Pre-race nerves are everywhere today, making me a jittery and unpleasant bugger to be around. Went to register in the biggest marathon expo I have ever seen (with the worst organised queuing) and picked up metres of tape and plasters for my ankle, which still has a raw patch from Odense. I am paranoid about every twinge and perceived ache in my legs – “is that my hamstring?” “my knee feels stiff” ” have my toes fallen off?” etc….
I would not have imagined this one year ago.
I got an email this morning from my friend Alan, wishing me the best of luck for the marathon tomorrow. It was particularly apposite, since Alan was the one sitting with me in The World’s End in Finsbury Park one afternoon during that glorious April sunshine when I came up with the idea for the Twelveathon.
Given that we had just played a stunningly inept game of tennis, it was a quite surprising move on my part to propose taking on a sporting endeavour that would require a significant improvement to the fitness levels that had seen me lurch after even the slowest serves with all the grace and energy of a lump of yoghurt sliding down a toddler’s bib.
That seems quite a long time ago. Now I am here in Berlin, with 11 marathons behind me this year, unsure of what to expect tomorrow. I have resolutely treated each race as a single step on the way to completing this task, not allowing myself to think about the whole achievement or the scale of it. But now it is all I can think of.
Tomorrow feels like the real race is finally here, that all the other marathons have been building up to this point. We don’t often get clear beginnings and ends in our lives. Now I have a real and symbolic finish line rolled into one,
Only have two main thoughts – make sure you enjoy yourself and don’t fuck it up.
We’re both Welsh, we’re both supporters of UNICEF and Scene & Heard, and we both had promising sports careers as boys (Michael was scouted for Arsenal, I made some waves in the Llanishen Under 16s Second XV).
However, what I was unaware of was that we are both big fans of each other’s work. Whilst I have long admired his nuanced acting on stage and screen, it turns out he thinks me running all these marathons is pretty cool (as opposed to appreciating my use of tracked changes in Word) and has sent the following message to endorse my efforts:
Jim Paterson is attempting something both noble and completely stupid. I fully endorse this combination and still hold both those values as ones we should all aspire to. The organisations he’s trying to raise money for are ones that I am involved with and encourage you to support in whatever way you can. They are both working to make significant changes in the lives of children; for UNICEF, it is a global project, whereas for Scene and Heard, it is specifically for children in a very particular area of London, but both organisations are united in their desire to change the lives of children who need it most. I urge you to support Jim in his foolishness and in doing so, know that you are not only helping to make real changes in the lives of vulnerable children but also waving the flag for noble stupidity everywhere. – Michael Sheen
I think that is the nicest thing anyone’s ever said about me that includes the words stupidity and foolishness.
If you’d like to heed Michael’s call, make your donations for children and noble stupidity here. We’ve only a couple of hundred quid to go!
Yesterday I ran my first ‘official’ sub five-hour marathon at the Hans Christian Andersen marathon in Odense, Denmark. Although I did 4h 49m last month for the Jimathon, the fact it was such a big improvement in time (18 minutes) kept making me wonder whether I’d measured the course incorrectly and had in fact only run 25 miles. So to actually do it with the soulless, yet relentlessly accurate, electronic timing chip telling me I had actually, properly, no messing done it felt really good.
Couple of things I noticed yesterday:
Danish marathons are fast
Although there were about 6,000 running yesterday, the standard was much higher than my experiences of a similar-sized British marathon would be. I first worked this out when I was looking around for the pacers’ balloons indicating what time they were measuring. I was stood by the 4h 30m (the slowest I could see) and thought “I wonder where the rest of the pacers are”. About one minute before we started, it finally dawned on me that they weren’t expecting a lot of 5h+ runners and a groaning shiver of terror ran down my spine.
Charity stays at home
With the caveat I’m not that familiar with Danish charities and could be completely wrong, I struggled to see any charity runners on the course – mainly saw running clubs. Saw them from the back of the field, obviously…
A few days off now before next Sunday’s Berlin marathon and the end of the Twelveathon.