have received complaints from the neighbours, who apparently woke up one day and were surprised to find that there’s been a pub on the estate since it was built, and that pubs generate noise! So we’ve had this device fitted – or nearly. They were supposed to fit it last Friday, but let me down at 9.15pm the night before. They were then supposed to fit it on Wednesday, but cancelled at 9.30am on that morning. So eventually they fitted it at 11pm yesterday – only they didn’t arrive until around 2pm! And they’ve got to come back today to complete the job, as they didn’t bring all of the right stuff. They’re “aiming” for noon, so I’ll probably head over early evening time…

But the big news of the moment is that my 81 year old grandmother has had her hip replaced. Unfortunately the arthritis in her left hip had left her almost immobile, so she has finally taken the plunge and had the operation done. She went in at 7am yesterday, we in theatre by around 9.30pm and out a few hours later. After a decent spell in recovery (apparently they couldn’t get her temperature up), she’s back on the ward and doing well. If all goes to plan, she’ll be up and walking today, stairs tomorrow and running marathons by the end of the week…

Which brings us nicely to the next point…

It is now only 9 days to go until the Virgin London Marathon. To say that I’m starting to get a little nervous is to miss the point entirely. Training has been more than interrupted by the work/family/everything jumble which I have currently been enjoying – this is not me making excuses, and this is certainly not me explaining failures.

I will complete the Virgin London Marathon, although I’m not particularly worrying about doing it in any sort of time. Just completing this first one will do me.

Well that, and raising lots and lots of money for the Royal British Legion! The Legion is a fantastic cause helping those who really have given everything for their country and have endured things that most of us could not imagine. It supports them in coping with what they have seen, in rehabilitating them if they are disabled and in transitioning back into civilian life. Not only does the Legion support current and ex Armed Forces members with these things and more, they are also there for their families through the difficulties of coping while loved ones are away, right through the spectrum to coping when those loved ones will never come home.

I can think of no better cause, especially when it comes to inflicting 26.2 miles of torment on myself!

I hope you will support me and the Legion, and give generously. May I take this moment to politely remind those of you who are waiting until nearer the time – the time is upon us! In only 9 days, Sean will be pounding the streets of London (or at least plodding down the streets of London).

And he’s terrified!

As always, you may pledge your support in a number of ways. The easiest is my “Virgin Money Giving” page – http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/SeanLitchfield. Any money donated through this (plus gift aid) goes directly and instantly to the Legion, so they can put it to work right away and continue to improve lives.

You can also Facebook me, message me on LinkedIn, email me (marathon@seanlitchfield.co.uk), text me, call me, send a messenger pigeon – however you contact me, please support me in this adventure!

For me, it’s the chance of a lifetime. For the Royal British Legion, it’s the ability to make peoples lives better. Please support us, and this April 22nd we can change lives.

Sean xx

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Three Weeks to Marathon!!!

Well, this is it – less than three weeks until Sean runs the Virgin London Marathon! RBL Poppy

To say that I’m nervous about it is to miss the opportunity to use some of the English language’s more colourful descriptions…

As throughout the build up to this event, it has been a week of mixed blessings. Highlights include having a lovely meal with my brother and his wife yesterday. Lows include some kind individual puncturing two of my tyres on Tuesday! It’s definitely been an interesting week! And work has not slowed in any way, shape or form – this is not being helped by the boss fleeing the country for two and a half weeks, thus meaning that I’ve inherited a few extra jobs for the duration.

But you good people have not logged on to read an essay of me whining! (If you have, then tough – that’s all the whining done… for today.)

I am happy to report that I’m nearly half-way towards my sponsorship total. Of course, the downside is that I’m only half-way to my sponsorship total – and this forms the minimum amount that I must raise in order to earn my place through the charity!

Of course, I personally do not think that I could be running for a better cause – the Royal British Legion. Having had a connection with the military for practically my entire life, I am in awe of the dedication and sacrifice shown by the troops. I am also personally aware of some of the difficulties faced by their families, especially when loved ones are away on tours of duty. The Legion does fantastic work in support the troops and their families, from basic financial advice right through to dealing with the ultimate loss.

This is why I ask (and beg!) that you help me in supporting this brilliant charity, safe in the knowledge that you’re also encouraging me to put myself through a load of pain as well!

You can sponsor me at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/SeanLitchfield, drop me an email (marathon@seanlitchfield.co.uk), drop me a text, find me on Facebook… the possibilities are endless! As much as you can spare, no amount too small – and certainly no upper limits!

For those of you having doubts – don’t! There is no way that I am not completing the course! I may just feel a little sore afterwards!

I have been truly touched by the support and sponsorship that I’ve already received – some of which has come from quite unexpected quarters. I hope that, with your help, we can make it possible not only for me to complete a life-time ambition, but moreover for the Legion to continue to improve lives.

As for me – I best get running!

Sean xx

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Just A Number

RBL Poppy

Well,  this is it – the start of the final countdown – the beginning of the end (etc.!). There is now less than a month to go until the big day. April the 22nd will soon be upon us and Sean will run the Virgin London Marathon.

Needless to say a lot still needs to be done!

Yesterday was an important milestone in the journey for several reasons. Obviously, it marked exactly one calendar month until the event – a fairly big deal. But as well as this, the post man delivered a very special package – my final “Marathon News” magazine, which included my running number.

I shall no longer be known as Sean. I shall now be known simply as 46369!

I will admit that this is both brilliant and terrifying! On one hand, getting into the Marathon has been something of an epic undertaking in itself – and on the other, the fact that it’s nearly here is so daunting that I cannot truly find the vocabulary to express the dread!

Not that I’m nervous, you understand…

The magazine comes with all kinds of useful details; where to go, what to do, what to do if you don’t feel well (you drop out – which is not an encouraging thing for them to say at this late stage!). There’s also lots of useful information about the “elite” groups – which is again not encouraging when they are effectively in a different league if not a different event entirely!

The magazine also included a pair of red laces for my trainers. Apparently we’re all going to were red trainings as part of the TeamRedLaces initiative to raise awareness of cholesterol. So if you notice a lot of people wearing red laces on Marathon day, that’s one of the reasons. The other reason is probably because a BBC camera man is lying down – why else would you see lots of laces?

My plans for the event are coming together nicely. I have booked into the Holiday Inn Bexley for the Saturday night as part of a special London Marathon package, which basically includes a special breakfast and a coach to the start area (the last thing I want to be doing is hitting the Underground that day!). A friend has kindly offered to cover my train travel to the event through his employer (details once confirmed), which is needless to say a great help and very much appreciated. That just leaves me – actually running the thing!

I’ve spoken to a number of people in the last few weeks who have competed either in marathons or similar events. All have been quite supportive and have basically said that no matter what training you’ve done or how prepared you are, any “game plan” you have on your first race will soon come undone, so just go with the flow and enjoy yourself. I’ve also had several people point out that the average person could walk it in six or seven hours – not entirely the point, but quite comforting nonetheless.

I have had several people ask me if I’m going to complete the course. Simple answer – YES!!! Failure is not an option – I have built up the hopes of a lot of people and I will not let them down! More importantly, I will not let myself down!

So, now to the difficult part. Having had to run for a charity through the “Golden Bond” scheme, I do have an obligation to reach a minimum sponsorship level – and I need your help!

Several of you have already sponsored me and have been very generous in your offerings. I am truly grateful to you all.

However, I now appeal to the rest of you – please help me! Whatever you can spare, no amount too small (and no amount to big!). Tell your friends, ask your bosses, grab Grannies on the street and shake until the loose change falls out….

(The management would like to politely remind you that robbery, aggravated assault and the like are all illegal, and are undertaken at the individual’s own risk…)

All joking aside, any and all help you can offer would mean the World to me. Not only are you making this little (6’8” 30 year old) boy’s dream come true, you are also helping to support the Royal British Legion in their work – and this is a cause that is very close to my heart. That I am allowed to participate in one of the greatest events in the World, in not only my thirtieth year but also an Olympic year and city, is beyond belief. That I can in any way help improve the lives and circumstances of military personnel, past and present, as well as their families – that is both humbling and overwhelming. I can think of no better reason to undertake what is essentially a form of self-torture!

So please give what you can. I have a Virgin Money Giving page (http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/SeanLitchfield) – all money donated through this page goes instantly to the Royal British Legion, as well as allowing full gift-aid donation as well.

Should you wish to make other arrangements, please drop me a line by phone, Facebook or email – marathon@seanlitchfield.co.uk.

With your help, this really can be a life-changing chance for more than just one person.

Sean xx

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