Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sprint finish

So here we are, just five days away from the London Marathon. It's been a hell of a journey.

I can vividly recall when I agreed to do it:

Int Shot: Two lazy people playing Pro Evo, a phone rings, I answer:

'Hi Dan it's Will. Do you want to run the marathon next year? '(his voice intones 'this is just a token gesture, I don't expect you to say yes').
'Urm, yeah okay, why the hell not!'

A pause

'You do?'
'Yeah, do you have a place or something?'
'Er, yes, we can get places with the NSPCC.'
'Great, yep sign me up.'

Phone call ends.

Then four months later on a crisp September morning we set off on our first run. A full 800 meters around the block. We return exhausted, glistening with sweat, and having just been chastised by an old lady who said, 'come on keep going' as we laboured past her. (Where are you now O Mystic Wise Woman?)

Then it was, 'Did 20 minutes tonight and don't feel like I'm going to die. This is fun.' And on it went, 25 minutes, 35, 45, an hour! Then a 10k race at Finsbury Park (Time = 47mins 14 seconds), then another 10k back home in Cornwall - which became the basis for my first ever article on running - and was another 47 minutes, although on a very hilly course.

From here training intensified - 12 miles in 1hr 55 minutes felt like the end of the world, then I did a half-marathon in Watford - a lovely rolling, countryside course, and a sprint finish over the last 3 miles, passing hundreds of runners - a perfectly paced race and one of the best running moments to date.

Onwards! A 14 miler in the freezing rain, under-nourished, cursing every individual drop of rain that fell, but really knowing it was our own fault for not having prepared properly before going out - lesson learned, this is now a serious challenge and requires pre-run and post-run commitments. Fridge now forever stocked with sport drinks and cupboards bursting with Jelly Babies.

Then 16 miles, then a half-marathon at Silverstone. Race plan slightly off - too fast for 10 miles, although feel fine, then slow considerably over last three, to finish in a good time of 1.42, but think it would have been better if I had saved fuel for the end, rather than fading - another lesson learnt; the end if the hard part, not the start.

Then 18 miles - feel drunk on exhaustion come the end, but do realise we are running past the American Presidential house in Regent's Park and so next weeks 19.7 miler - a lot of hills on these runs too - sees us watching with interest as the police head hither and thither erecting anti-terrorist barriers and helicopters hover overhead. We carry on running, enjoying glimpses into London Zoo.

Then suddenly it's all over. Twenty miles is done and we've recovered. Now what? Now a party - to raise funds you see - and then that's it. A couple of eight milers ('nothing really', say the two runners who six months ago almost collapsed running 800m) and now we find ourselves simply counting down days, eating pasta dish after pasta dish, preparing for probably the hardest, but most anticipated challenge of a lifetime.

There's a lot I've left out too - the mid week evening runs over to Alexandra Palace with its stunning views of the city, the training day held by the NSPCC in January, the fantastic people I've met in the virtual world of Twitter who are also running the marathon, the strange sense that I'm actually rather enjoying all this running, the books I've read, the magazines, the times I've been on the JustGiving website the strange quirks of the body - give me Jelly Babies! - and the genuine buzz I've felt from raising over £1,500 for charityand the kindness of people in donating (especially in this credit crunch).

So - that's it. Sunday, 9.45am, 26.2 miles - what's left to say? Bring it on.


ulen said...

Your training sounds similar to mine. 14 miles in the rain. My 18 miler was good though - it was the 20 that was exhausting. Then as you say a couple of runs recently were "nothing really". When did 8 miles become so easy?

Good luck on Sunday!

Dan W said...

Thanks - I know, people look at you like you're mad when you say 'just an hour's run, nothing really'. So easy to forget!

Good luck too!

Foss said...

This is inspiring stuff, Dan.

Wishing you all the best for the weekend - you can do it!

If not, I'm going to demand my money back from the NSPCC :p

Anonymous said...

this is one of your best blog posts that i have read, genuinely quite inspirational