We are an LGBT Family, blogging about life and our family adventures. My Two Mums is an award winning LGBT Lifestyle blog written by two mums in love. It's a blog about the many adventures two mums and their son enjoy.
One of the most important observations I made when we became parents was that even though our new human was now our favourite human, we would make sure to keep our relationship strong. In the future that human would grow up to possibly start a family of their own and fly the nest and I want to make sure Clara and I still love the bones of each other.
We’ve had our ups and downs over the years. Various challenges we faced tested us not only as people but as a couple. But with the wisdom of a friend reminding me that marriage was a marathon and not a sprint, we have both made the effort to see each other as more than just two parents living together whom share a love of Ru Pauls Drag Race.
This year we decided to make more time for each other, spend a day just us, or go away for a weekend to party for Pride. All this has been made easier by M growing up and becoming more independent as he loves going off to Nanny or Nanna’s house for the day or weekend.
A few weeks ago we booked a day off work to attend M’s school sports day, but due to the heatwave they decided to change the date. This left us with a whole day to spend together, so we did what we do best and headed to the coast.
We are lucky to live about 30 minutes away from several beautiful coastal locations. So Clara suggested we take a trip to Lulworth Cove and climb a very steep hill whilst we are there. There is a story behind the climbing of the hill, which took place when we first visited Lulworth Cove before we moved to Dorset. We were both very overweight and unfit and took forever to climb the hill, before spending an age at the top catching our breaths.
This time we climbed the hill in hardly any time at all. We stopped only to take a few pictures of the view and then enjoyed a couple of celebratory minutes at the top, before heading down to cool our feet in the sea.
It was exactly what we needed, just time together to talk, enjoy each others company and sit in silence (something that is rare when you have a child). We’ve already planned some more time just for us in a few weeks and I really can’t wait!
Last weekend we were blessed with more beautiful weather, so Clara suggested an afternoon trip to Studland Bay, a National Trust beach in Purbeck. We usually visit Studland Bay in the Winter, so it was a nice change to experience it with the sun high in the sky.
It was a totally different experience as expected! We had no idea the beach was a popular water sports area, with paddle boards, speedy boats and banana boat rides proving popular with the hundreds of visitors on the beach. Luckily we’d arrived just before 4pm, meaning meany beach goers had already left, so we easily located a patch of sand right by the rippling waves.
We set our Brug down, got M into his swimming shorts and settled down in the sun to top up our tans. It’s a much calmer beach than Sandbanks, despite the water sports and attracts a very different type of beach goer. Sandbanks is much more high energy with people playing football/cricket or volleyball on the beach, where as Studland bay has calmer waters and lots of families with younger paddlers or older teens in wetsuits trying out the paddle boards.
M took advantage of the calmer waters and kept daring himself to wade further and further into the freezing water. He didn’t stray too far before the temptation of an ice cream lured him back onto the sand to join me on a walk to the ice cream booth. Our last two trips to Studland were rounded off with hot chocolates to warm us up, so it was nice to be enjoying an ice cream instead. The ice creams at the ice cream booth attached to the main cafe at Knoll Bay are reasonably priced and bonus, they take card! Which was a nice relief as I’d forgotten to take any cash, as I knew I didn’t need it for the car park as National Trust members are able to park for free.
The ice creams hit the spot and gave M a bonus burst of energy to practice his cartwheels on the sand. M has really started perfecting various gymnastic moves lately and it is really nice to see him focus and practice something repeatedly as his concentration usually doesn’t last too long. But as he grows he is really interested in being strong and healthy, which is a thing we are doing our best to nurture as well as we can.
With it approaching dinner time we decided to pack up our beach gear and head home. Studland Bay is only about a 45 minute drive from us, which could be shorter if we took the Chain Ferry to Poole, but unfortunately it wasn’t running.
We’ve promised ourselves that we will definitely visit Studland Bay again this Summer and enjoy some water-sports there.
Our house can get pretty busy and pretty messy with a bouncing 5, soon to be 6 year old boy and a hyperactive cockapoo puppy, both of whom lack the fundamental ability to stay in one place for more than 5 seconds at a time, especially in the half term holidays! So what better way to fill the little man’s time, than to put him to work on the chores around the house, starting with the vacuuming. It’s also perfectly timed with our latest review of the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal 2 corded vacuum cleaner.
Firstly I just wanted to say how impressed I was with the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal 2 vacuum, we’ve been test driving it around the house for a few weeks now and the quality of the clean is second to none, so much so that I honestly believe the air is cleaner and the house has this amazing freshness to it. We have been living in our new build home for just over 18 months now, so there really isn’t too much dust or dirt around to begin with but it really has refreshed the new carpets immensely.
Here are some of the features which I find make this vacuum so good, starting with the interconnecting heads. Gone are the days of juggling the different heads to try and reach those stubborn places, such as the gap between the wall and the staircase or in the corners of the room. The Big Ball Animal 2 allows you to attach each vacuum head into one another giving you more length to reach up high and also reduce stress trying to juggle all the different heads around the home and with the easy release function, it just gets easier and easier, I think it’s a genius idea.
Now, for anyone who has a pet in the home, like us or even anyone who suffers from the madness that is long hair, which thankfully I no longer have to worry about, you will know just how frustrating it can be when you have to sit and try to either untangle or cut fur or hair out of the head, its time consuming and unhygienic. However, Dyson have thought about this in great detail and have developed a new tangle-free turbine tool which works with cogs, as opposed to a brush bar, therefore eliminating the cause of broken vacuum heads due to too much hair.
I also love the self-adjusting suction, it just makes vacuuming the house so easy and there is no fiddling with buttons when moving onto the carpet or onto hard floors. It also means that I can leave M to it and he won’t have to constantly ask me to change it for him , only kidding, but I think this is a great feature and for such a simple idea, it really helps speed up this chore.
This vacuum is also bag-less which I like, it’s so much easier and more hygienic to empty the contents of the cylinder straight into the bin and no messing about or getting stuck unable to vacuum when you run out of bags and it’s really easy to remove the cylinder from the unit.
The Big Ball feature also makes the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal 2 really easy to manoeuvre around the home and you don’t find yourself getting stuck around door frames all the time. The only negative I would say about this is it makes the vacuum a little heavier, especially when on the stairs. But this could be a great way to keep fit.
Now I’ve saved my favourite feature till last, because I think it’s an absolutely fantastic idea. We discovered it when we set M to work on the living room and we heard an excited shout after about 2 or 3 minutes, it turns out the Dyson Big Ball Animal 2 has an anti-tip function and actually picks itself up. We’ve all been in the annoying situation when you pull the cylinder too hard and it tips over and you have to walk over and pick it up, well this vacuum just wobbles itself back upright when it falls. Again, so so simple but makes a massive difference!
The Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal 2 retails at £399, which for a Dyson product which is robust and makes life cleaning the home so easy, I think it’s worth every penny.
We were sent the Dyson Big Ball Animal 2 for the purpose of this review by AO.com
Well I didn’t think we could beat the first Bank Holiday in May, as the weather was STUNNING! But seriously, we were spoiled for a second time with even hotter weather than the first.
With thunderstorms predicted for the afternoon, we woke, dressed as quickly as possible and packed the car for the beach. Luckily we only live 20 minutes from one of the most beautiful beaches in Dorset, so we weren’t worried about getting stuck in endless Bank Holiday traffic.
As we pulled into the car park it was very obvious that several hundred other people had the same idea as us. But thankfully as we’d got up and dressed early we were pleased to locate a space quite speedily. We were out of the car and onto the beach in record time, clutching possibly the least amount of beach day accessories we’ve ever visited with.
As M grows we seem to pack less and less for days out as we find it too much of a hassle to lug mountains of things and a small boy to various locations. As strong as M is he isn’t quite at picnic cooler carrying or beach bag holding status. We’ve also managed to accumulate the right amount of items to make our beach trip rather awesome. Our trip to Lanzarote last year, provided us with an awesome orange rubber ring, a collab with The Brug has given us our must use rug for our sunbathing needs and our rather fab Toucan was the result of a random trip to Primark one evening.
The beach was already buzzing with sunbathers and the excited screams of children braving the freezing cold sea. We found a great little spot just in front of the life guard tower and got straight to slathering ourselves in sun cream.
With the temperature soaring M and I decided to head into the freezing water. Last year M was super nervous about entering the sea, but after a trip to Cornwall he developed a new level of confidence with his swimming. It was like watching a different child swimming in the sea. He was so confident with his swimming that I had to get him to swim back into shore as my own confidence in the water and my ability to rescue him if he went too far was not that great.
We enjoyed taking turns between swimming in the water to cool down, with frisbee throwing on the beach. After an hour sunning ourselves, Clara surprised us with some ice creams to cool us down. It really felt like the most perfect way to spend a hot sunny Bank Holiday.
With our car park ticket running out, my skin going slightly pink and M being ready to get some shade, it was soon time to head home. Thankfully the predicted thunderstorms never arrived, so M and Clara spend the afternoon having a water fight in the garden.
It was the perfect end to our Bank Holiday weekend and a bonus to have two great Bank holidays in one month.
This year will be our 5th year at Camp Bestival and I’ll be honest, it’s been my favourite part of the Summer each year we’ve attended. Back in 2014 when we discovered we would be heading down to Lulworth for our first time at Camp Bestival, I frantically started searching for tips to help me prep for our family festival weekend.
Each year we’ve had different experiences, learned new tips, seen great acts, discovered different ways to enjoy ourselves and felt we should share some tips for those visiting for the first time this year.
Make a list about what you plan to take to Camp Bestival.
I love a good list and find it helps me relax a little when it comes to prepping for a weekend away. Divide your list into sections like Camping (what you will need on the camp site, e.g. Tent, sleeping bags, air beds etc.)/ Clothes (Costumes, day to day wear, spares, gear for all weathers)/ Food (if you want to save money then having a couple of meals at the tent can help)/ Extras (glow sticks, glitter and bubbles).
Once you have you list, try and halve it as you’re going to have to lug all that and your family down to your camp site. Which brings me nicely to my next tip.
Be prepared to carry everything to your camp site.
The general camp site at Camp Bestival is HUGE and hilly. Unless you pay to book a Festaxi (which are genius, but do come at a price), then you will be carrying every thing to where you want to pitch your tent. If you don’t mind a long walk to the festival site each day then it’s easy to roll up and pitch right as you leave the car park. But if, like us you like to be closer to the action, then you’re going to need a way to get everything up and down the hills between the car park and where the action takes place.
For the first few years we used a wagon, which did the trick, but as M has grown we decided to switch it up last year and buy a trailer that is usually attached to bikes. It’s all about what works for you, but practice your packing Tetris before the day and make sure you are prepared for multiple trips back to the car. I love setting up day as my Fitbit steps are usually rather epic by the end of the day.
Bring snacks and food you can cook at the tent.
If you are happy to splash the cash and you don’t want to eat at your tent, then there are SO many awesome food stalls to eat at across the Camp Bestival site. But if you want to save a little money so you can buy some Camp Bestival merchandise or get your kids a bubble gun or dino tail, then taking some snacks and food will help you out.
We take snacks for M to munch on throughout the day and things like cereal, bags of brioche or tins of beans and sausages and bread to knock up a quick meal at the tent. We have also found this is a great time to let your kids unwind for a bit before you head back onto the main site to dance the night away.
Prepare for sunshine or rain.
We’ve experienced Camp Bestival in glorious sunshine as well as the heaviest rain and realised we need to go more prepared for the extremes of the British weather this year.
But don’t let the weather put you off having a good time. When the sun is shining the cocktails are cool and refreshing and when it’s raining the dance tents and kids craft tents are great places to seek some shelter, trust me the fun continues!
Sun cream, shades and shorts are the way forward if the sun is shining, but it’s also worth packing wellies, waterproofs and wipes (for muddy legs). A great tip I learned after last year’s Camp Bestival was to pack a large Blue Ikea bag in case of rain. Pop it by the inside of the front door of your tent if it rains, and then step into it as you enter your tent to remove your wellies. This keeps all the water in the bag, meaning you can empty it outdoors when the rain stops rather than attempting to mop up the inside of your tent.
Buy a programme when you arrive.
A programme helps you plan your weekend as well as helping you to find out where all the main action is on site. You also get a handy lanyard with the timings of the acts, that you can carry with you on site, save lugging the full programme around with you.
But don’t let the programme timings stop you from going off plan and exploring the site. There is so much to see and do and still things we are discovering for the first time on each visit. My best advice is to have little moments where you just explore and take everything in. When we did this one year we discovered some domes that we climbed inside to learn about the planets and constellations. It ended up being one of Clara’s favourite Camp Bestival moments ever!
Throw away your routine for the weekend.
Let your little one’s nap when they need to, late nights are a possibility for the smalls and with so much to do on site you may find yourself with a tired little person. This is where a wagon or trailer is perfect for midday naps or a snooze on site at night whilst you dance to the main act on the Castle stage. M has slept through the loudest music, snoozed as the sun was shining high and fell asleep in minutes as happy campers sang loudly within 5 ft of our tent.
You know your children better than anyone so if you do plan to keep to a routine, make sure you have someone you can tag team back at the tent so you don’t miss out on all the action.
Let yourself go.
There will be costumes, dancing, singing, parades and more glitter than at a Gay bar during Pride weekend. Camp Bestival is the perfect place to really let yourself step away from the sometimes grey day to day of Monday to Friday life. Sing at the top of your voice, dance like you’re living your best life and paint your face with the brightest face paints you can find.
It took us a couple of years to fully embrace the festival way as neither Clara and I were festival goers as teens, so it really was like learning a new way of life. But now that M is into dressing up in various costumes we are looking at how we can put more fun into our festival experience.
Pack a powerbank.
You are going to want to take photos, tweet about how much fun you’re having and share your favourite eats on Instagram and all that takes up battery power. For £20 you can pick up a powerbank from Amazon that can keep your phone powered for the whole weekend. It’s also handy to have power on your mobile so you can maintain contact with your friends and family on site in case you split up to catch different acts.
Just don’t forget to charge it before you leave home!
Do something new.
My final tip is something I have tried to do each time we have been to Camp Bestival. It could be eat something you’ve never eaten before, listen to a new style of music, step outside your comfort zone with some glow in the dark face paint. You may discover something you really enjoy.
As busy, working mums to a young growing boy, who always seems to be hungry, no matter how much we feed him, I constantly worry about the amount of ‘Healthy’ foods M is eating throughout the day. That is why we have teamed up with Beko and the ‘Eat Like a Pro’ campaign to encourage our children to enjoy eating healthy foods in a fun and enjoyable way.
Over the years we have been very open and honest about how we have struggled with M’s eating from a very young age, and as first time parents we have also often found ourselves at our wits end trying to come up with new ideas. The most memorable struggle we encountered with M’s eating was when he was around 2 years old, we were in a big rush and decided to feed him a healthy microwave fish pie meal designed for kids, which he loved!
However, he loved it so much, from that day forward he would only eat that particular fish pie, every, single, day, for what seemed like an entire lifetime. The turning point came when they eventually modified the recipe to include cheese and that was the end of that, he hasn’t touched fish pie since.
Although this was obviously fantastic news and we were delighted that our son wouldn’t turn into a fish pie, the panic soon started to set in, what is he going to eat?! Is he going to starve?! How are we going to deal with this?! Luckily, M did eat and we then entered the pizza phase.
As parents we have all encountered struggles when it comes to meal times and I’m sure most of us have our own individual battles when trying to get our children to eat a healthy balanced meal. Beko have recently conducted a survey into the healthy eating habits of families and children, in which they asked 2,000 parents with children up to the age of 10 if they manage to encourage them to eat their ‘5 a day’ and I was shocked to read that 50% of parents have actually given up trying.
Kirsty and I are lucky enough that M has always enjoyed eating fruit, which we can pack into him for that extra bit of goodness and we are just also turning a corner with salad veggies such as cucumber, raw carrot, sweetcorn and tomatoes, even if all he does with them is suck out the juicy centre (yummy!) but it’s a step in the right direction, but I’m always thinking to myself, how long will this last before he gets bored?
Following the results from the survey Beko have realised just how hard it is to make eating healthy a fun experience for the entire family and are inspiring families like yours and mine to have ‘fun with food’ by creating food art from healthy fruits and vegetables by making plate faces.
Kirsty, M and I have had a go at trying ourselves. I’ll be completely honest by saying it was hard to get M into the spirit at first, once he saw the foods on offer, however, once we got going and he realised how much fun we were having, as a whole family, it was an absolute pleasure to see him trying the new foods and actually liking them. He was also super proud of his creation and boosted his confidence levels for the day as well.
So if you are struggling to encourage your kids to eat healthier, then I would strongly recommend you head on over to the ‘Eat Like a Pro’ website for some inspiration on how to make their ‘5 a day’ fun.
I’m not sure I can recall as gorgeous a Bank Holiday Monday as the one we got at the start of May. I knew we were going to get some lovely weather, but my gosh it delivered.
Clara and I wanted to make sure we made more use of our garden this year, so we spent the Saturday afternoon before the Bank Holiday, purchasing garden furniture and some nice solar lights. M stayed with his Nanny Saturday evening, so it was a nice surprise for him Sunday when he returned home.
By Monday the weather was at Summer levels, we spent the morning at our local village fayre, where M and I volunteered for an hour on the Scout stall. We then headed home with a disposable BBQ, a desire to get the paddling pool filled as quickly as possible and a need to get out of our warm Scout uniforms into some shorts.
We ended up having an epic water fight with huge jugs of water which was one of those moments you feel you’ll never forget. It’s usually the small fleeting moments I find create the best memories.
After cooling down and then getting in to some dry clothes I put my Scout skills to the test by lighting the BBQ without matches. It was good practice for a future Beaver meeting, as I’ll be teaching the Beavers how to start a fire with just a fire steel and cotton wool.
Once the BBQ was lit it wasn’t long until dinner was cooked and we were sat at our new furniture eating our first garden BBQ of the year. I am looking forward to many more garden BBQs this year. Though I think I’m going to have to invest in a decent BBQ as I slightly singed (more like melted) some heat pads beneath the disposable BBQ. It would be nice to have a lovely little BBQ I can whip out of the shed and cook up some burgers without melting our camping table.
We are hopeful the coming Bank Holiday will be just as gorgeous, if not better. I’m ready for an other epic water fight.
Over the past year I have been documenting my weight loss journey over on my personal Instagram account @claranotclara. I started purely so I could keep a record of how well I’d progressed and how I’m changing as a person. Weight loss has not only changed my physical appearance but my whole outlook on life. I have found an inner confidence, which I never really knew existed. I also wanted to show people that it CAN be done and hopefully inspire others to take that leap and change their lives for the better.
As with all social media platforms, it then opens up a world of comments. I have received so many compliments and words of encouragement which spurs me on and often stops me searching through the cupboards on those challenging days. The support has been wonderfully up-lifting.
However, I have come to learn there are two types of “compliments”.
There are the ones who say
“Wow, keep going!”
“You’re doing a great job!”
“Don’t give up, keep up the good work.”
These are the ones I love to see and can turn a bad day into a flipping awesome day. I’ve never been one to fully accept a compliment. If you ask my wife, she’ll tell you that it takes a hell of a lot to actually make me take the compliment and embrace it and although my adoring wife has always complimented me, I think I struggle because I’m just not used to receiving them.
You may have ready my last post ‘Always the Chubby Girl’ in which I explain that I’ve always had weight issues and I’ve always been the person whom people just expect to be “the fat one” and the only compliments I ever really received were,
“Oh, don’t you have a nice smile”
“You have a lovely BUBBLY personality”
Just FYI, calling a person ‘Bubbly’ is not a compliment, just don’t use it, and avoid it at all costs!
Then there are the “compliments”, which are meant with the very best intentions but are fully loaded with an added “I’ll take you back down a peg or two” for good measure.
These can be “compliments” like –
“You’ve done great but don’t go too far!”
“Well done but surely you don’t need to lose any more weight”
“That’s amazing but aren’t you losing weight too fast?!”
These comments I can handle and I usually end up being dragged into conversations regarding eating disorders and how easy it can be to get too obsessed about losing weight. I know this is purely because they care and they don’t want to see things spiral out of control and it is a very important subject matter. So I take these with love and I talk it out.
Then there is the stinker of a “compliment”, and this one I do not take very kindly –
“You’re actually quite pretty NOW”
Again, I can see the thought process and I’m sure they aren’t saying it to cause any offence but I find it incredibly hurtful and damn right shallow!
As I’ve already mentioned, I’ve always struggled with my weight and this in turn has always made me feel unattractive. I have never looked in a mirror and thought, you know what?! You’re actually quite a looker.
So these comments made with the best intentions, are actually confirming to me that, yes, I was right, I was highly unattractive when I was overweight, but apparently I’m not now I’ve lost a few stone. It also makes me wonder why we look at “thin” or “slim” people (or whatever adjective you wish to use) and think “attractive” because I know a lot of incredibly curvy men and women who, in my eyes, are highly attractive and I would be lucky if I was half as beautiful as them.
A person’s weight should not determine how beautiful or how attractive they are. It’s not always the conventional or conditioned idea of beauty that makes a person attractive. I know a lot of “stunners” who are incredibly self-centred and damn right rude, who think they stand taller because they have good looks. To me these people are highly unattractive and I have no time for them because they just aren’t nice people.
You’ll be surprised by just how many people have made this comment to me over the past year and each time I just do not have the words to respond and usually end up saying “Oh don’t be silly” or with spontaneous nervous laughter, which quite frankly can be highly embarrassing for everyone within ear shot. Not too long ago I was sitting with my GP and she turned to me, looked me up and down and said “Yes, you’re actually pretty now” whilst nodding her head up and down. I just sat there absolutely gobsmacked!
Kirsty has been great at trying to make light of those moments by telling me she has always found me beautiful, which I love her for but in truth, I know for a fact she is hurt by the comments as well. It’s one of those really complex situations that you find yourself in when really you should be quite flattered and should be grateful they paid you any compliment at all but you’re actually hurting quite badly on the inside.
It’s really made me think about the comments I make to other people, especially on social media where it’s easy to write something in a rush and not take a moment to think whether it’s appropriate or not. I won’t lie, I have seen a dramatic change in the way I look now, I post selfies and photos of me in my ‘Active Wear’ and I love the new shape of my face but I don’t post my pictures for anyone else but myself or because I think I’m now more attractive. I’m still the same person as before, just healthier, happier and a lot more confident in all aspects of my life. My weight does not define me as a person.
I know what you’re thinking if you’ve read the title, it’s not Easter anymore, but this is about what we did with the leftover eggs from Easter. Or more to the point West Country Mum’s leftover Easter eggs, because I’ll be honest, we didn’t have much left over chocolate.
A few weeks ago we got a message asking us if we wanted a melted Easter egg chocolate fondue on the beach and how can you refuse an invite like that. The weather was beautiful, M was raring to get into the sea and I wanted some toasted marshmallows.
It wasn’t crazy warm, but M still stripped down to his swim shorts and raced towards the sea. He spent a while running in and out of the waves before I challenged him to sit down at the edge of the water. He took the challenge and discovered exactly how cold the water was.
I loved seeing M’s confidence and love of the water. It was a huge difference from last year where he would hardly paddle in the sea. He was desperate to get in and swim, but realised this wasn’t going to be possible due to how cold it was.
To warm up we melted some chocolate eggs over a small disposable BBQ and dipped fruit and marshmallows into the melting mass of goo. It was delicious and something I think we should do every year with our Easter eggs.
I can’t wait for the Summer and all the fun we’re going to enjoy at the beach.
If you’ve found yourself here reading my experience of running the Virgin Money London Marathon 2018 and you haven’t read part 1, then head over there first to read about the first half of the run. Once you are done come back to read the second half. If you are all caught up the first half then please grab a drink and enjoy reading about my 2nd half of the Marathon.
As I crossed Tower Bridge I was very aware that the course was closing up behind me. I was determined not to run my Marathon on the path and wanted to keep ahead of the final sweeper vans. As you come off Tower Bridge you are met by a sea of people running in the opposite direction. These people are already on their final stretch having ran round Canary Wharf. It can be a bit daunting as a slower runner being faced with those running full steam still on their 22nd mile. But I was feeling boosted by seeing my family and cooled by the frozen water my mum had managed to pass me. I was also happy to see friends for the second time on the course, waving a sign for me. The bottle felt really heavy in my hands as I approached the half marathon mark, so I tipped some of the ice cold water over my back and neck to cool me down and to lighten my load.
I realised I was a bit behind on my fuelling plan due to feeling out of sorts at mile 11 so I decided to take on some salts in the form of a sachet of Pip n Nut peanut butter. It tasted amazing and did the trick in helping me focus on pushing forward. People to the left of me were dropping hard onto the barriers, the heat was picking off it’s victims one by one, with me narrowly missing being thrown up on at last 4 times by 4 different runners. The St Johns Ambulance crew were racing back and forth across the course providing oxygen and medical aid to very poorly looking runners.
I was starting to grow concerned by the water station situation as it became very obvious the stations would not be providing water for us slower runners. Luckily I chose to sip the water I was carrying to allow me to make it last as long as possible. Spectators offered us water from their backpacks, medical volunteers handed out latex gloves full of ice and a lady ran from a pub with a large bowl of ice allowing us to scoop handfuls of it onto our bodies in an attempt to keep cool.
This section seemed to go on for quite a while. I managed to make several calls to my Dad and Clara to see where they could meet me next, as I was desperate to take on more water and needed to see some friendly faces as the crowd was growing thin in places. I cranked up my music and used it to help me sing my way through the pain. As ‘Someone Out There’ by Rae Morris came on my playlist tears streamed down my face. I felt quite lonely at points through the Marathon, but when I managed to reach for my phone I was able to see so many sending me encouraging messages as they tracked me. I felt like people were really rooting for me to finish. There was no way I was going to be beaten by the hottest, biggest Virgin Money London Marathon ever. As donations pinged on my phone I reached into my bumbag, popped some Calpol instants into my mouth and chomped on them to the sounds of Eminem ‘Lose Yourself’.
Eventually I was in a tunnel and soaking up every bit of shade I could, I knew I couldn’t slow as I had developed pain in my right hip and could feel the distant sting of a blister just starting to appear on the pad of my foot. Luckily the painkillers took the edge off the pain after about 20 minutes, so again I was able to pick up the pace slightly. But my walk/run pace had grown into more of a walk walk run shuffle walk shuffle run pace. I told myself to run every time I saw a bus lane and kept my walking pace at the fastest I could handle.
Coaches, vans, lorries and cars were now overtaking at a crazy rate. The course was disappearing as I ran each step and I was convinced if I were to stop and turn around it would be like the course never existed. But somehow I managed to keep just a few steps in front of it all. A very scary moment that keeps playing in my head was when I saw a very distressed and delusional runner (due to heat I imagine) attempt to run from medical care they were receiving. They almost tipped up sideways at such a speed and hit the floor so hard. As I ran past they were attempting to provide aid as the runner cried out and seemed to have a seizure. I started to grow concerned for everyone around me, worried that someone else would succumb to the heat and due to how quiet some of the sections had grown, I was worried how long it would take someone to notice and bring help. Luckily the St Johns Ambulance seemed to be everywhere, with sweeper coaches picking up the injured and poorly runners on the course.
Clara had managed to jump on a tube from Tower Bridge and suddenly appeared at the side of the course with a bottle of water. Both M and her attempted to keep up with me as I blew kisses and charged forward, now just set on getting across the finish before the roads reopened.
Just after mile 21 my parents met me with words of encouragement. “Don’t stop!” my Dad shouted, “We are going to come with you for as long as we can”. It was then I noticed all the runners around me had picked up their own team of supporters. Passing runners soon became a mission of passing them and their families. It felt like the crowds in places may had left, but we now had our own mobile crowd. Dad worked out the pace I was at and what I needed to maintain to get in before 8 hours and soon my finish had really become a race against the clock. I was determined to finish across the official finish line before the traffic forced it on to the path.
My parents grabbed water for me as we passed charity supporters offering what little water there was left on the course. We weaved in and out of coaches, squeezed down the side of lorries full of barriers and in one point had to walk the length of 3 coaches twice to get back on the course as they moved us onto the pavement for a short section.
The run had become one of the most bizarre things I had ever considered as we battled road sweeper vans and coaches as the wheels ran over water bottles, sending them bursting towards us. I remarked to my Mum that it had started to seem like I was in my own Hunger Games film. Soon my pace was too much for my dad’s Knee to take (he is awaiting a knee op). He yelled at us to keep pushing on and said he would meet us at the finish.
Soon the London landmarks started to come thick and fast, there was no slowing down now as I asked my mum to just talk gibberish at me to take my mind off the pain. My right hip was now feeling like it was about to pop off and leave me displaced on the side of the road. The blister on the bottom of my foot was hot and sore and created a stabbing pain up my foot every time it hit the floor.
I was still managing to overtake a couple of people now reduced to shuffling towards the finish as they battled their own painful limbs. As I reached Big Ben the crowds suddenly grew again, pub goers were stood at the side of the road singing our names as we passed. I forced myself to smile, wishing to show appreciation, but looking back at photos I fear I just grimaced at them all as I held a rather tired thumbs up towards them.
The signs now changed to meters as we approached the finish. I knew Clara and M were waiting for me opposite Buckingham Palace and this helped me to keep moving one foot in front of the other. People shouted well down ladies as my mum shouted back “I’m just a supporter” as she giggled, laden down with a bright pink rucksack and picnic bag. Then I was at the corner they talk about in training, the one where you have 385 yards to go. I turned it and Clara and M were there and they joined me on the course. “Keep going, I am so proud of you” was exactly what I needed to hear from my wife as the LONGEST 385 yards of my life lay before me. Then I could see the finish line…… and I knew I had to run, I promised myself I had to finish running.
I ran with everything I had left in the tank, I saw the clock counting the seconds I was taking as the finish grew closer. When I dreamed about this moment I knew there was only one way I wanted to finish and that was with my arms held high in celebration of the enormous challenge I had just completed.
I crossed the line, my phone immediately beeped with an official notification of the time I finished and I stepped forward to receive my medal. The guy presenting my medal made me feel like the most important person on the course. In fact the way he presented my medal was almost like I’d come first. As he placed it round my neck I began to sob, he placed his arms around me and embraced me, which ordinarily would have put my mind into a meltdown, but in that moment it felt like exactly what I needed.
Goodie bags were handed out as I shuffled towards the meet and greet area, now suddenly aware of how much my body was hurting. An even longer shuffle than I ever imagined was needed to pick up my kit bag and then I was in the arms of Clara and feeling like I had become a new version of myself. I downed a recovery shake I’d instructed Clara to carry with her to the finish and was pleasantly surprised to finish without a headache or without a terrible thirst. Despite the huge water station issues on the course I had managed to keep myself hydrated in the hottest London Marathon ever.
I still can’t believe I am now a World Major Marathon runner and checked something off my life list I feared I’d never get the chance to do. By the time I crossed the finish line I had raised over £1000 for The Stroke Association and you can still donate for the next few months and it would be amazing if you did!