I’m not quite sure what possessed me to sign up for Saturn Running’s back to back marathons, other than to quote The Cranberries album, “everybody else is doing it so why can’t we” and maybe a need to see what if? Most of the marathon runners I spend time around at Saturn and Phoenix events have run multiple hundreds of marathons, or at least that’s the way it feels. I’m always eager to hear any advice people have for me, but honestly it’s usually something along the lines of “just get out of bed and go run”.
I was feeling pretty nervous about the weekend, but the goal was to finish my 12 marathons in 12 months this weekend, 2 marathons ahead of my original target of November 11th.
Saturdays run was a really odd one, I woke up with no real feeling about the day although it was a pretty nice coincidence I had race no. 11. All I could think was that I just had to get to Sunday morning and make it out of my bed and to the start line. It was such a lovely sunny day, I just enjoyed something slower than a 26.2 bimble chatting to Leon and Katie, my running buddies for most of the day. Leon was going for the 50k and this was Katie’s first marathon back after a few months off injured. Both of them were also doing the marathon on Sunday, it’s funny but it was just a given that they’d be completing the distance, jesus I really need to get control of my chimp (Chimp Paradox – great book) one of these days. After finishing I had a good stretch, home for some pasta, lots of water, a little foam rolling, a bath with salts (as suggested by Leon) and a very early night.
I woke late on Sunday morning, I’d forgot to set an alarm and so ensues a slight panic. I rushed out of bed to get porridge, chia seeds and honey inside me, then my standard marathon kit together (Sandhurst top, Ronhill twin shorts, Hilly socks, NB shoes, baseball cap, trusty belt & water bottle). Maybe sleeping late helped as I actually felt pretty relaxed, my legs were a little stiff, but nothing like a usual next day marathon zombie walk. This was going to be a special day, as my wife and daughter were coming with me and my wife would run the last 3.28 mile lap with me.
I went to register on Sunday and I had no. 12, George the awesome race director had given me the numbers 11 and 12 for my 11th and 12th marathons which was a lovely gesture. George also announced my 12 in 12 before the race brief and in my mind that was the only distance I was covering today. Martin Gould who has been my marathon buddy from my second marathon pretty much to marathon 12 (he was away on holiday for marathon 11 the slacker!) is there to greet me at the start and our other halves go off shopping in Staines while we run. My pace was pretty much my usual marathon pace for the first half and I even had a second wind at mile 8 but that lasted a single mile. I caught up to Katie at mile 14 and at that point I’d pushed it hard and was really starting to flag, thankfully she was walking and we spent a couple of laps going slow and chatting. At this point I was starting to get pain just above my ankle in both legs, running or walking both hurt. Katie finished her marathon and I still had 2 laps to go but there was no quit in me.
After a couple of laps walking and starting to feel a deep ache in my lower shins, it felt easier to run with a little walking. Half way through my last lap, Jonathon, who I’ve got to know over a few races was lapping me and slowed down to chat and say well done on the 12 in 12. I said I was finding it tough and he said “yeah, it’s like when you run your first marathon, it gets easier next time.” I put my running playlist on and I hit a song which really resonates with me when I’m struggling when I’m finding it tough – “Bang my head” (key lyrics at the bottom of this blog) I made it through my second to last lap feeling spent but knowing my wife was going to be there with me and what is 5k ish? As it turns out the last 5k is friggin’ hard, my wife likes to run fast and then get out of breath and complain about being tired and then spend the remaining time telling me how she should not complain as I’m the one who ran marathons etc. We make it to the finish and the fantastic Martin Gould and his lovely other half are waiting for us at the finish even though Martin finished almost an hour before me.
Would I do it again? Hell yeah.
Bang My Head
Bang my head against the wall
Though I feel light headed, now I know I will not fall
I will rise above it all
Found what I was searching for
Though I felt light headed,
I should have failed, and nailed the floor
Instead I rose above it all