Anyone who’s read more than a couple of my blogs will know that I have a pretty familiar autumn routine, hitting one or two of the same races almost every year going as far back as 2008. This year things were a bit different but I’m still delighted with what I managed to achieve, including my first ever solo marathon two and a half years after the immortal “no more marathons”.
2020 has been the year of a few things. There’s the little matter of a global pandemic and everything surrounding it. It’s been a year of tragic, barely-imaginable loss and heartbreak. The year of lockdown, of not being able to visit any of our loved ones, our friends and family. The year of oh-so-many video calls, of virtual pub quizzes, of substituting sitting in the pub with your mates with sitting on your sofa and getting slowly inebriated while talking all over each other and trying to factor in a delay into the conversation. The year of working from home, of days of meetings over Zoom and Teams, feeling knackered at 5pm just by virtue of speaking into a camera for an entire day.
All of that, but also: it’s been The Year of the Run.
Those of you who caught my last blog will be aware that another marathon was all coming, but what I didn’t mention was that my return to action will be fundraising one, aiming to (hopefully) raise a nice big total for The Christie.
And this is why.
Only around 5,000 people on this earth have earned the Six Star marathon medal for completing all six World Marathon Majors, which puts it roughly on a par with climbing Mount Everest in terms of human achievement. It’s a bold and ridiculous idea and if I’m being honest I’m not sure it’s actually doable.
But sod it, let’s have a go eh.
The 2018 London Marathon was literally the hardest thing I have ever done, ever. It was, almost from the get go, unrelentingly, leg-shatteringly, teeth-grindingly difficult. The warmest race I have ever run, literally the hottest London Marathon on record. A horrendous experience, almost from start to the eventual finish. So why have I entered the ballot for 2019?
Because, as with last year, it was one of the best experiences of my entire life.
I thought I was prepared for quite how big an occasion this would be, but nothing quite prepared for what turned out to be the most brilliantly horrific three-and-nearly-half hours of my life; my favourite ever race.
I’ve waited over half my life to be part of the London Marathon and it was absolutely one hundred percent worth the wait.
I sit here writing this, winding down the training for one last marathon, the final taper period for the one I thought would always get away from me. I’m nearly there. A week today, I’ll be there. Lining up with 35,000 others in a world major marathon for the first time in my life, an ambition about to be realised.
Over a million people have crossed that finish line on The Mall since the first race in 1981, and all being well by around 2pm next Sunday I will be one of them.
As I sit here midway through marathon training for my fourth and probably final push at the 26.2 mile distance, I thought now might be a good time to share a few bits and bobs that I’ve learned over the past five or six years since my first effort.
I can’t promise everything I tell you here is the absolute best way to go about things, but I can certainly let you know what has and hasn’t worked for me in the past. I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way but then finally last April I would say I ran probably the best marathon I’m ever likely to run, using all the benefit of what I’d learned over the years. Hopefully, what I know now will be of some use to you too.
Anyone who has read this blog over the years will be aware of my annual struggle to get into London, dropping my ballot entry in every April and then inevitably getting the dreaded SORRY! magazine in the post six months later, dashing my hopes and dreams for another year. But, finally, this year, I’m in. I’m there. They couldn’t stop me forever.
Round #1 is now complete, the Greater Manchester Marathon is officially done and dusted. 26.2 out of 1000 miles for motor neurone disease are safely in the bag. We’re finally underway people, and we’ve hit our original fundraising total already with 973.8 miles still go. You are all ridiculously amazing, aren’t you?