Sunday, 30 March 2014

The last leg of the journey

Here I am, sat in my pyjamas only a week away from my first marathon.

I don’t know how to feel anymore, my mind jumps between all encompassing fear to giddy excitement. I have started dreaming about the marathon, and they are nearly always nightmares. I accidentally do the half, instead of the full and end up hours later than everyone else. I forget all my water and energy gels, and just have to hope that I can finish without collapsing.

The thing about marathon training is, that as it creeps closer and closer, it becomes the thing everyone wants to talk to me about and the thing I want to talk about the least. I suddenly feel embarrassed when I have to tell people my longest run was 18 miles, and they suck in their teeth as a sign of respect.

I want to grab them and say, seriously it isn’t that great – I say ran, but most of it was me cursing at trees and at my own legs. Some of it definitely wasn’t even running; it was tired walking hoping it would all end.

I guess that is where the terror comes from, the feeling of pure inadequacy!

On the other hand, there is something wonderful about it all. I can run 10 miles, and say, that was just a 10 miler. As if 10 miles was a normal distance to spend pummelling pavements. I am now fit enough that most runs under 8 miles, just feel kind of boring, my body itches for me to grab onto that runners high from when I first began.

Even just completing a simple 5k is an achievement (finally under 30 minutes!).

I now have a strange relationship with my running gear. And as cheesy as it sounds, when I put on my striders and trainers, I feel strangely empowered. These are the clothes I wear to break down personal barriers, to go beyond anything I could have imagined. It feels good.

And on the day, I get to see my friends and my family. I get to be cheered on by random strangers, meet others who have been working as hard as me.

In many ways my training didn’t really go as planned, I missed countless long runs due to various illnesses and injuries, and in the last month became quite slack. I drank too much, ate badly, choose the pub over the gym, smoked when I should have quit, basically lots of bad things.

BUT here’s a little secret that the running community sometimes don’t reveal to you – its ok, because despite all that I am still running. Look up running on the Internet and too much of it seems made to make you stop. People can be snobby, and cruel. Not all of them of course, there is a great camaraderie in running. 

However, sometimes there are snobs, and those snobs can make you feel bad. They moan about slow runners, they berate those attempting 5 hour marathons, and they pretty much have a go at those who don’t fit the healthy standard for a ‘runner’. (As I said, not all, there are plenty of lovely encouraging people out there too!)

I learnt to not let it get to me, because the simple fact is, I am running – even if my training went askew, even if I am not the healthiest person, or my mile times are just faster than walking – I am running. I hate the idea that people are put off, thinking they need to be the picture of health before they start, when really you can do it whatever your habits!

So here I am, on the final stretch! I have no more aspiration than to cross the finish line. I am hoping my stubbornness will force me to keep up with my 5 hour pace group and that someone will be waiting with food and a beer at the end (or a coke, I always crave coca cola after doing long runs).

Let’s hope I can hobble away from this experience, with a tiny feeling that I might do this all again sometime.

Until race day… WISH ME LUCK.

Also we have made over £1,000 in sponsorship, which is bloody awesome :D


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