Sitting here today thinking about next weekend’s Sundown Marathon, has me recollecting marathons past and I’ve decided that my sporadic and unfulfilled relationship with 26.2 miles is worth a blog post.
By way of intro, Sundown 2014 will be my 5th Marathon. I did my first in 2003 in London, did two in 2007 (London and Chicago) and then London again in 2012. So this will be marathon number five, on continent number three.
The First One
2003. April. London.
My first marathon, I trained hard, as you do for the first one, worried that I may hit the dreaded wall and not be able to finish. 10 years on I can still remember it very vividly. A cool spring day in London, starting inside Greenwich Park. I was in good shape, ran sensibly. I finished tired, but fit in 3 hours 32 mins. The London Marathon is an amazing event – deep crowds for pretty much every inch of the route. I’m hooked.
A tale of Two Seasons
2007. April. London
The London Marathon is always massively oversubscribed. 40k runners, about 150k applicants. So in 2004/5/6 I entered, but wasnt successful. At this time there was a rule that if you applied 3 years running you automatically got a place the next year. So, April 2007 I find myself again in London, in Greenwich Park, Except this time it’s hot (not Singapore hot, but hot for London in April!). I am in pretty decent shape, but probably not as good as I thought, Went through the first half in around 1.40 and was on for a decent time, but messed up the drinking/pacing and faded badly in the heat of the second half. I dont remember this one anything like as well as the first, except I remember finishing in around 3 hours 55 and being gutted. This wasnt the plan, 23 minutes slower than my first marathon! still loving the event, but not happy with the performance
2007. October. Chicago
Which is how I ended up in Chicago later that year having another go. My wife and I did this as a long weekend – flew over Thursday, expo Saturday, race Sunday, home Monday. October in Chicago is always perfect running weather, 10-15 degrees. Except, in 2007, it wasn’t. We got off the plane at O’Hare airport and it was 90 degrees. A freak October heatwave. This made for a great weekend sightseeing (amazing city BTW), but the Marathon was something else. We started early, it quickly warmed up. Too hot to run hard I just tried to get round. The spectators here are as good as London, loud, enthusiastic, lots of people out in the sun. I got to half way in around 2hours, and then walk/ran for the next 5-10 miles – drinking gallons of gatorade with the other runners. I crossed the line in 4 hours and 15 mins. I later found out that the race was stopped for anyone who crossed half way after 2 hours 10 mins. The finish area was very chaotic. It was an incredible experience, very strange, but a real endurance test. Again I have run a marathon 20 mins slower than the last one – but this time I’m less stressed about it. PB seems a very long way away though!
This link gives you a lot more background on the crazy events of that day in October 2007.
One more for luck
2012. April. London
Just as my move to Singapore is confirmed, I am offered a place in a company charity team for London 2012 Although I am not really marathon fit, I decide to take it. 1) It’s Olympic year and 2) this might be my last opportunity to run the race for a few years. I trained quite well, but not really enough 18-20 mile runs. In my heart I know I’m not in the best shape for it, but let see how it goes. Halfway in 1.42, looking decent. Then, 17 miles, funny sensation in my left knee – ouch, thats not good. Can’t run without searing pain through left knee, have to walk. Walked the last 9 miles, ran the last half mile past Buckingham Palace because you just can’t walk through the finish of a marathon. 4 hours 23 minutes.
That’s the story of my unfinished marathon business. It’s the story of unfulfilled potential. It’s also the story of the marathon. It’s a long way, 26 miles – many things can happen. You can’t control all of them. Try to focus on the things you can.
So next weekend I’ll line up for Marathon number 5, and I’ll try to reverse the pattern of the thre preceding runs. But whatever happens, it will be my first Asian marathon, my first night marathon and my first ‘insane humid hot sticky what the hell are you doing’ marathon. I can’t wait!