I was running the Boston marathon. Okay, so it was Boston in Lincolnshire… but I couldn’t justify the carbon footprint of a flight to Massachusetts. Anyway, the UK race was as flat as a pancake and had great pb potential, so I was excited.
Training started in earnest in early December, some 5 months before race day. I had invested 1000’s of tough miles and 100’s hours of precious time. It’s no surprise that my nerves were showing as I shuffled about on the market place start line in Boston town centre, that cool Sunday morning.
My race strategy was instilled in my mind – months in the planning. I knew exactly what I wanted to do, now I simply had to execute it.
Fast fwd 20+ miles to the business end of the race. I had flash backs to monstrous treadmill sessions, tough long runs, dog attacks and my winter cross country racing. The end was coming and I was damn sure I wasn’t going to cave in now. Think of the rewards, think of the postrace calories, think of the facebook status! Essentially, think of anything to take the mind off the pain and almost overwhelming urge to stop.
Finally some company, as a fellow runner pulls alongside. We exchange grimaces and silently share a bottle of water as we run past the final water station. No words are needed. We are both facing our inner demons, racing the clock, not each other.
Unexpectedly we find ourselves passing 2 broken men. Walking or perhaps crawling the last 2 miles. They had pushed themselves beyond their limits. Such is the nature of this brutal distance. A stark reminder that the line between personal records and complete implosion are impossibly close.
As with any marathon the last mile is agony. My legs filled with Lead and form that of a drunk spider monkey. Re-entering the town centre we last saw over 2hrs ago, the modest but enthusiastic crowds urge me on. I high five a couple of youngsters on the way through, or maybe I slapped them in the face?! It’s all a bit of a blur if I’m honest.
I cross the line and collapse onto the metal barrier a few feet away. The elderly lady who was handing out the finisher’s medals checks on me. I hold onto her and sob with joy/relief/pain. I am physically and emotionally utterly wrecked. She spoke some kind motherly words to me and let me cry some more. “It’s ok dear. You take as long as you like…”. I have no idea who she was, but I will remember that moment for the rest of my life.
For the record, I finished with a pb by several minutes (2hr 47min). I gave it everything I had, which is all you can do isn’t it… until next time at least.