Well the marathon happened about six weeks ago, now. It was absolutely insane, I cannot describe to you the feeling of running with 37 thousand other people.
I had three main goals when I stood at the start line:
- Finish the Marathon. Whatever it takes. Get it done. Chalk it off. Smile.
- In finishing the Marathon, don’t walk. No walking. There is no ‘wall’. A Marathon is not a Marathon if you walk it.
- Finish in under 5 hours. There was something about finishing in under 5 hours that resonated strongly with me. I thought I could do it, and on the proviso I stuck to 9 minutes 25 seconds per mile (a far cry from Bannister or Gebrselassie, but totally ‘doable’), I would do it.
I’m not going to give a mile-by-mile account of the whole venture, but there were a couple of highs and lows…
Mile 5 (or thereabouts) – reaching out for a water bottle, and having some bloke run in front of me causing me to fall. This was a terrifying feeling – the immense pain as my ankle turned over itself; fear – what if I’ve broken something; anguish – this cannot be the end of my three and a half months of training; determination – even if I can’t run, I’m going to finish; and then continuing…
Mile 11 – stopping for some relief, and losing site of 50% of our ‘running team’ – this was quite nerve-wracking – would I not see Conan, my UK running partner whom I had never run with before, again? Oi oi oi. It was at this point that I realised that if I were going to finish, it would probably be on my own. but I also gained some zen-like composure from this – a Marathon is, after all, a challenge for oneself, and not a team sport…
Mile 13 – the remaining member of the ‘running team’ decided to stop and have a walk. I continued. Definitely alone now…
Mile 15 – elation, I caught up with Conan and Em – the other running team members. This was short-lived as Em, almost immediately bounded off, and I ran with Conan for a while. Until…
Mile 16 – Conan got an insane cramp and could barely walk. We had to slow right down, and kept moving forward, and as painful as it was, had to part ways.
Miles 18-21/22 – These really felt effortless – quite difficult to describe, you run, and everything’s awesome, and you get this feeling that you could go on forever.
Mile 22-24 – and the you start to falter, and it gets tiring again, and a mantra keeps you going – “Power, honour, strength, courage” – and you look around you and London comes alive, and you feel a part of the history of this city, and all the good and all the bad that it has seen and lived through, and all the monumental figures in your country’s capital look at you, and will you along – not necessarily to finish, but to do your best, and then you realise you can do even better than that, and you’re on auto-pilot, and London is cradling you, and it’s effortless, but it’s emotionally draining and you let out some odd half-wimpers where you could either start crying or giggling, and you push through and you’re glad you did cos suddenly you’re at…
Mile 26 – and you’re of the opinion, holy shit, the Houses of Parliament? Buckingham Palace? And then you look at your time, and you realise that there are only 600 metres left, and that isn’t really that long, and it hasn’t really been that painful an experience, and so you start to run faster, and then faster, and then you begin to question how long you can keep going, and then you see that there is only another 400 metres to go, and that it’s nothing, and that you can pass out at the other side of the finish line which you still can’t see. And then you’re really tired, and you see a sign and it says 200 metres, and you figure if Usain Bolt can run 200 metres in 19.19 seconds, you should really be able to do it in 40.
Especially as you’ve just seen the clock and it’s reading 5:19:17 and you started the Marathon 20 minutes after the official start time (time it takes to walk to the start line), and that therefore if you hurry the hell up, not only can you finish, not only will you have not walked, but you also will have broken 5 hours on your first time out and that all three of your goals will be reached.
And so you run hard, real hard, and you pass people who are walking, who can’t take another step, and there are a surprising amount of people crying, or who have stopped and are talking to the crowd, and then you pass more and more people, and it literally must be about 100 to 150 people you pass in those last 200 metres, and just before you go under the finish line, you look up at the clock and it reads “5:19:57” and you know that whatever happens you have done it. And you are triumphant. And for those seconds the three and a half months training of running in the cold, the wet, the dark, the wind, the rain, and on icy footpaths and pavements, well it all makes sense, and it’s all fine, and you are victorious, and there’s nothing in the world that can hurt you, and fuck yeah you’re gonna run a marathon again. And then later in the evening your foot looks like this:
and you realise maybe you’re not quite as invincible as you had thought…!
And now there just remains to thank everyone who sponsored me:
Beatrice Fihn, Ed Ramsay, Nick & Hilde, Martin “Smoothy” Booth, Thomas Evans, Seyda, Dr. Awesome, Sarah Harvey, Carina, Neil “GoatBoy” Hepburn, IronMikeWild, The Jan, Goat Goat, Vic @Sumo, Ms. Hilary Khawam, James Ramsay, The Clark-Monks, Lady Angie Kretzmeier, Sumeet Dhillon, The Fish, Rich, Kiz, and my Goddaughter, Iz, Mr. Burchett-Chambers, Benjamin “Netinyahoo” Jenkins, Sally Dinwiddie, Nick Joyce, Spyirdon Leoussis, Glenn Macstravic & Raegan Boler, Susi ‘Q’ Snyder, Atcern & the Duchess, Robert “Mad Dog” Vaughansy, Lee Neville, Rebecka Fihn, Alun Watkins, The Ruggs, Marc Travaglini, Sandy Williams, Ed Moyse, Nirav Shah, The Hat, Terri Salter, Charlotte Ford @LastExittoNowhere, Tomas Byhlin, Jaroslav Tymrak, Dave Buchanan, Amanda Thomas, Crazy Gary, Rhys Houghton-Jones, Mandy Spencer, Gill Parker & Ben Gunneberg, Christian Kämmer, Lucy Upward, Sarah Price, Richard Cousins, Sarah Bruce, and Katherine Harrison..
When you are running for such a long time, and can’t find the motivation to keep going, knowing that you guys were there, and were somewhere willing me to keep going, really really really helped!
Finally, the training crew, whose support when you just cannot be bothered to go outside and tread the same bit of pavement for the fiftieth time, guys you fucking rock:
And last, but by no means least, my wife, Beatrice, your support has been phenomenal from going on little 5km runs two years ago to accompanying me on your bike on 30km runs around Geneva on cold Sunday afternoons, thank you, darling!