Well what the hell happened today? My face is still covered in energy gel, salt crystals and lucozade dashed round my neck like a school boy with a new fragrance.
I don’t really know what to say, but I’m happy. Sod the time, I just ran one of the hardest, most painful and extraordinary runs I’ve ever had.
The weirdest thing about today was the ping-ponging in my mind. Through the early miles I sort of wanted to stop and couldn’t be arsed. My legs aren’t what they used to be and at times, I just thought do I need to put myself through this. People were speeding past me and I was blowing smoke struggling for breathe up the hills and then felt my legs just juddering on the downward slopes.
Normally I’ll run with a little piece of paper that tells me what time I need to be at each mile marker to help me not go too fast or too slow. Not today, I thought about it but could get one, so I tried to do the arithmetic in my head. It may seem easy adding 6 minutes 45 on to 6 minutes 45 to give you the next time you need to be at the next mile, but I just couldn’t do it… I also kept missing all the mile markers, so I’d be worried that miles were taking me over 12 minute and then I’d realize that I just ran past the previous mile… it turns out I was going pretty fast I managed to run the first 6 miles in 37 minutes and 13.1 miles in 1hr 24. I was flying, as much as it didn’t feel like it. My legs are so stiff these days, when I stretch it feels like my tendons and muscles are made out giant pieces of spaghetti.
I probably sound like a complete tit, but the best thing about today was being able to see people in the distance and begin creeping up on them. For so long, I felt like that my running and competitive edge was waning, giving up almost.. When you feel you are getting stronger whilst the guy in front is struggling it gives me a massive boost. I spotted a group of about 7 runners ahead of me and began ticking them off. The running equivalent of a badly dress hitman in short shorts, armed with the potential to pop out at any moment. It sounds harsh, but you need that sense of competition to keep you going, there were moments when I was dry wretching and wanted to stop, but I didn’t want to let the guy ahead of me drift off into the distance, so you paint a little target on them and begin reeling them in.
I think the thing I enjoyed the most about today was seeing everyone out watching and cheering everyone on. I’m not sure what people think when you run past them, but the boost they give you when they tell you to keep going makes so much difference. I tried to say thank you to as many people as possible and they always look so surprised that I’m trying to be chatty. If I was them I would be a little miffed if I’d popped out to support people and they didn’t acknowledge it. The crowd make the race, without them we might as well just run on our own and drop the times on website.
It was quite a surreal moment when I realized that I was on to do sub 3. I hadn’t really thought about it as I didn’t want to get down if I missed it and today was very much training. But as I did a few sums in my head, I calculated, in the looses sense of the word that it was possible and with that, I just started charging forward, . Charging equates to me huffing a bit more and trying to lengthen my stride… a strange goosestep with my left hand doubled over to make a weird claw. It was brilliant though, I now had this little target in my head and I was just going for it, I had nothing to lose and with that I crept past a few more until I was on the final mile, I kept trying to sprint for the finish, but it edged away. Having worried for months that I’d never run a marathon again, let alone to the degree of last year, I was just ecstatic that I was there, near the finish, in one piece and going strong. Screaming to the finish-line and just letting out months of frustration. It was almost cathartic crossing the line, I leaped in the air and came smashing down on my left foot, something I would never of done in the past months and with crossing the line I felt that I’d gotten over my running inertia. The odd nature of the finish did lead the commentators to say I the best finish of the day, the sub text to this is obviously: idiot of the day, but I couldn’t careless, I’d done it. This gives me a massive boost ahead of my challenge next year, when I’m going to have to be able to push myself harder than ever in a much more uncertain environment that the East Midlands.