Friday, 23 September 2011

Here we go again...

On October 2nd, as you may already know, I am planning on running my fourth marathon, this time in Loch Ness, just 9 weeks after my third. Why?

Simple. I owe the running community a debt, and I am very much looking forward to repaying it. The story goes like this:

In summer 2008, through a complicated series of events, I found myself struggling through the first (8.1 mile) leg of the Edinburgh Marathon relay. It was the furthest distance I had ever run. Wearing swimming shorts, cheap and nasty trainers and some elderly ‘sports socks’, I laboured through the distance and finished wheezing, hobbling and generally ruined. It was my first taste of participation in a marathon and I wanted more.

That night I hosted a post-race party at my flat for marathon and relay runners. My friends who had run the whole thing modestly basked in their success and I grew increasingly jealous of their new, elevated status as marathoners. But when a few of the other relay runners got together and bandied about the suggestion of doing the whole thing the following year, my stomach filled with dread. There was no way I could actually run 26.2 miles, and more than that I didn’t want others to make the transition without me, thinking that if none of us made the step up, then no-one would feel left behind. As far as I was concerned, the idea was shelved.

But as summer gave way to autumn my interest in the concept gnawed away at me. Even before the first week of my final year of University, I knew I wanted to run a marathon. I joined the Cross Country Club in the hope of finding a short-cut to success, and found no short cuts but plenty of people willing to show me the long road. With a small amount of convincing, I even found someone willing to accompany me all the way – my friend Alex agreed to come to Paris and run the marathon there with me.

More than that, Alex set the benchmark. He encouraged me to enter other races through the Cross Country Club, which he captained, and later helped me round the longer training runs. Even when he struggled and I actually found myself in the stronger role, it was him who reigned in my pace and helped me make the most of my fitness.

When it came to race day a lot of things happened. More detail is in my old race report. But suffice to say that without Alex there is no way I would have got into running in a serious way, much less become capable of completing one, let alone three or four marathons.

When I got back from Paris I was enthused and immediately determined to pass on the knowledge I had so recently been given. Just as Alex had supported me, I needed someone to support, too. After a little more convincing than Alex needed, I somehow convinced my brother to run the Dublin Marathon with me, just six months away at that point. If you’ve been reading this blog for some time, you may know that this went horribly wrong and Nick ended up running the whole bloody thing on his own.

So the way I see it, I still owe the running community this debt of guidance and support.

When Ben asked me to join him in running the Loch Ness Marathon, I knew I would be saying yes. I’m still sore from the Great North Run and the barefoot adventures, still not really recovered from 'leaving it all out there' in San Francisco, and I haven’t I got a decent pair of shoes to run in as both of mine are knackered. Regardless of the awkward timing, irrelevant of the challenges of the rest of my race schedule, this is my opportunity to finally give back, even if it is a bit hilly. Above all I get to spend 26.2  miles with a close friend whom I rarely see.

I can’t wait.


2011 to datemiles: 952, parkruns: 6, races: 5, miles biked: 83.24, metres swum: 1225 

P.S. Ben is running Loch Ness in memory of Marian Thomas, to raise money for the Women's Fund for Scotland. Read more here.

No comments:

Post a Comment