Finally, I am able to share video and stories of my first marathon with you. This is not because it has taken me the best part of a month to finish the marathon, just because I am easily distracted. Here’s the video diary, in all its sweaty glory:
My final time was 5 hours, 24 minutes, 32 seconds, which, as I was hoping for a five-and-a-half hour time, made me very happy. You can also see photos and some video of the end here. I appear to be walking in more than one of them – a most unfair reflection.
The anticipation and firework-filled, massive mouse-hosted start was a lot bigger than I expected, and that carried on for the first couple of miles while the field was relatively bunched up and lots of people were shouting ‘woo’ and the sense of occasion was at its height. I started a lot more slowly than I expected because of the crowd, but that was probably a good thing as it stopped me from pelting off as I have done in training.
The middle miles passed relatively calmly, enjoying the spectacle of running through all these parks and watching the sun gradually come up. Little bits of advice I’d been reading came back to me – keeping my pace steady, focusing on the three/four mile “race within a race” to break things up. It was almost relaxing…
From mile 20 was when that ‘wall’ I’d been hearing so much about reared up and smacked me in the face. My legs started to sputter like a broken engine, stopping to walk at shorter and shorter intervals as my body screamed “For pity’s sake man, we’ve been through THREE theme parks and you haven’t stopped to ride at any of them! WE DEMAND REST!”
So I walked most of the next four or five miles, occasionally seeing the more outlandish costumes that I’d passed earlier pass me right back (this included someone wearing a previous t-shirt from a marathon sponsored by Snickers). The reassuring thing was that, even at that point, I thought that the worst that could probably happen is that I’d walk the rest of it, but at least I knew I could finish.
As it was, I had enough left to run the last mile, spurred on by the amazing crowd, the music and the grandstand full of spectators by the finish line. Oh yeah, and the GOSPEL CHOIR (pics here by The Mad Marathoner), which I heard before I rounded the corner and saw them and therefore thought I was hallucinating for a moment.
I thoroughly recommend the Disney World marathon – it was friendly, the spectators were lovely and enthusiastic and the spectacle is done on an appropriately grand scale. As a first marathon, it was a great introduction.
Running since then has been more difficult that I expected, as though my body used up all its knowledge of running during the marathon and is having to re-learn, Bambi-like, from scratch. Apparently this is quite common after a marathon, but doesn’t bode well for when I have two marathons close together (i.e. quite frequently).
Its also difficult to motivate myself again. The exhaustion, relief and elation I felt after finishing, (and after finishing my FIRST marathon), was overwhelming and I had to go and sit and be quiet for an hour afterwards while it sank in. That utter catharsis was something I really hadn’t banked on and I think I underestimated how running a marathon can leave you both physically and mentally spent and how you need to make time to recover in both ways.
And with less than a month to go before the next one and almost £3,000 donated so far, I should have the motivation I need (THANK YOU EVERYBODY, YOU ARE HONEY-DIPPED MARVELLOUSNESS ON A STICK OF JOY). The next run, in Cambridge, looks like it will be distinctly short on giant mice and fireworks. Still got to get round it though, these marathons aren’t going to run themselves (but it would be AWESOME if they did).