Running – the sport which just keeps giving and which enables you to give right back.
Is it safe?
Will you not destroy your knees, damage your hips, collapse in a heap?
I ran my first marathon on October 30th – hadn’t trained anything like i should have done – for a mixture of health and work related issues. Wasn’t sure i’d run until the Sunday morning but i collected my number from the Expo on Friday – just in case.
So, Sunday morning, i wasn’t sick, it was a beautiful sunny morning with no promise of rain or wind, i just had an extra hours sleep thanks to ‘fall back’ – our habit of putting back the clocks an hour in the autumn, i was pretty fit – could run a half marathon – so all i had to do was run two back to back – how hard could it be?
Got the Luas in Ranelagh – there wasn’t a soul about – not even a sinner making their early way home. Suddenly, the Luas arrived and it was crammed with excited babbling runners – marathoners to be and their handful of supporters. The energy inside could have kept the tram running even if the electricity was cut off.
Strolled across St Stephens Green and down to Merrion Square. A large screen opposite the Department of the Taoiseach was providing music and ads – i couldn’t resist a photo.
Big Brother is Watching You.
I put the shocked look down to the fact that i was there and thinking of running.
Droped off my bag, found my starting area, queued for the loo, chatted to a few excited runners, and then we were off.
I tried to run slowly but the excitement was contagious – so many people – almost 17,000 started out of 19,500 registered. Here is an interesting statistic, c. 10% of those who register for a marathon don’t turn up – known as DNS – Did Not Start i think. Here is a very encouraging statistic, of those who do start a marathon only c. 2% fail to finish – known as DNF. Buoyed by this statistic, i realised we had reached the Phoenix Park before i really knew i was running. The joking and laughter was everywhere – no-one had told me that marathoners were such a happy bunch.
And the crowds of supporters – noisy, friendly and ever encouraging – local shop shelves must be empty of jelly babies and , yes, i took a few – though thinking of all the sweaty hands who had grabbed a handful before my turn.
And the bands and the music – dancing our way across Dublin.
I ran the first 10k in my normal time, about 1 hour, and the first half also in about my normal time, 2:20. Shortly after that, the wheels started to come off – i was half fit but not really ready for the full 26.2 miles. But i had known this of course and was pretty confident that even if my legs failed my mind would keep me running – i had to amend that slightly to running/walking. I was actually thankful for the hills because they gave me an excuse to walk.
Photo by Jason Kennedy
Pain blunts your mind – thankfully.
Stopping is not an option – even when you pass within a couple of hundred metres of your home.
In Rathgar, i spotted my family, hugs and kisses and words of encouragement and i was off again – 19 miles fell by the wayside on Orwell Park and we were on to Milltown, Clonskeagh, those hills and finally the dualer – the Stillorgan dual carrigeway. My legs were sore but i knew now that i would finish so settled into shuffling along – a movement a bit like running but a lot slower. We turned down Nutley lane and then left for the city centre – everyone was getting a bit excited again.
The speed of my shuffle increased ever so slightly.
And they still kept passing me by.
The noise at the Finishing Line is the first thing you become aware of. Then it becomes visible but, like a mirage in the desert, appears to keep moving ahead of you. Suddenly, you are running on blue carpet – now you know its over – you are about to become a marathoner. I was about to join that 0.5% of the population who has completed a marathon.
So to those who say you can’t complete a marathon without extensive training – you can
And to those who say you shouldn’t – you are probably right.
But sometimes, when all the auspices are aligned – you just have to do it. In the words of one of my heroes – Scott Jurek.
We’ll leave the last word to the Marathon Man
Keep pushing the limits my friends