Thursday, 23 October 2008

The Finish Line

Well…it’s over. My race is run. 10 months of training culminated in 3 hours 30 minutes and 38 seconds of effort. How did it feel? I want to do it again! Does that seem a long time to be running? Perhaps I’m glorifying my reflections but it seemed to fly past. There was pain certainly, and disappointment: at mile 14 I developed a pain in my left hip joint that stayed with me and intensified for the remainder of the race. At the time I thought it was bad luck, an unfortunate injury that would steal from me the faster time that I was owed but, on consideration, my time reflects accurately where my running is – no more, no less. In the marathon you have to pay your dues. Some people get cramps, others hit the wall, but one way or the other, if you don’t prepare properly you will get bitten. More miles on the road; cross training to strengthen my core; both these things may have prevented my injury. The marathon is a harsh teacher. There were lots of pluses to take from the day too of course, but perhaps the biggest is that I know my running still has room for improvement.

Finally, I want to thank all those who sponsored my run or wished me luck. The encouragement you gave helped ease the miles as they ticked by. We did a good thing together: we raised over £320 for charity. And Emil was right - if you want to experience something run a marathon. Happy running!

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

The waiting game

My wife Elissa is 29 weeks pregnant at the moment but in her pre-impregnated state was no stranger to running herself. In fact, as she often likes to remind me, her running pedigree is a lot more distinguished than mine stretching back, as it does, over twenty years. She doesn’t say so exactly, but I think it frustrates her sometimes to see me lacing up and leaving our family behind when her own exercise ambitions await our new arrival. And I can sympathise with how she feels. My marathon has had a lengthy gestation period of its own. I signed up and began training in early February and the process will eventually come to fruition in less than two weeks time. The big day has been a shadow on the horizon for a long time now and I’ve run that race so many times in my head that it exhausts me to think of it. The French have an excellent term for it: the idee fixe. A fixed idea, an obsession that dominates all other thoughts. For too long now my primary concerns have been for training, nutrition and recovery and the minutiae of everday life has been lost. To Elissa certainly, it has become boring. The obsession of self: it’s wearing, especially for me! But…when I cross the finish line what then? When the cheering has ended, the blisters have healed and my medal rests in some forgotten drawer, what then? I hope I will feel like a runner and not a one-race johnny: that it is a beginning and not an end. I hope that running – second nature to me now – will assume its proper priority in my life. I hope that when Elissa pulls her lycra back on she will be mindful of the immortal tag line from Highlander: There can only be one! ...You know I'm joking Honey

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

History by numbers

So, it’s really happening! My number has arrived. Now it is official. Whether I post a time or not I will forever be a statistic in the Abingdon Amblers Running Club marathon record for 2008 – and hopefully not for DNF (did not finish)! It is a special feeling. Running for fitness or pleasure has its own attractions but racing is something entirely different. The camaraderie of your fellow runners, the fear and anxiety before the start, the adrenaline of the race – I am experiencing it now as I type. All your training, all your hopes, find their expression when that gun goes off. 246 is more than just a number: it is a key, a passport, an entry in the records. And in this last sense, runners make history every time they race.