Monday, 16 April 2012

A long time running

Many years ago, I decided to join Bideford running club.

I turned up for the first time and they asked about my experience. For various reasons, I wanted to go out with the fast group, so I led them to believe I was a much better (and more frequent) runner than I actually was.


I quickly lost the group and ended up walking back to the clubhouse by myself. That was the end of my time with Bideford Blues.

As I was doing that lonely walk of shame, I could not, in a million years, have ever imagined finishing a whole marathon.

Which is pretty much how I felt yesterday at mile 23.

It wasn't just the pain, but the psychological fog. My energy levels were fine - I'd taken on board everything: water, Powerade, Shokbloks (energy cubes. Tasty). But as I ran around the Power Station (miles 20-22) I didn't think it would ever end.

It wasn't so much hitting a wall as entering stasis. Some of my friends were tracking my progress on a special Brighton Marathon app and it occurred to me they would think I was going backwards.

This slump continued forever (about two and a half miles) until I discovered the cliche was true.

I had just collapsed into a walk when I came across some supporters I knew: my marathon-running friend, his girlfriend and their mates. I think I may have shouted 'oh no': I couldn't believe I'd been running all this time and they were located at the very spot where I fell into a walk. The humiliation!?

It turned out, however, to be the best place they could have stood. Their cheers and good wishes lifted the fog and, suddenly, the whole thing was fun again. Just like that. Which meant, when I saw my family at mile 25, I was able to canter past (relatively) energetically and joking. Ho ho. Little did they know I'd spent miles 21 to 24 with tears running down my face.

I thought the Brighton marathon was fantastic. Running by the sea never gets boring, the hills (that sit between miles one and 10) were fine and the crowd was amazing. Yes, there is a wall and I'm sure in my nightmares I will revisit that Power Station many times, but the whole experience was no worse for it.

And in answer to the most popular question of the day, yes, I would definitely do it again. Not for a while though.

(Stats: 26.2 miles: Me: 4 hours 47 minutes 44 seconds; 10.58 minute mile. Brother: 3 hours 47 minutes 58 seconds; 8.42 minute/mile. He was lucky. This time.)

(Pics: Preston Park pre-race - most of the people you can see are queueing for the loos. The medal.)

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