I have been writing a diary of sorts since the start of this year to ‘document’ my running. How it made me feel, my shifting motivations and the random things that pop up while I’m running. I looked at it while on my flight to Copenhagen for my second marathon and realised I had written only one entry since the London Marathon, four weeks previously. Why? Because running had simply been a case of keeping up the mileage, no love or thought going into it, just clocking up time on my feet. The realisation of this was a jolt to me, especially as there was nothing I could do to change it now.
The only run of note was a 5 mile run I did in the heavy rain. It was the last run I did before heading down to the airport. During that hour of running I allowed my mind to pick open old memories, scars turned back into wounds. I wanted to understand why I run again, why I need it.
I knew full well that this marathon would be harder than London, no friends on the sidelines cheering me on, my body still not fully recovered from the previous marathon and generally not feeling mentally prepped at all.
I travelled there with a collection of runners that my friend knew and quickly learnt the pros and cons of travelling with runners. The main being that no one runner is alike, so don’t compare your preparation to theirs. They know what they are doing but more importantly so do you. My usual eating habits in the morning are to eat about two hours before a race, whereas one of the runners got up at 5am to carb up. A runner’s ritual runs deep in the mentality of a runner. Superstition surrounds. Some will swear off coffee the morning before, me I need it like a car needs fuel. All the small things a runner thinks are normal are suddenly thrown into doubt when compared.
One thing that none of us had really accounted for was the weather, in the lead up to the race I had checked it regularly, informing me that it would be 16-18 degrees and cloudy. Perfect marathon conditions. By the time we got started, however, it was bright sunshine and would be pushing 26 degrees by the midway point.
On the way to the start line we said our goodbyes to one another, a simple handshake that felt oddly ominous. It felt akin to the head nod veterans say they did before heading over the top, a “if we both make it out alive lets have a pint later”. Sometimes as a runner you forget about the risks but in that moment it became really rather real. It was only then, when I was alone for the first time during the trip with only my thoughts as company, that I actually started to think about the marathon. Before then I was focussed on the travelling and then on the stunning city of Copenhagen. No pacing plans, no aims, nothing. Having no plan should have terrified me but instead it was liberating. I made a quick judgement call to run the first half harder then I had done in London while it was a little cooler and see how my body felt for the next half. Simple, right?
Miles Left to Run: 650
NEXT RACE: San Francisco Marathon 31st July