Stick with me, I’m not quite sure where this blog is going but I felt like I wanted to blog and I felt like I wanted it to be about running rather than work so I just opened the blog site and started typing really.
This time next week it will all be over. I will, if the universe agrees, have finished the London Marathon for the second time in my life and for what I am fairly sure will be the last time. I have learned never to say never when it comes to running but I do think I’m done with marathons, or at least with road marathons. I’ve already explored some of the whys in the context of Dopey so let’s not go over them again now. There is something oddly calming as well as slightly stressful about deciding that this is the last time I will attempt to cover 26.2 miles as quickly as I possibly can. I’ll come back to that.
I realised the other day that everything has been focused on marathon day in a way that has split life into pre and post marathon. Post marathon always seems aaaaaaaaages away which means that things that are happening quite soon after have not been given their due time and attention. I finally remembered to book some leave and I still need to move a couple of meetings and maybe plan for the trip to see our friends the weekend after because who knows what I’ll be capable of or not come the 29th April! It’s also only a month and a week until we fly to Washington DC for a conference and then a bit of leave tagged on and doing a bit of planning for that might not be a bad move! But you know, all of that is post marathon in a way that doesn’t quite seem real. Post marathon is like Narnia, like Hogwarts or like a Galaxy Far Far Away – clearly there but just not quite believable or real. Post marathon exists in another dimension.
But there are some things post marathon that I am thinking about a lot. What will happen to running post marathon? In fairly typical fashion I am wondering about the next challenge. What is my next impossible? At the same time though I am looking forward to not running to a plan, running just because I want to and running as far, fast or high as I want to. Just because. But then what if I don’t want to run? That would be awful wouldn’t it. I mean running is now part of who I am and what I do even if I’m not actually really a runner. Imagine not wanting to run. What then? I keep looking at races and challenges, something to keep me honest. I hope I’ll be ok. I think I will be. We have entered the 5 mile Solstice Saunter at Bolton Abbey in June and the Ilkley Half Marathon in July but I am also trying to tell myself that if I don’t want to run for a bit post marathon that’s actually ok…. Overthinking much?
Anyway, the last marathon. Yes. I feel quite settled in that decision. I don’t have anything left to prove. To be fair once would have been enough. 4 is awesome. I don’t feel the pressure to do 5 for a sort of magic number. 4 can be my magic number. I like the symmetry of 2 London, 2 Dopeys and I like the idea of finishing my marathon ‘career’ with something as iconic as London. It has a long cut off time, a familiar route, awesome support and atmosphere and there’s a great chance of me being able to soak it all up and enjoy it – or at least some of it. Finishing in London works for me and feels right. So mostly I feel calm about it and the notion of this being my last is adding to calm rather than adding stress or pressure.
Every now and again though I get a little panicked – if this is my last marathon then this is my last chance to achieve my marathon goals, my last chance to do well, my last chance to really conquer the distance. Ok well yes but let’s remember that my marathon goal was only ever to drag my arse across the finish line. Let’s remember that I have improved my time with each attempt and that I am fitter than I was 3 years ago for London round 1. And let’s remember that this is my marathon victory lap. Yes I have a time in mind but if it is ‘get the time and be miserable’ or ‘miss the time but enjoy’, I know what I’m choosing and that’s what I need to keep in my mind!
I haven’t run for a week. The little run/walk that was more walk than run was the last outing. My cold shifted to a chesty cough and the wise and beautiful hive mind that is the #Run1000Miles group on Facebook unanimously advised me to not run. They were undoubtedly right. Yesterday we did our last fundraising event and walking backwards and forward to the car carrying cake tins I really struggled to breathe. I have been quite worried that it wouldn’t shift and I’d have to pull out last minute because of it. Today however things are looking much better.
After our Sunday lunch with Kath’s Mum we walked a little loop that includes the little wood in which I started my trail running education. It’s the first proper trail (rather tan just towpath or track) I really ran on and I still find it really tricky when it’s wet and muddy. Today though it was stunning with the bluebells out and fragrant and hints of wild garlic in the air (the pictures dotted in this blog are from that walk). We walked round it at a leisurely pace but I could tell that my lungs and chest have cleared. Breathing felt normal and I wasn’t out of breath. We walked along the canal to my Mum’s, dropped off some cake and then went the most direct (and thus steepest) way back home and lungs and chest were fine – still a bit of snot go get rid of though! I feel happier now that I’ll be ok. I’m going to try the short loop at Bolton Abbey tomorrow morning.
So with a week to go I feel quite settled. A little anxious, a little excited, a little just wanting it to be over but generally settled. I was training well for a 5hours 30 (which would take 48 minutes off current PB) finish but didn’t manage to maintain the weekly miles on the plan for the last 6 weeks so not sure really – I still ran and I ran my long runs but not quite to plan and I didn’t really do the speed and strength runs listed in the way they were intended and then I got this cold. So really I have no idea how well trained I am. I just know that I feel fitter than I was last time but perhaps not quite as fit as I was in January for Dopey – but then I am not doing 4 races this time, just the one, the long one but still just the one. I have my A, B, C, D and E goals in my head. I don’t think I am ready to share them. They feel like they’re mine at the minute. D is finish and E is be healthy and all of them are premised on enjoying the experience.
The coming week is all about rest and hydration. I am rubbish at drinking enough so I find this really hard but going into a marathon properly hydrated makes such a difference. So if you see me or send me messages on social media or email – keep reminding me to drink water! And if you’re looking for me chances are I have gone for yet another pee. Luckily I don’t have much on this coming week and can mostly stay at home and write. I have an annoying London Trip on Thursday but that too should be relatively stress free and easy.
For those of you running in London- you’re awesome; for those of you marshalling, volunteering and coming out to cheer us on – thank you. To all those of you who helped us reach our fundraising target – we appreciate your support and as cliched as it sounds, it really does mean loads to us! Our fundraising page will stay open a while longer for anyone who still wants to help support Mind: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/KathandJess
No doubt I’ll have more pre-marathon thoughts but in the meantime. Happy Easter to those who celebrate and Happy Sunday for everyone else.
2 thoughts on “A Week to Go – Some Thoughts”
Years ago I, too, warred with changing my focus from speed (road races, marathons, etc.) to trails and ultras. Over time and in the end, it required a definitive mind-shift. Did I want to burn out/wear out at an early age and not be able to enjoy the activity which I dearly love? Or, did I want to be able to continue a sport long-term which would also benefit my overall health? At age 72, I continue to participate, injury free, as a mid and back of the pack trail/ultra runner. I love running trails and I love hearing my physician describe me as “disgustingly healthy” at the conclusion of my annual physicals. We each have to chart our own course, just as Jessica and Katherine do individually. And I’m honored to have contributed help support Mind: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/KathandJess in their honor and other runners who have battled depression. In the meantime, savor each day and remember any activity is better than no activity. In closing, MASSIVE RESPECT to the London Marathon runners, marshalls, volunteers, supporters, and spectators!
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Thank you so much for this comment, the contribution and all your encouragement in the #Run1000Miles group. We really appreciate it!