Catching up with myself (Pt 1)…

“That blog you keep about the marathon thing…”
“You ought to update it. I was on it the other day and there was nothing about any of the recent ones. Did you not have anything to say?”

In truth, its more that my recent marathon exertions have taken more out of me mentally and physically than I’d bargained for. So first I didn’t really want to even think about marathons when I wasn’t running one, and then every time I sat down to try and write about them I would sit at the screen and write a variation on “well, it just kind of happened I guess”.

They have also all bunched up a bit. After the arduous journey that was the Sussex Coast run, I had 22 days before the next one in Brighton. By a remarkable coincidence, there were also just 22 days separating Brighton from Belfast, with a wee race called the London marathon in between.

As you might imagine, it all passed in a bit of a blur, but highlights included:

  • Running in front of people again. After two marathons in the glorious, but rather empty, countryside, it was clear from the first steps in Brighton that having people to cheer you on again was the most amazing tonic and was definitely a reason for…
  • Posting my three quickest times. Brighton was the fastest at 5h 12min 47sec, but then I managed to knock another five minutes off at London! Belfast was a bit slower at 5h 18m, not least because of the incessant rain throughout, but was still my third fastest time.
The slack jaw of relief - Jim after the Brighton marathon

The slack jaw of relief - after the Brighton marathon

  • Feeling good. Coming off the back of the Sussex Coast, which had not just been challenging, but felt like a massive knock to my confidence with such a slow time, I was keen to get back to a road race and be able to push on. From the first mile of Brighton, even considering the great atmosphere, I felt good – in control, calm and strong. Even when really feeling weak after about 18 miles, I knew it was OK because I knew what to expect next. It felt like the mental breakthrough for understanding a marathon and how to manage yourself.
  • Having my friends around for all three, both to cheer me on and cheer me up afterwards (including bringing me tea afterwards in Belfast!). It also helped Zoe, who finally had a break from hanging around in the middle of nowhere, wondering where I am and how much she’s going to have to hold my hand.
A nice cup of tea after the Belfast marathon.

Tea. Sympathy not pictured.

  • My first London marathon. Like children, they are all special in their own way, but running on home turf (well, concrete) with what seemed like half of London on the streets to cheer you on was a really emotional experience from start to finish and one I really will never forget.
  • Having my first injury wobble. Not a highlight so much as a reality check.  My right knee started to hurt during the London marathon. In truth, it had felt odd the day before, during the warm-up run, but I still felt stunned when I had to stop and walk during the third mile because It felt too sore to run on. I shifted to a walk-run strategy for the rest of the race and that allowed me to progress without too much discomfort. In order to give it as much rest as possible, I did virtually no running before Belfast, which was two weeks after London, and have changed my training routine around to avoid too much running and impact on the joints between marathons.
Supports on my legs pre-Belfast marathon

I am grateful for all the support(s)

It does make you feel vulnerable though. Ever since the start of this endeavour, people have been jokingly asking “How are your knees?” and I have joking answered “Oh, still hanging in there!” and we have laughed and then maybe had a biscuit. And its been fine, but maybe, just maybe, that’s because I kind of ignored the reality of trying to run 12 marathons in a year so that it didn’t scare me too much. Blithe thoughts of carrying on, cart horse-like, through all 12 are now replaced with visions of a doctor taking a look at my legs at the end of the last one and saying “Well they’ll have to go.” The three weeks between Belfast and Edinburgh involved no road-running at all an attempt to preserve my knee as much as possible.

However, it was not to be my knee that was my main worry at Edinburgh…


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