Sunday, November 25, 2012

Crying all the way home

At about twenty miles into the marathon, I felt my eyes begin to well up with tears. This wasn't wholly unexpected: in my first marathon, I was beset by violent mood swings at about that point too. (Perhaps that was partly rage and frustration at having to run past a bunch of ugly concrete and shipping containers, when the first half of the race was in a beautiful fjord.)

I pushed on, and although I panicked a bit later (I was suddenly overtaken by the 3:30 pacers, who I'd gone past 14 km earlier) I satyed focussed. I ran up the Hill of Despair at 38 km, rather than defeatedly stagger up it, and managed to keep basically the same pace to the end, where again I found myself in tears as I crossed the finish line.

Partly that was just from pain and exhaustion, but partly it was because I'd done something special: after four consecutive marathons where I'd got slower and slower, I'd finally turned things around. All that training, all those early mornings where I'd get out of bed and force myself to do hard intervals or run up a hill too many times for comfort, had paid off. I'd arrested the decline in my pace that had begun even before I moved to Asia. I'd vanquished the misery of an almost-four hour time from last year's race, and I'd actually set a new personal best, beating my time from Tromso in 2006 (I think... checking shows I got 3:28:40 - gun time was 3:29:04 but my net from start to end was 3:24:17)

If I hadn't made it round quicker, I think I would have had some crisis of the soul. To have trained so much, to then stoop low, would have been a real shock, a demonstration of the injustice of the world. Not that failure hadn't been possible: travelling in September and October meant I missed out on mileage that I really should have put in before the race.

Strangely, apart from my toilet troubles after the race, and the rank horror that a can of 0% Asahi beer turned out to be, I feel pretty good. Those compression tights, apart from working their way half way down my thighs a minute before the start of the race, have done their magic (or so I think until I try to walk tomorrow). I managed an entire evening of talking to people at a German restaurant, and now I've got six blissful hours of sleep, before I rush back to KIX and catch the first flight back to Singapore. These last few months have been tough at times (all this air travel is not good for the soul) but I've managed to get into the finals of the comedy competition and attend my friend's wedding and set a best time in the marathon. A pretty good way to close out the year.


Post a Comment