05 Aug 2016
Running my First Marathon
A vaguely meaningful 26.2 miles
Ever since I was at school, I wanted to run a marathon. Actually, that’s not entirely true. When I was at school I wanted to run the marathon, ‘the’ being the London Marathon, which as far as I was aware was the only marathon. Of course, it is not, so…
…what is a marathon?
I’m glad that you asked. In the majority of cases, a marathon is the distance of 26.2 miles, although the word has been thoroughly diluted and repurposed. Generally speaking, a marathon just means a lot of something. A marathon session watching Breaking Bad, or, a marathon of listening to Enya albums in the bath, for example. In sports, a marathon distance in swimming is different to that of running or cycling. Even in running you have ultra-marathons, which are defined as any distance over 26.2 miles. But, for my purposes, the marathon was a 26.2 mile run, from point to point, on my own…
Well, as we’ve already established, I have long held the desire to complete a marathon. Unfortunately, injuries have always prevented me from getting to that point. I’m training for an Ironman, so inevitably I will have to be fit enough to run a marathon, and that will be after a 3.8km swim and an 180km bike race, but that won’t be until 2017. Last September I injured my knee. After extensive physio, I started running again just five weeks before the marathon. So, what could possess me to run 26.2 miles (twice as far as I had ever run) with only five weeks training, when it wasn’t even an official event. The answer…
At the time of the run, I lived in Worcester. My partner (Miss Womble) lived in Cheltenham. I had often cycled from my house to hers and vice versa, and one day I was looking on Google Maps, and I noticed that the pedestrian route between our two abodes was exactly 26.2 miles! This seemed like fate and as good a reason as any to make this my first marathon. But why so little time to train you ask? Well, you see, just three days after the day I planned to run, Miss Womble and I were both moving into a new home together in Cheltenham, so my window of opportunity was limited and I just had to make use of the time I did have to train.
My first marathon
The lack of training wasn’t ideal, and it did show on the day. I set off in the morning carrying just 300ml of water. When I ran out, I would find somewhere to fill the bottle up along the route. At first, this was fun and added to the adventure, but as the day wore on the sun was beating down, and I needed to find water a lot more frequently. In total I made about ten stops, going into farm shops, a garden centre, a trucking café, and a Bovis show home, to name but a few. This did grow tiresome in the end. Also, the last few miles of the run were down busy country roads with no pavement, so I had to play series of unevenly matched games of chicken with the oncoming traffic, jumping into the hedgerow when traffic was coming from both directions at the same time. Running the route was great, I noticed so much more from my surroundings than I had when I cycled the same route. The drawbacks, added to my general lack of running fitness meant I arrived at Miss Wombles door in five hours and two minutes.
While this wasn’t record breaking it was a big deal for me, and I’m glad that I was able to achieve this milestone in less conventional and more meaningful way than taking part in a organised mass event.