My farewell to marathon running

Running connects me to the euphoria of life.”  11169536_877377572309075_411439501413209105_o My 14th and last ever marathon and what a beautiful finale it was despite ending up in A &   E and having three stitches at the end of it!  The thought of not experiencing the elation of completing a marathon again feels almost like a bereavement – it is going to leave a huge void in my life, but life goes on, and I am sure there is another sporting challenge just around the corner. The London Marathon is quite simply the best day of the year in our beautiful capital city –   a record 38,000 runners tackling a 26.2 mile course around many of the city’s landmarks. The support and goodwill from the crowds is phenomenal. Despite all the doom and gloom in the news, marathon day reminds us of our shared humanity – people united in their passion for running, strangers helping each other out, some even crossing the finish-line #handinhand this year. Whether you’re running for a PB or for a charity you believe in, completing the 26.2 mile course is no easy feat. I am so glad that I took part yesterday. Having been told after an MRI a few months ago that I had torn the surface cartilage in my knee-cap (“chondral damage to the medial facet of the patella”) and that I should abandon my marathon training-plan, I agonised over whether to still take part. In the end after consulting my surgeon, I decided to do it as a celebration, and also to raise money for Gende Tesfa School in Ethiopia which I visited last month for Partners For Change Ethiopia, an amazing charity which helps children living in very poor communities in Ethiopia: http://www.justgiving.com/Sarah-Parfitt1 11157321_1618682478344687_1320996913_o Given my injury, I thought that I would need to walk or skip around the course, but in the end, I surprised myself and jogged all 26.2 miles in 4 hours 21 minutes which is a long way from my PB of 3 hours 44 but then, this was always going to be a different marathon experience for me. It was never going to be about the time and it was #AllAbouttheChild. I was swept around by the atmosphere and the live music. I absolutely loved it! For the first time ever, I ditched my walkman and was energised by the crowds and the sound of thousands of feet pounding the streets of London. If the going got tough, I remembered the message which Gende Tesfa School sent me at the weekend, which was incredibly moving.

The only time I stopped during the race was at Mile 7, when I dropped my running-beans, bent over to pick them up, and a fellow runner accidentally flattened me to the ground. It was completely my fault not his, but I was in a different zone and wasn’t thinking clearly. Adrenalin carried me around the course and it was only at the end of the race that I realise I had cut my knee quite badly. I ended up having 3 stitches at High Wycombe Hospital last night. On a plus note, I fell on my good knee! When I first embarked on my first London Marathon in 2003, I had no idea that my fun-running career would take me all over the world and be the trigger for so many new adventures and friendships – Berlin, Vienna, New York, Kathmandu, Tiberius, Zurich, Cardiff and seven London Marathons. As a child, I believed that I was useless at sport, but over the last 12 years, I have achieved things which I never thought was possible – for instance, being the second woman across the line at the Kathamdu Marathon back in 2005. I now know to quote Sport England that #thisgirlcan. I would like to say a very big thank-you to Cookham Running Club and the BBC Running Club and for all their support. Steve Wehrle, the former chairman of BBC Running Club, who is now 67, completed his 50th marathon yesterday! I would also like to thank the friends and colleagues who taken the trouble to come out and support me or sponsor me over the years. I will come and watch you next year! Most of all, I would like to thank my wonderful husband Damian and my gorgeous boys Josh and Jack for their love, patience and understanding. If you feel like a running challenge in 2016, I would definitely recommend doing the London Marathon. Whether you do it in 3 hours or 7 hours, it will empower you – I guarantee that if can conquer your doubts and fears, your legs will do the rest. For me another marathon continues, I have raised £2,583.25 so far for Gende Tesfa School but need £6000 for fund a Breakfast Club and play-area. Please do get in touch if you can help or know someone who can! Mob: 07900 4117 15

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My last marathon and our beautiful Swedish ski-retreat

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April 13th, 2015

We are currently flying at a height of 29,5000 feet over Sweden on our way back from a wonderful family skiing adventure. Seven days of fun-filled escapism, including husky-sledding and toboganning on the snow-capped slopes of Bydalenfjallen with my husband and two children, Joshua and Jack. When we touch down at Heathrow Terminal 5, whatever the landing, it will be back to reality with a bump.

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So with the London Marathon looming in 2 weeks’ time, how did we end up going on a skiing holiday I hear you ask?! Well, we bought the skiing holiday at a pre-school event 2 years ago and booked it last year, and I was only offered  the London Marathon place at Christmas-time.

As it turns out, the timing was perfect. My legs (and my mind!) needed a break from training, and I needed to recharge my physical and psychological batteries. A couple of weeks ago, I went to my surgeon Dr Martin Logan after experiencing some pain in my left-knee. The news was gutting. Martin said that I now have “chondral damage to the medial facet of the patella” – in layman’s terms, the surface cartilage on my left knee-cap has split. Martin said: “this has to be your last marathon Sarah.”

There was a silence. Marathon fun-running has been a major part of my life and my identity for the last 12 years but I am definitely going to heed Martin’s advice and because of my injury, I will probably need to walk and jog around the course. But I want to savour the moments and for it to be a joyful celebration. My main objective this time is to raise money for the children at Gende Tesfa School. I made a commitment to the children and teachers there when I visited them in March, and I don’t want to break that promise. I want to help the school with its Breakfast Club and donate some money towards a new playground:

http://www.justgiving.com/Sarah-Parfitt1

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Our Swedish holiday has provided me with some much  needed time to reflect and some beautiful family-time– I skied every day and did one magical one-hour run through the mountains. It was a feast for the senses – It took me through forests and next to frozen lakes. Locals told me afterwards that there had been sightings of a bear 3 kms away. Fortunately, I didn’t come face to face with one…..

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