Tuesday, 26 April 2011

I am a marathon runner

It's now Monday afternoon, and my legs are beginning to seize up as todays dose of Ibuprofen wares off. While the marathon is (painfully) fresh in my memory I thought I would jot down the gory details, and also to reflect on what I will take away (which seems to be this years buzz word).

So I completed the marathon, and it was bloody hard. The weather yesterday was glorious, for everyone spectating. The view from the runner was that I could have done with a little more of the glorious weather being saved for when I had the opportunity to enjoy it, the bank holiday weekends spring to mind.

The experience was really interesting, went down to London early on Saturday, registered at Excel and went round their exhibition of all things running related, this got me all the more excited for the following day's event, listening to motivational speakers galore. Afternoon was a bit of pottering round London, enjoying international record store day and cursing my blackberries slow internet access as I followed Birmingham's excellent victory over Sunderland. In the evening I got together my final preparations, realised it was going to be sunny and so had to decide whether to wear my running vest or my running top, rather than both. Top won out as the vest was a little snug and when I tried it on the outcome was a little camp for my liking. It was probably a good job as writing my name on my running vest with a permanent marker left the vest with a decidedly hallucinogenic effect when trying it on, and then when I tried to wash the smell off it turned out that the permanent pen was anything but (the Hilton sink had a very black tide mark as a result). So the decision was set, I was running in an old Blues shirt, I had a good meal of Pizza to stock up on carbs and went to bed suitably nervous but excited.

And then yesterday, the day of the Marathon, everyone in London seemed to be wandering around with red virgin plastic bags, and we congregated at the starting point. Due to my pessimism when signing up 6 months ago, my starting position on the grid was at the back, right at the back, I started running next to Brian the snail from the magic roundabout, a fire engine and an 8 foot tall pink nurse called Rob.

9:45 came and off we set, I knew that it was warm, so I set a pace for myself with my lovely new Nike plus watch that was slower than my half marathon paces, to try to take this into account and spent a few miles taking in the atmosphere, I could feel it getting hotter, but I kept thinking that was fine as I had put in the miles in training, was taking it relatively easy and drinking at each drinks station. However at about 10 miles I realised that perhaps the heat was going to be quite a big factor for someone carrying a decent amount of timber! I had been sweating quite a bit, and the joy of sweat laced with suntan cream stinging my eyes must have made me look like I had begun crying very early in the race, but I carried on, and getting to tower bridge at half way was a real boost - having to run less than I had run already is normally a massive psychological boost for me, but in this instance it was not the greatest, as I just felt knackered. In fact I felt really empty, as if I had burnt up all the fuel in my body, so I had a little panic for half a mile, and came up with a plan.

I then started running at the side of the course and grabbed any good sources of nourishment offered from the crowd that I could. I have never been so over the moon to see a small child handing out jelly babies or an old dear with her bowl of opal fruits. Funnily enough this, coupled with the handing out of 'lucozade gel packs' (basically this seems to be refresher sweets in gel format) gave me a renewed lease of life and I continued for another few miles, having slowed my pace accordingly.

Until mile 17, I turned a bend and felt a squelch in my foot, which I knew from experience was a blow out (or great big blister exploding). So I was now knackered and in pain, and decided to slow the pace down, well I didn't, my body suggested I might want to. I passed a young lad handing out jaffa cakes, and was reminded of a recent Dave Gorman piece on his radio about what was the right way to eat them, (separating the orange bit and letting it dissolve, or full moon, half moon, total eclipse) the answer I found was ram it into my mouth as quickly as possible, barely stopping to chew.

I was now playing mind games with myself, as the need to walk a bit in between running kicked in at about 19 miles, games like walk this song and then start running, or walk until a mile marker and then run the next mile, it was challenging to say the least. In addition I had some merry battles with the 8 foot tall nurse Rob, a couple of Rhino's, a chap covered in poppies, a tiger and a bloke dressed in pink with a tutu and a bucket. It may sound stupid, but when walking and passed by any of the above it does spur one into action, slow action I will grant you, but action non the less.

And then I was in the final 3 miles, which I ran all of, and it was tough, my mind flicked to loads of different things, but quite often to the huge amount of sponsorship from people and how I wanted to do people proud in that respect, I reckon so far I am at about £2.5k in sponsorship money which exceeded what the Miscarriage association expected, and which has made me feel really humbled by the support.

Into the last mile, then 800 yards, 600 yards, 400 yards, turn the corner, game face on, 385 yards, smiling at the first official photographer, 200 yards, arms aloft for the next 100 yards and in arms raised triumphantly (having checked that on either side there was noone who would make me look stupid in my official photo, I am not ashamed to admit that I ran significantly faster on that element of the run because of the bloke wholly atired in pink with a pink bucket and tu tu mincing down the mall, and the chance that he would be in my official photo.) My time, 5 hours and 8 minutes, the longest 5 hours and 8 minutes of my life, and most painful.

and it was over, I was handed my medal, got my bag, slumped to the ground and then ate everything edible that they provided. I called Claire (Mrs P) and got an excited Dylan and Evie shouting 'well done daddy down the phone' (they had watched the coverage running round the lounge in circuits Dylan being me, Evie being Auntie Lynny (my sister who some of you know who also ran, and ran a good steady pace throughout, she ran the perfect marathon in my opinion! )

Me and Lyn went to her charity get together after, had some pasta and a well received sports massage, well received by me, I think that the masseur would have been less than enamoured to have a less than fragrant brummie struggling to get onto the massage table. Onto the train to come home, which was a little painful (steps at Euston anyone) I cracked open a warm can of London Pride - not my drink of choice, but one of the nicest alcoholic drinks I can ever remember after my recent abstinence.

I dutifully updated my facebook page to let my friends know I was alive and then was inundated and personally overwhelmed by the response, so many people said such nice things that I began walking very tall (although with more of a John Wayne gait due to blisters and stiffness) and wishing that I could have had those people around the course for the last 13 or so miles for support. This has continued, today at work everyone had stopped and asked me how things went, lots of praise, and the inevitable question, have you been bitten by the bug, and the answer to that is no. Thats it, its been a long road since I started training (2 years) and 16 weeks of full on training, giving up time with the family (and drinking) so I have achieved my ambition, raised a money for charity and have a warm glow.

So I am a marathon runner, and always will be.

Thanks for all of your support, it really has meant a lot to me.



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