1715 A TALE OF TWO HALFS

Two half marathons that is.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way” 

Charles Dickens described my 2017 Dublin City Marathon experience back in 1859, a hundred years before i was even born.

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Another year of poor training and poor preparation.  Legitimate reasons all bundled up into one year, five months of crazy work load, a back injury, a summer spent mainly in hot climes where temperatures consistently approached 40 degrees Celsius and i struggled to walk, never mind run, followed in the autumn by a series of infections and a stomach bug.  So many mishaps i was too embarrassed to share them with my fellow runners and strugglers during our marathon experience, many of whom were suffering too from illnesses, accidents and injuries during the actual race.  My commiserations and congratulation to all, to those who finished and to those who just could not.

One of the definitions of crazy behaviour is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  Well that’s two years in a row and what have i learned?

Well lets see.

I am fit enough to run a half marathon and pretty much enjoy all of it but that’s a long way from running a full marathon – lesson Number 1.

On the upside, i felt like i’d got full value for my money and my effort by the time i’d reached Walkinstown, where the wheels came off this particular bus this year.  The beauty of Dublin on a partially sunny autumn morning, starting in the Georgian centre, out along the river Liffey, through the beautiful Phoenix Park, along the awesome support and music in Castleknock and Chapelizod.  I could have stopped quite happily at that stage, except for the small issue of a finishers medal waiting for me back in Merrion Square.

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2017 DCM medal with a bust of Jonathan Swift in commemoration of 350 years since his birth.

I started behind the 5 hour pacers, a small issue of queueing for a loo – see previous reference to a stomach bug, passed them out for a while but was overtaken again in Walkinstown and had to wave them goodbye and good luck.

From then on, my hips gave me a lot of pain, connected i believe to my earlier back injury which is nearly, but not quite, cured.  Its a reality check when you are reduced to walking and other walkers are passing you out.

So lesson number two – stick with the physio and the exercises until any injuries are fully healed.

My children were waiting for me near my home at the 18 mile mark.  So i shuffled into a jog and stretched a smile on my face, mind you i was so happy to see them that i was smiling before i thought about it.

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I couldn’t give up then, not when they had come to support me, plus as a father i’m probably supposed to set a good example – such as ‘don’t give up’.  So that’s lesson Number 3, if i hadn’t started because i knew i wasn’t properly prepared, that would be wise and correct and a good fatherly example to give.  However, i went ahead and so, once committed stay the course, the whole course, all 26.2 miles of it.

And so i did and i met beautiful people and it is a beautiful course.

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Dublin City Marathon Course 2017

And today, the following day, i feel a sense of pride that i finished.  A sense of pride which is slightly stronger than my sense of foolishness for having started.  Other than my hips, i i feel good.

…. I slept sounder than ever I remember to have done in my Life, and as I reckoned, above Nine Hours; for when I awakened, it was just Day-light.  I attempted to rise but was not able to stir”

I’ll let Jonathan Swift, in the words of Gulliver just before he met the Lilliputians describe my awakening this morning – words from almost 300 years ago.  Lesson Number 4, being blessed with a good recovery ability is no excuse for being foolish.

The theme of my practical philosophy course this term is ‘Presence of Mind’ which is intricately bound up with, and ultimately about, living truthfully.  So the question arises for me; what does my marathon experience teach me about living truthfully.  It seems to me that the answer, or perhaps answers, is as follows,

If you commit – put in the work,

If illnesses, injuries or other legitimate reasons prevent you from putting in the work – reassess your commitment.

So far so easy; i’m still in two minds whether, in the case of the marathon, i should have pulled out or accepted that it would be slow and painful.

Either is probably an honest way of living, although the second is undoubtedly foolish.

Perhaps it is time, in the words of Anthony De Mello, to accept, ‘I’m an Ass, kick my ass’

crazyhorse

 

Let us finish with a poem from Portia Nelson an American singer, actor, songwriter, author, poet and hero.

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes me a long time to get out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in. It’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault. I get out immediately.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

I walk down another street.”

Registration for next year’s Dublin City Marathon opens in two days time – just saying.

Stay safe my friends.

Keep training

Namaste

 

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