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Running the Marathon

11th May, 2015: Blackberry Sponsored Katie Cook's Marathon Perspective:

My name is Katie Cook and I'm 22 years old. I graduated from the University of Bath in 2014 and this coming September I shall embark on a medical degree at Bristol University. My friend Aoife O'Connor is 21 years old, she graduated from University of Birmingham in July 2014 and is currently living, and working in London.

On 26th April 2015 Aoife and I took on the challenge of the London marathon in order to raise money for a charity very close to our hearts, Willen Hospice, in memory of my Wonderful Dad. Willen hospice are a unique charity providing exceptional care and support to both terminally ill patients and their families.

We set out to do this marathon in order to contribute to this amazing cause and ensure this facility can continue to help and support those people in need. Whilst both myself and Aoife have always been quite sporty, a marathon was a whole new kettle of fish, and this became more apparent as we pushed our bodies to the limit during our training. It all commenced on the morning of the 1st of May 2014 as we sat eagerly by our computers filling in our applications and with Aoife obtaining her place via the ballot, whilst myself directly through Willen the journey and training began...

Training began early in December and having only just returned from volunteering in Africa our fitness was distinctly below par. Frustratingly, it wasn't long before the injuries kicked in with Aoife almost immediately commencing her everlasting battle with the renowned shin splints, whilst I had a niggling knee. Inevitably we knew that these problems were going to be quite critical over the training period, ultimately interfering with our abilities to run any real distances leading up to the dreaded day. However we were determined not to let this get in the way and resorted to non-contact methods of exercise instead in order to minimise irritation. Without a doubt, our training highlight came towards the latter of the programme during the 'tapering down' and 'carbo loading' week where the primary focus was to let the body recover temporarily before enduring the gruelling 26 miles.

The Blackberry Clinic played an integral part throughout our training schedules, providing us with incredible support including various elements such as a gym membership, a physiotherapist and sports therapist. Without their continued support and expertise, we would not have been in the fighting position we were before the big day. Not only did they enable us to complete the 26.2 miles in 4 hours-a time which we thought would have been out of our reach- but they provided us with the opportunity to be able to enjoy the whole experience!

The day itself was undoubtably one of my best experiences to date and although we didn't start in the same zones, it wasn't long before we had reached mile 5 and were reunited. From then on, we ran pretty consistently throughout (amazingly managing to avoid the dreaded 'wall' which we put down to being too preoccupied with crowd spotting our supporters) chatting away as ladies do best, whilst trying our best to soak up every moment. The atmosphere was something we shall never forget.

Speaking to various marathon runners, they will be the first to reiterate the exhilarating experience which overwhelms you on the day, and this certainly didn't disappoint. However, they do fail to mention the pain which you are yet to go through shortly after finishing. For the first few days and sleepless nights to follow, our bodies were riddled with lactic acid, making even the simplest of tasks a mission to carry out. Once this began to fade away, only then did it really sink in what we had managed to achieve.

We would like to say one more huge thank you to everyone who helped us throughout the build up/ donated/ supported us on the day, you really made such a difference to what was an unforgettable experience all round.

Katie and Aoife - London Marathon