…continued from Part 1: The Journey Down.
The day before VLM 2015
It’s the day before my 6th marathon – my 4th London Marathon. I’m in the bath in our hotel. We’ve done a few sight-seeing touristy things (to the extent that we could cope with the busyness of Borough Market, as vibrant and awe-inspiring as it is). These are the kind of comments I’m now receiving: “Oh you’ve done it before, you’ll be fine!” “What have you got to worry about? You could do it in your sleep!” I’ve received a number of lovely, heart-felt good wishes by text and tweets. One guy I met randomly at the Cross Bay Half marathon 4 years ago tracked me down on Twitter just to say ‘Hi’ and wish me luck. My old PT client and podiatrist sent me her annual pre-London virtual hug text message, complete with gormless thumbs up selfie. All of them make me smile. They know what running means to me, and they know it’s part of who I am. I am grateful for every kind thought that I receive – they will all help to propel me along the 26.2 miles I face along with 40,000 others in the morning.
Me and Gav have just watched a BBC 1 programme about Paula Radcliffe who is running tomorrow. We were in bed, transfixed like two automatons processing her every word, admiring her work ethic, courage and philosophy. So what – she just happens to be the fastest female marathon runner the world has ever seen. Genetically, she was blessed. It was her gift which she worked hard for, and which she shared with the world. But more than that, she simply loves running. It feeds her soul in the same way that it feeds mine. That I can only run at a fraction of her speed bears no real significance – we had very different paths in life. However, on our love of movement, the rhythm and the peace, the challenge and the beauty – even the adversity which running brings – we are the same. That she feels like her soul is filled, happier, more able to deal with life’s good and its not so good by putting on a pair of trainers and clocking up some miles – we could bond over that alone.
Her bravery in facing such a cruel, judgmental world stage over her career makes my worries about PBs and getting a “good time” tomorrow seem somewhat silly – futile even. But they’re not. They are equally valid – just on my own, far smaller, less impressive stage. They symbolise progression, achievement, development, dedication, effort, hours invested, miles run, demons battled, medals (and even some prizes) taken home. And these have been hard fought – against the odds.
From a non-runner to someone who people now “assume” will find running a marathon somehow more comfortable than the next person. It’s simply not true – what is true is that I’ve put myself on the starting line a few more times. More times than I could ever have dreamed of, never mind achieving results I wouldn’t have believed I was genetically programmed to realise (remember the 16 year old who repeatedly came last at Cross Country? I see her most mornings looking back at me in the mirror.)
I’m about to get out of the bath. Maybe we will go to the cinema and watch a film, to take our minds off what’s in store tomorrow. It will be a miracle if I can sit still for the duration of a film, so good luck with that one, Gav.
But, at the very least, I feel more relaxed and at peace knowing that I am brave enough to stand on the starting line once again, and give it my best shot.
I wonder how the next chapter will go….