Sunday, 10 October 2010

This will be my only boast

In the marathon, anything does and will happen. If it’s not nerves, it’s the sheer volume of running with thousands of people, in a different country, in a different place. Lots of things you can’t control. So yesterday, I ran my only little event: the Rowena Harding 20 miler. Last year this was a really important distance. I ran with a cycling support crew and I ran and I ran. We expected me to fall over – after all, that time last year, I was registered in a marathon as a walker. But I kept running and we both looked very surprised when I got back home in one piece.

So this year, I decided to celebrate the 20. It was something I could control, on a route I knew, just me and African running dogs at the canal. Of course, what I didn’t bank on was food poisoning the day before, and spending much of the preceding morning with my head in a bucket. Oh well, the show had to go on and I went for the 20.

I whinged at 3km, I cried at 3 miles. I had a right paddy under the West London fly over. And there was a shouting and screaming fit at Little Venice. I figured as long as I kept my legs turning over it would be ok. And soon 7 miles came round and I felt a little better, got into a rhythm, got lost in Islington, kept the legs turning over and found myself in Hackney. Hackney! Hackney is a destination – not somewhere you stumble into from Willesden Green. Once I had passed my third uber trendy grungy canalside cafe I knew I had to go back west. And with a little whimper of joy at the 11 mile mark, I did just that, turned around and did it all again.

I finished in 3hrs 46. I was pleased just to finish. The next day, I realised that I had completed the last long run, and that nothing but my own mental demons and an unfortunate but unlikely accident with someone dropping a suitcase on me, was going to stop me from taking the start line in Athens. I sent text messages to my physio, osteo, pilates guru to say thank you for all her help and choked back a little emotion and whispered myself a little “bravo.”

On your marks...

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