James' Marathon Why did you want to take part in this event? What was your motivation? I had taken part in two half marathons in my life before (3 or 4 years prior to this challenge) and found the training pretty tough and the race even harder. Whenever I finished, I thought to myself, how does anyone run double this distance?! I wanted to find out. Why did you want to do it for Lucy Air Ambulance? Not only did I want to challenge myself and find out how far I can push myself, but I wanted to do this in a prestigious event for an exceptionally worthy cause. The combination of a personal challenge mixed with the opportunity to raise money for an amazing charity, like Lucy Air Ambulance, was enough of a motivation for me to take part. Tell us about the challenge event. How did it go? Do you have any memorable moments? The London Marathon was one of the hardest days of my life - a real physical and mental battle. The training went very well and I set myself an ambitious target of 3 hours 30 minutes (this was my first marathon), meaning I needed to run at 8 minutes per mile (average) for the duration. During my training, I felt comfortable at around 7:45 per mile, so I was confident going into the event. My longest training run was 21 miles, which was still tough, but in the end, nothing could prepare me for the challenge of the day itself. Reflecting on the challenge event, how do you feel about it now? What positive feelings do you have about it? Huge nerves, bunching of people with no space to get a good running line and cold legs after standing on the start line for a while, were all things that made the day itself slightly different to training. The first 8 miles were very busy with little room to move and no chance to gain more pace than the people around you. Around mile 5 I struggled with a stitch, which remained for miles 5 - 15 and around mile 15, I seemingly hit the dreaded 'wall', feeling physically exhausted with heavy legs. The last 11 miles were a huge struggle, with a lot of walking, talking to myself and essentially just getting through to the finish, slowing from 8 minutes per mile to around 10:30. In the end, I had to forget about my target time and just get through to the finish. It was one of the hardest days of my life, but also one of the best. The whole event was probably the closest I will get to feeling like a 'professional athlete', with people cheering you on the whole way and encouraging you to keep going. The training I found easy - I actually enjoyed it in the end. The sacrifices were the hardest part - missing drinks/dinners/parties with friends and getting up early every weekend for that long run. But after running in the event and seeing what it means to Lucy Air Ambulance, I realised it was all worth it in the end. At the moment, in terms of doing another marathon, I'm saying "Never again!". Let's see what happens when the legs recover :-) Who would you like to thank? I would like to thank everyone at the charity for choosing me to represent them and showing constant support throughout. I couldn't have done it without that support. Also to my family, friends and girlfriend for putting up with my moaning about sore legs, coping with the 'boring one' going home early on a Saturday night to prepare for my Sunday morning run and for the support throughout, particularly on the day itself. Any advice for people thinking of doing an event like this? Any fundraising tips? If you're thinking of doing a marathon, don't do it! :-). In all seriousness, it is one of those things that you can say you've conquered and done in your life. Whenever there are hard moments in training or in the event itself, I can assure you, at the end when you finish, it will all make sense. If it's not a challenge, then it's not worth it. But whether it's your first marathon or first 10k run, whatever is a challenge to you is worth testing yourself for. They say you learn most about yourself when you push yourself to the limits and see how far you can push your body and that certainly is true. Regarding fundraising, the harder the challenge and more surprising it is for your family/friends/colleagues that you're taking part, the easier it will be to get that sponsorship. Otherwise, don't stop talking about it - tell everyone and make sure they spread the word. Not only about the challenge and the great cause you're raising money for, but make them know how hard it is. That's when the moaning about training can really pay off in donations - sympathy donations are worth just as much! Final piece of advice for anyone thinking of doing an event like this: challenge yourself and just keep going, never give up!