There’s a famous old saying that you ‘should walk a mile in their shoes before you judge someone’.
Well last October I ran 26.2 miles and think all regular marathon runners are crazy and include my own brother Nick in that.
Just a few days after completing my first endurance race on the streets of Dublin and my body was in pieces. Every possible muscle ached, my appetite was all over the place and I was enjoying a blood blister the size of a large jelly baby on my right foot. And some people do this for fun?
What I do know is that this pain and suffering has since subsided and been replaced by the pride of saying ‘I’ve run a marathon’. It gets even better when I know that my brother and I did it in memory of our fabulous mom and raised over £3900 for Vasculitis UK (www.vasculitis.org.uk) in the process.
I’ve already mentioned why we chose this charity and I’m delighted to say the support we’ve received has been fantastic. Within ten minutes of setting up the JustGiving link, I received an email through from a volunteer asking about vests and t-shirts…on a Sunday.
A lot of the big charities could learn a lesson or two and, better still, all the proceeds go to fighting the cruel disease. No big wages or ‘promotional products’ here folks.
At the risk of getting emotional, it was a few days I’ll never forget and a wonderful insight into the human body and mental attitude.
When I first agreed to do the Dublin Marathon under the influence of a few pints, I knew it would be tough, but don’t think I fully grasped how much it would dominate my life.
The training runs increase weekly (both in distance and frequency), your diet changes (probably not as much as it should have done) and, the closer you get to the big day, your daily routines are based around the 26.2miles.
You also need a very tolerant and understanding wife, which I thankfully have in Mrs C, and some great family and mates who help keep you company during those training runs. Trust me, it can be a very lonely place running 17miles from Albrighton to Priorslee and back!
The other thing that struck me is that you get all shapes and sizes running a marathon. I had this stereotype in my head that you needed to be thin as a rake and a proper athlete to run 26.2 miles.
On the starting line I was joined by an 83 year-old, someone in their mid-50s running his 780th marathon, two tubby but cheerful ladies and someone dressed as Lego man.
In terms of the race itself, the first thirteen miles flew by and I was on course to break 3h 40, which was well ahead of my sub 4-hours target. Then the famous wall hit me like an upper cut off Floyd Mayweather at 17.
The hamstrings got tighter, all energy deserted me and the ‘jelly babies’ weren’t offering their usual respite. It’s then that the mental side kicks in.
It was simply a case of getting to each mile marker and trying to tap into the fantastic noise, support and kindness of the Irish crowd who came out to greet us.
The streets were packed by mile 24 and the second wind arrived, leaving the last two miles a fairly enjoyable experience. I eventually crossed the line in 3h 53 minutes.
It’s an experience I’ll never forget and hopefully an achievement Mom will be looking down on and thinking how well her two ‘little princes’ have done.
Oh and if I could leave one final tip for any future marathon runners…probably not the best idea to rehydrate the body on a mixture of Guinness, Bulmers, Desperados and Jaeger Bombs.