So here I was the weekend had arrived for my 10th and final challenge for Step Into My Shoes. My dear friend Jackie Morris had arrived from Devon and we were now tucking into a homemade chilli con carne, carb overloading for the next day. Feeling a little under the weather with a heavy cold, spirits were still high and excited to be taking on my first ever Marathon tomorrow. We prepped everything we needed the night before, set the alarm for 05:00am and hit the bed early.

RACE DAY –  08.10.17 – YORKSHIRE MARATHON

The day had finally arrived. 26.2miles was the only thing standing in my way of completing all 10 challenges! I felt confident and raring to go. We set off to York, singing, laughing and embracing every moment of this experience, even taking in the A64 with its magnificent coloured sky.

We arrived at the event village early, meeting other family and our no.1 fans! The village soon filled up with runners, fancy dress and spectators. It wasn’t long until we started to make our way over to the starting pens. Saying goodbye to family and our loved ones. This was it! Game face on and a marathon to run!

In a flash and with no time to think we were off. We were jogging our way up to the start line. I here shouting coming across from my left side! Nat, Chris and Emma screaming, whilst Gary and Sarah singing ‘Go Grace Lightnin’ holding up a banner they had made for me. I begin to well up and knew this was it.

We cross the start line and we were off. With Jackie by my side we begin to natter away and take in the cheers from the crowds as we run through York’s city centre. Finding out for the first time how tough it is to breathe with a full blown cold, I let myself pace slower and get into a rhythm. Planning to achieve a negative split for this race looked a little doubtful.

First 6 miles, spirits were high and I was still very excited. At mile 8, my claim to fame was having a selfie with the one and only Harry Gration (BBC Look North Presenter) – one of the many highlights of my day.

Pace going well and being on target to my negative split plan, we came into 13.1 miles at 02:15 hours. Running passed a line of spectators I knew my family were close by. At this point I was feeling a little fatigued, body starting to ache and I felt like I was having to carry extra weight, as my body felt heavy.

We hear some screaming up ahead – it could only be our amazing fans! Getting emotional once again and taking in the electrifying noises, we pressed on, for the last half. Jackie stuck with me every step of the way and was everyone’s ‘Little Miss Sunshine’.

Everyone talks about that moment in a marathon where you hit the ‘Wall’… At mile 15 I hit my wall. My legs became very heavy, body ached all over and my motivation dropped. Slowing down to a walk and battling with the negative thoughts, we tried different distraction techniques. Out of them all, music was the one that worked for me at that moment in time, uplifting my mood and instilling confidence back into my mind. I began to run again and power through the emotions. Jackie had taught me to take the pressure off myself and not to focus on a time but just embrace the experience and enjoy the moment. So I did!  I left that pressure behind me and took it all in and loved it.

At mile 20 we were back in the game and felt very determined to get to the finish line. With a combination of walking and running and seeing my Sports Physiotherapist, Trevor, again at mile 24, we had only 2 miles left to finish. With not much left in the tank I knew this would either be the hardest two miles or the best two miles of the race. Well in fact these were the best 2 miles I’ve ever ran. We picked up the pace and went for it. With half a mile left to go we turn a corner to a hill. Chris waiting at the bottom he screams at us to get up the hill with speed, Emma running alongside us with Scamp, we power up to the top!

Seeing the ‘Finish’ in sight and hearing the roaring cheers from my family, we sprinted over the line in 5:04:22.

And boom! it hit me! I had freakin’ done it! I had just finished my first EVER marathon and completed my final challenge for Step Into My Shoes! What a year, what a journey and what an Achievement!