This time four years ago, I was twenty one stone.
Today, I ran a half-marathon.
That sounds like a lead story in Pick Me Up magazine, but it’s a fact! At just after ten o’clock this morning, I lined up with 8,249 other idiots in Phoenix Park to begin the Dublin Half Marathon. I was apprehensive to say the least, after almost three weeks of niggly and persistent little injuries. Nothing specific or traumatic enough to render me immobile (thank God), but just painful and persistent enough to cause me to cut short my smaller runs during the week; and to give me sleepless nights about my long run at the weekend. Hmmm. What to do, what to do? First it was the phantom tendon, then the gammy pelvis, the dodgy hamstring after that, followed by the quad of doom. A physio session on Monday identified my weak arsecheeks as causing the leg issues, but because I had so much thigh action ongoing, I neglected to mention the little pain running along the side of my right foot, just before my ankle….. I figured it would go away.
It did not go away, and on Thursday evening I found myself slowly limping home after 1.86 miles. It’s a long walk home when you’re walking like a war veteran in a pair of fluorescent trainers with a face like absolute thunder. I went to the doctor on Friday evening, and dropped the half-marathon bomb to him. He looked surprised, possibly because he was the very man who berated me for years about my vastness. Anyway, he prescribed some anti-inflammatory medication and told me about the oul ‘alternate ice and heat’ treatment. I had hoped for a very sportsmanlike injection of something to quell my pain and give me a boost, but I guess I didn’t really need it. It would have been a great story to tell!
So off I went this morning, slightly rattling with tablets, and shaking with nerves at the prospect of having to sit on my arse after mile three. Luckily, everything went well! I ran consistently for the first three miles, with two or three quick pauses to pull my M&S wonder pants back down my thighs – they decided to roll up underneath my groovy Nike shorts which was uncomfortable and unflattering. So far so good! I kept a decent pace, and made a few chums along the way. Namely Chris, a pleasant South African dude who complimented the aforementioned groovy trainers; and a New Yorker called Carl/Karl, who is a previous NYC Marathoner. I get the feeling that being a slow coach is better craic – you meet people who have time to talk and are just delighted to be out and moving. Admittedly, there are those who look like they are literally inches from death, but they’re still moving! All shapes, sizes and abilities are out there – so for anyone who has doubts and fears about being last, don’t. If you can jog consistently for the best part of the distance, you won’t be last. Remember, there are always walkers in these events – some fast, some slow. Don’t let fear stop you taking part! Says me…
In conclusion! My trusty Nike Plus told me I had ran 13.11 miles, so I stopped the workout then. The course was around 0.4 of a mile longer, as confirmed by three or four others I was talking to at the end. My Nike time was 2hrs 37mins. I’m quite happy with that! Jussssst under 12mins per mile, which is my usual pace on shorter runs. I guess the adrenaline had an effect! The gammy foot started throbbing around mile eight, due to some slanty footpath action, but I employed some positive thinking to keep me moving. Hilarious – I started talking to myself in the third person and everything. What a douche. Needless to say, the Other Half zoomed through it all in 2hrs 19. My ‘official time’ for the 13.5 miles was 2hrs 42mins, and I wasn’t last. All in all, a win.
All this optimism can’t be healthy.