For most people preparing for the London Marathon is hard work. The hours of training, the injuries, the physical strain and, let's be honest, the sheer boredom of all that running is tough. But add to that mix motherhood and the battle begins long before you run 26.2miles along the streets of our capital. In fact it usually starts before you even pull on your trainers, let alone start pounding the pavements.
When I decided to run the marathon back in January it was to be the cherry on top of my long journey to lose my mummy tummy. Over the previous year I had lost six stone and as part of that had become an avid runner, so a marathon seemed like the perfect crowning glory. What I hadn't reckoned with was the havoc that the training would wreak on family life.
I would whip out for a quick run after drop off and usually be back before anyone had noticed my absence. Even my long weekend runs only took an hour and my husband was happy to share his lie in with the boys as they lay on our bed and watched CBeebies.
But as soon as I started to draw up a training schedule for my epic undertaking I realised that this was a far cry from my old relaxed routine. I had to run five times a week with my longest runs taking hours and hours. I had to work on tightening up my flabby abdominals, strengthening my legs, speeding up my pace and improving my endurance. No mean feat for anyone, let alone a working mum of four young children.
From the moment that I was attempting to do the plank - a painful Pilates-inspired way to tone up your six pack that involves balancing on your toes and forearms – and both my twins came to sit on my back, I realised quite what a tough challenge I had set myself.
My three-year-old twins soon began to chorus "Mummy go running" as they saw me pull on increasingly battered trainers every morning. My older children were less forgiving and soon began to resent the amount of time I was spending on my training. "You're not going running again are you?" they would whine when I prepared for a weekend run.
There always seemed to be a chore that stood between me and getting out of the door. I spent many a morning raring to go in full running kit, but instead unloading the dishwasher, making breakfast, tidying the kitchen and doing the online shop. By the time I left the house I was already exhausted.
While runners without small children have the luxury of stretching out after a hard session to relieve their tired muscles and prevent injury, it was more typical for me to come in after a 15 mile run to be instantly joined by the twins who wanted to 'help' me stretch. Or indeed for stretching to take a back seat to unpacking the shopping or helping out with homework.
It's no wonder that I ended up with several injuries that were costly and time-consuming to fix. My husband began to mutter darkly that he couldn't wait till the marathon was over. To be honest I didn't blame him. For all that I was testing myself to the limit with my training, he was left holding our four babies. While I battled against the miles and miles of road ahead, he battled with feeding, entertaining and keeping the peace. I am not sure who had the harder job.
But though training for the marathon was the hardest challenge I have ever taken on, seeing my sons waving wildly to me as I rounded mile 19 at Canary Wharf made it all worthwhile. I ran over for a quick cuddle and was rewarded with the whispered words from my eldest son "Mummy I am so proud of you".
That praise from my usually far too cool for compliments eight-year-old saw me fly for the next few miles. Even as my feet grew heavy and all around me were stopping to walk, I was determined that my boys wouldn't see mummy walking. I wanted them to be able to say that their mum had run a marathon, so I kept on going with their faces in my mind.
I saw my family of fans again on the home stretch of Birdcage Walk and that was when the tears began to flow. I knew that I had done it.
When we got home, tired and still emotional I hung my medal around my husband's neck as a thank-you for his tireless support.
His response was to say "Never again". Mine was to ask where to sign up for 2013.
More on Parentdish:
Read Ursula's amazing six stone weight loss story
Paula Radcliffe tells Parentdish why her her toddler son thinks stretching out means play time!