Today started off well, and we got to Stansted in good time, but quell surprise, I set off the security alarm with my hair clip and the studs on my jeans, which resulted in the usual pat down performance that I regularly get at airports. Gate change caused confusion, but the flight took off in good time, and before we knew it we were touching down in the fair city. Car hire was less of a painful experience than last year, and it didn’t take long to get to where we were staying which was just as well because by that point, after 12 hours of travelling, I was shattered. Sleep wasn’t easy to come by though, with C’s snoring keeping me awake the first half of the night, and early flights taking off keeping me awake through the early hours.
Seemed a good idea to get registration over and done with today. Last year we got there just before it opened, and had to queue for ages, so this time, we left at 12, which paid off because by then there were no queues. Was left on my own briefly to contend with my own private fear and panic (as I approached the building, I told C, this is it, my last chance to turn back, to which he inquired if it would be necessary to drag me inside the building!) Purchased official teddy bear, as I had promised my son I would, and before we left we both signed the Adidas wall. I wrote an inspiration message to myself that I wouldn’t let C read (lost for words? He asked. Thats a first he said!) and C wrote a message of support for me which was very touching. On the way back into the City, I was quiet (too quiet for C’s liking) as I was swamped with feelings of guilt (for not being as supportive as I should have been when it was C in my place this time last year-I just didn’t understand) and privately freaking out about the path that lies ahead. C and I talked and that helped to quell some of my fear, and I had a good nights sleep.
Today was all about resting, and an early night was necessary. Ipod froze which caused a minor (though I am sure C would call it a major) tantrum on my part. I stressed because I find it imposible to run without music. He suggested that if I left it to run out of charge and then recharge it, then it might work in the morning, but that even if it didnt for some reason it wasnt the end of the world because he would lend me his player. When we went to bed, he gave me some last minute advice and wisdom, and told me not to worry, that no matter what, he knew I could do it.
Woke up early, and told myself I wasnt going to think any more than five minutes ahead. The first stage was just to get dressed. Then breakfast. I felt sick, but I was determined not to let my nerves get the best of me, and ate even though I didnt feel like it. I told myself as I looked out the window, assessing the weather, that today was a good day for a run. I told myself that I was just going for a run around Dublin because I just happened to be there. This seemed to work, and apart from a momentary freakout in the car on the way into the city, so long as I told myself I was just going for a run, and I would see how many miles I could do, rather than think of it as a marathon. Last minute kiss goodbye, and I was on my own, seperated by a few thousand other runners from C. My GPS froze on me, and momentary panic set in as I wondered how i would pace myself, cursing myself for not wearing my watch instead, but it was too late to do anything, so having managed to get the cover off the back, I replaced the batteries.....and then we were off, a mass of people running over the mats that recorded our chips, and the GPS eventually kicked in at the first mile. This through me as I was unable to work out my times, but in some ways I suppose it made me concentrate on running what I could, walking what I couldnt rather than focusing on my time. I actually managed to continuously run the first .5 mile continuosly but couldnt keep this up, and relaxed myself into running what I could and walking what I couldnt. This paid off for the first half, a distance I knew I could do, having worked up to 12 miles in training, but still I was surprising myself as I ran past groups of tens of runners, and as I came round the bend in phoenix park I was even more surprised to see thousands of runners behind me. I crossed the 10 k mark at 1:37:11 faster by 5 minutes than my first 10 k time, and 7 miles later, I crossed the half way mark at 3:31:34, faster than I have ever run, because my 12 mile training run was completed in 3:45. This first half was blissfully easy. However it was downhill from there on in (and not in a good way!) as I was resigned to walking with the odd run to remind my legs what I actually expected of them. At mile 18, a girl I had passed a couple of times, and part of a group I was pacing myself with, kissed her friend goodbye, as I realised she was dropping out. I stopped to check if she was alright, and offered her the comfort and support I would have hoped to have got if it were the other way round. As miles 19,20, and 21 went by, I wondered about C, because he had said he would come back and find me somewhere around there, once he had finished. I didnt worry too much when I didnt see him though, and was caught by surprise as I saw him strolling down the road between miles 23 and 24. I said if hed been there at mile 20 I would have been in better form, but he said he couldnt believe how bright I looked and that I was still chatting away, full of energy. As it got colder, aches turned into pains. and sheer exhaustion left me questioning the existence of the finish line, but I was determined to finish even if it killed me (although I seriously thought it would actually kill me). As the last few miles slowly went by, and my right leg (which I injured a coulple of weeks ago) grew more and more painful, I was more and more greatful for C's support, and there were times when I only carried on because he was assuring me it wasnt that far, and was helping me to walk. 26 mile marker in sight, I knew it was almost over and I knew conserving my energy was going to pay off; I had sprinted over every marker so far, and I was determined to sprint over the finish line. As the last of the marshals directed me to the finish, I let go of C's hand, and I was off, using the last of what I had, giving it my all, determined to cross the line in style, and surprised myself (but apparently not C) as I thought all I had in me was a jog, as I got faster and faster. I crossed the line as the clock ticked over to 7:52, but my official chip recorded time was 7:46:32. I swore about it being over to the marshal who greated me with my goody bag, somehow managing to smile for the photo, and turned for my medal, and headed back to C, to collapse, as my right leg hadnt appreciated the sprint, and now I was barely able to walk. Of the 11000 people who entered, 8428 people finished, and of those who finished, I came 8404.
I expected to feel elation as I crossed the line, but I felt relief, and I expected to cry, but I was so exhausted that I didnt even have the energy to do so.
I dont think its fully sunk in yet, what I achived yesterday, and though I remember most of what happened, I am struggling to assess or even describe what happened, so I shall leave it at that. Will I do it again?............
Yesterday I said, no, never, once is enough.
26.2 is only for the brave or the very fool hardy.....
but today I say ask me again in April.