Alice-Azania Jarvis: 'I finished the marathon – and loved every minute'

So, I did it! I ran the marathon and I raised the money. Neither of which, in all honestly, I thought I could. I'm built like bookworm, not an athlete – and I have two years worth of columns to document my inability to save money. So far, I've raised £3,541.70 for the Rhinos – £1,255 of which came from you. I can't tell you how much that means, not just to the Rhinos but to me.

In my weekday guise, I write a gossip column, which does little but win you enemies. So to get such a positive response when I (or at least the Rhinos) needed it most has meant the world. Thank you.

For those of you who want to know how it went: well, what can I say? It was great. I loved it. Every minute. Oh, ok, not every minute. Every minute up until about the 211th minute, when I started to enjoy every other minute. This was, in fact, a total surprise: although I'd been training, I had no idea whether what I was doing was right. I did it on a shoe-string budget, which meant no gym, no personal trainer, and little in the way of fancy gear. I bought one book, and relied on the advice of friends and online forums. Until about a month before, I felt totally confident. And then, suddenly, I felt totally un-confident. The week beforehand, I couldn't sleep at all – mainly because I'd suddenly realised that it wouldn't just be embarrassing if I failed. It would be letting all those people who had donated down – especially the ones I'd never met, but who had patiently listened to me prattle on about the same subject in these pages. I became incredibly nervous, refused to see my friends, and barred my family from mentioning the M word. As those of you reading last week saw, I couldn't even write about the damn thing.

Happily, the subject-ban worked. I managed to regain control of my sanity enough to get a full eight hours rest the night before, and made it to the start line in one piece. And then, I spent the next four hours, 27 minutes running, without stopping or walking once. The London Marathon is an amazing event: the crowds are phenomenal. To anyone who says we've got no sense of community anymore, I say: go and see. Teenagers, grandparents, everyone – they all turn out to cheer on the runners. And it works. It buoyed me so much that it was the easiest 26 miles I've ever encountered. Now I want to do another, and push myself faster. But first: time to relax. And say, once again, thank you.

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