Back in November 2011 we told you about a punishing challenge fundraiser Ruth Walters had set for herself: finish three marathons in three months to raise money for Pancreatic Cancer UK.
Now her gruelling training sessions are done: Ruth crossed the finish line of her final marathon, wrapping up a stonking 9 months of intense effort. Well done Ruth, and indeed, thank you for every last ounce of energy you put into your challenge!
And here's the lady herself, to tell you in her own words how it felt to run over that finish line...
Ruth proudly displaying her hard-won third marathon medal
The 3-3-3(000) Challenge by Numbers: It's A Wrap!
4 incredible people who accompanied me each step of the way on Sunday:
Leg 2: James
Leg 3: Nic
Leg 4: 'im indoors
6 awesome additional support crew members (Hels, Steve, baby Alice, J, M and Rowlo)
1 severely water logged pair of trainers that will never see another trail run again (they're as glad as I am)
0.5 a big toe nail still hanging on for dear life
1,000,000:1 chance I'll ever participate in another trail run
20 weeks of training
4 times a week my alarm went at 5:20am
8 training sessions in 7 days most weeks
10,980,465 emails / texts / phone calls put into pt StreTch with cries for help
0 number of times he didn't respond to them
336 scrambled eggs eaten for breakfast on average since January
78.6 race day miles in 10 weeks
£5,708 (inc Gift Aid) raised for Pancreatic Cancer UK
2 amazing parents that have only ever asked I do my best and always hammered home that if you want to do something, go for it (except get a tattoo - that would have been curtains!)
1 hell of a long suffering but absolute supportive hero of a husband
So this 'ere last leg was quite something. You'll all be delighted to hear I've done enough trail run miles for all of us. Don't do it to yourself. You won't get clean for days (writing this, Sunday 7:27pm I've clocked up 4 showers, 1 bath and a swim already and still finding mud!). Stick to that beautiful, beautiful tarmac stuff. Don't believe a word they say about it being bad for your shins - trench foot is worse!
So many people ask me what I've learnt and how I've felt along the way, so here's a couple of bits of advice based on that for y'all. Enjoy.
I can pinpoint the exact day, time and location I reached breaking point during these 21 weeks. Friday May 11th, 6:37am; CrossFit Evolving. I was mentally and physically torn to pieces. The work out starts. I couldn't clean the weight, I hadn't slept for days, there was a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. I threw the weight on the floor, thought about calling it a day and had the email penned in my mind with the excuses and apologies I'd make to you all.
I picked the weight back up.
2 weeks later I secured a marathon time in Edinburgh I could have only dreamt of at the beginning of this year.
You need to hit that personal limit to be able to surpass it. At home, at work, in the gym. Wherever it may be I absolutely promise you there's always just a teeny tiny bit more you can give - once you've thrown a mini strop, had a word with yourself and got back on the straight and narrow, of course!
For someone who is quite regularly told she says "thank you" too often (not possible, FYI) this is a really important one to me.
37-point-something-KM on Sunday and it's all getting a bit hairy. My heart is racing, my feet are slowing, there are possible tears on the horizon. Out of the field we (me and the Hero Husband) go onto a lane. The first house we reach has a gazebo on the drive.
Within that gazebo lies a bountiful plate of biscuits, beautifully displayed, beakers of squash surrounding them. One chocolate digestive, another chocolate digestive and a ginger nut are mine. All washed down with the brightly coloured nectar. Suddenly everything in life got put into perspective all because of these darn biscuits (they weren't even McVitie's for crying out loud!!!!) It truly is the small things that make a big difference. Without even knowing it that lovely lady and her biscuits gave me the power to carry on. I'll be forever grateful to her and those crumbs. Every single day we can go to bed grateful for something. No 24 hours will pass without you realising how grateful you are for something, no matter how big or small and even when it seems life is taking the p*ss out of you just a little bit. Next time you're having a bit of a whine, take a step back from it all and be grateful for your little lot.
An infinite number of thank yous to each and every one of you who have given me the support to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Seriously, diolch yn fawr xxx
(and a tiny pic of Ruth passing that finish line!)