After running a marathon on the Saturday, I was about to enter a whole new world of experiences by then running another marathon on Sunday. This was my first back to back Marathon attempt, and I was back on familiar ground, with the same format as the day before. Two main differences on the two days: the first being this was dirty dancing themed, rather than jaws themed; secondly that there was a far greater ratio of female to males (which I think is reflective of the first point). The format was the same, 8 laps for a marathon, which is always my target.
I had originally hoped for two 3:30 marathons, but this target was soon a distant memory after finding the first day a real struggle. Everything was going really well, but then the latter part of the marathon was just hard work. I then spent the night feeling unwell, with a worsened cough, and a sore lower abdomen. My new goal was just to try and enjoy the second marathon. Of course I would complete, there is no way I wouldn’t allow myself to, but I knew it was going to be hard work.
My journey to the start was much more difficult, having to go a different route owing to my local station not opening early enough to get to the start, but I still arrived in plenty of time to get my stuff and be present at the race brief. The briefing was the same relaxed friendly format as always. Today no one said they were doing their first marathon, but one person was completing their 50th who later received a certificate to mark the occasion, and another completed their 99th and received a customary flake to mark the occasion.
Interestingly the slower finish on Saturday helped my recovery. I also had a soak in the bath and massaged some DOMSeaseoil into my legs to help recovery. But no matter how you dress it up, I was tired and it felt like I had just ran a marathon. I intended to start slower and complete somewhere sub 4. I was once again the leader of the pack with no 1 bib.
When was started it had a completely different feel to the day before, with not as many faster runners. In fact I led the first lap. I found that I could hold a decent pace, but it was hard. I was still coughing and every cough came with a gut wrenching pain in my lower abdomen, from clearly tired muscles. I slowed gradually and each lap drifted further back. By mile 10 I was in a different position. Times were no longer relevant, I just needed to slow down, and keep putting one foot in front of the other. In fact it was only my stubbornness and determination that prevented me from stopping. I actually wasn’t enjoying this race too much and I had a mental battle with myself to keep myself going. Each lap was increasingly difficult and this meant that the agony was getting prolonged as I was taking longer than necessary. I knew my family were coming to the end, so I was looking forward to seeing them, but also concerned that I would be keeping them waiting.
I learnt another lesson today. A lesson of perspectives. I found this race hard, I struggled and I did not perform near to my best, I had a bad race. That is my perception and therefore my reality. But let’s put this in perspective, I still lapped the majority of the field, and finished in a really respectable time. Whilst I was beating myself up mentally I received a couple of comments from the usual friendly runners that put things into perspective. First of all one runner joked as our paths crossed “you go on, I will catch you up”, implying how far ahead I was. Another runner said as I passed “you are making this look so easy well done”. I really had to stop and think at this point. At the very moment I was doubting myself, I looked through someone else’s eyes. I didn’t look like I was struggling any more than anyone else; I was smiling; I was ahead of a lot of people who in many cases had more laps remaining than I did and I was still running. It certainly did not feel easy, I was later lapped myself by two people, and I have never been lapped before at this venue. I had self doubt, but putting it in perspective I did ok. What’s important is we all have our individual goals and it’s easy to get caught up with these, especially when you find it hard. Let’s not forget what we are doing, when you don’t achieve a goal you have set yourself put it into perspective. It’s still an incredible thing you are doing, whether it’s your first 5k, first marathon, first double or whatever… there will always be someone else out there that is finding harder than you. There will also be someone else out there that can complete the distance faster or with more ease. None of this matters, as you are still out there doing it.
This was a hard one, and one of my least enjoyable marathons. I do feel that I would have enjoyed it better if fully fit, but I put too much pressure on myself. I later stopped and just relaxed into it, and know I will come back again stronger. I could have probably gone a bit faster, but not much, but I had nothing to prove and have so many other events it’s not worth risking injury. I finished in 04:13 which I am really happy with.
At the end I gave my wife a call on my way back in the final lap. The kids had spent the morning in the soft play, and it was great for them to be there at the end. Benjamin rang the bell to end my race, then ran off with my medal, it was great to share this moment with them. I quick pint then on to refuel. I became HANGRY, and ate all the food.
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