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Blog: My London Marathon journey

Digital Engagement Manager for The Salvation Army Gaby ran the Virgin London Marathon on 26 April 2015. Read her blog post where she shares the highs and lows of her gruelling training regime three months ahead of race day...

And while I pause to complain about my minor self-inflicted ailments, there are people out there who really need my support.

As I write this, my thighs feel as tight as violin strings. I despair crossing roads because my legs are so stiff, I may get run over if I don't get to the other side in time. I have unattractive hollow lumps forming on my toes and my skin is recovering from sores as my running gear chafes against my skin. That’s one for the shopping list – more Vaseline.

Not only that, I am still experiencing muscle fatigue after a 13-mile run 5 days ago! FIVE DAYS AGO! Soaking in a hot steaming bath, which I have done every night as recommended by my beauty therapist sister, has done little to ease the twinges in my quadriceps. That’s another word for the group of muscles at the front of the thigh, by the way. (I am starting to spurt anatomical language now after the countless health blogs and magazines I am reading.) I feel so grateful for the lift at work, and bagging that spare seat on the Northern Line train this morning meant a heavenly commute for my poor aching legs.

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Looking back to last September, I am really wondering why I jumped for joy on receiving that ballot place. Evidently, I forgot that there was the long road (all 42 km of long road) of gruelling training sessions ahead of me – and instead focused on the excitement of fundraising and the prestige of running one of the world’s most famous road races.

There’s no doubt I was born to be a runner. I enjoy it. I like the thrill of getting out in the crisp winter air, feeling invigorated as I pilot new running routes around London. The only thing I despise and really despise is stopping for the little red man at crossings, causing me to jump frantically up and down like a frog on a lily pad so I don’t lose momentum. Yes, admittedly, I am one of those people now. And amblers! Don’t get me started on amblers! They seriously get in the way. Those 5 km (3.1 miles) and even 10 km runs (6.2 miles) are basically ‘like a walk in the park for me’. But no one could have prepared me for a 26.2-mile slog. Oh, did I mention my legs really hurt?

I attempted a half marathon training run last week – a personal target I set myself after building up to increase my mileage. But the added strain of tensing my limbs trying not to break my neck on black ice and snow in my hometown of Leeds has wreaked even more havoc on my body.

And while I pause to complain about my minor self-inflicted ailments, there are people out there who really need my support.

I need to remember the people in poverty, people who are homeless, people who are older and vulnerable, people who have been trafficked, people who face barriers to employment and people who want to be reunited with long-lost family members. These are the members of our society who can benefit from the compassionate practical and spiritual support provided by The Salvation Army – the inspiring church and charity I have worked for over the past two and a half years.

When people are hurting, the good ol’ Sally Army are there for them.

The thought of those people in need and The Salvation Army who does so much for them – and without discrimination – drives me to keep training and inflicting more pain on myself.

And, as my Virgin London Marathon e-newsletter reminded me this week: ‘Winter miles, April smiles…’

Lesson learnt; don’t moan (except on above blog post); remember as a fundraiser you sometimes have to endure a little pain to help others who are in even more pain than you.

If you have a similar story to share while fundraising for The Salvation Army, please email challenge@salvationarmy.org.uk, with the subject ‘My Fundraising Journey’.

Inspired by Gaby's marathon efforts? Fancy running London in 2016? Click here for more details.

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