Lorna may not have had a great marathon experience this year but she struggled through and didn’t quit, which makes this even more of an achievement than her first one in our eyes. LORNA MANN YOU ARE AMAZING, DON’T YOU FORGET IT!
They say never go to bed angry. I say a runner should never go to the start line stressed. That. Was. Hard.
Marathon’s are not meant to be easy, they are the ultimate challenge, however yesterday’s run was hands down the biggest challenge I have ever faced. I walked up to the start from home full of smiles and excitement but it’s only now I realise that I was simply doing my best to hide nerves and fear. When I look back at the past couple of weeks I can’t really believe that I managed to run at all – I barely slept a wink, my stress levels were sky high, my diet in the gutter and I hadn’t been to the gym or put any kind of significant miles in the legs – real life took over training life. Two days before race day I fell poorly – couldn’t move for aches with no appetite (not the best way to carb load I can tell you) and I only managed around 4hrs sleep Saturday night. Regardless I laced up convinced that I would power through and smash the goal I had in sight.
I didn’t. After reaching my parents at mile three I sobbed. Those that know me know that I am partial to a tear or two, but these weren’t my usual tears, these were tears of mental exhaustion. I remember seeing nothing but worry on my Dad’s face as I hugged him – not the pride he beamed last year. Seeing his concern meant one thing – he knew how hard training had been for me this time around. I pulled myself together after about a mile, and the dizziness and doubt took over. I weaved all over the place and watched my pace drop drastically. I was just getting weaker and the heat didn’t help. Half way and my legs didn’t want to move. I couldn’t eat my gels for fear of throwing them up, yet I was starving. This was not good.
Somehow I reached mile 17 still plodding through my “second best” pace and found two friends. I stopped for another hug and a sob. I felt like death. Every little bit of me wanted to ask them to haul me over the barrier so I could end this race and sleep. I fought hard to go on, but not without more suffocating sobs.
Now, I’ve spoken before about Mile 21 – the biggest and best street party there ever could be led by Run Dem Crew runners. Last year I was a total stranger to this group of amazing people yet they welcomed me and supported me with open arms. This year, some of my best friends lined the streets at this point, and knowing I would see them helped me shuffle along a little bit more. The hugs (thank you BANGS!!), the cheers, and the smiles made it all ok for a few minutes. I forgot how awful I felt, I forgot I still had 5.2 miles to go, I just felt happy. Feeling my pain, two of the kindest, most generous people I know came out to run with me. Chevy, a man whose enthusiasm for life knows no limits has been an extraordinary friend to me in the very short space of time he’s been a part of it. Having him pop up at my left hand side for 200m meant the world, and cemented the fact that I have a friend for life in him – it’s the unexpected events and people’s reactions to your unspoken emotions that show their true colours. Hannah – I can’t even explain. This girl took my hand and ran beside me from mile 21 to mile 22. She weaved in and out of crowds on the other side of the barrier, she shouted words of encouragement to keep me focused and to keep me moving and when she could she ran on the course with me. Holding my hand, talking nonsense and screaming bloody murder with the crowd. This was hands down the most special moment of my life. Hannah showed me the kind of support I didn’t know existed. I have no idea how I’ll ever repay her.
Leaving her at mile 22 I kinda gave up. I walked more than I ran – I had come to terms with the fact that this marathon was not going to be my best and I took it easy. Feelings of utter exhaustion hit me at Mile 24 and I turned up my music as loud as I could and tried to drown out the amazing cheers and smiles from supporters – I didn’t feel like I deserved their energy. There was a point where I looked up and took in some of the runners around me – there were people running for lost relatives, people running with lost limbs and people running for amazing causes. I had to take a reality check and realise I had to finish as strong as I could, not for me but for the charity I was representing, for all the donors and for everyone who lined the streets for me. They didn’t care, or mostly didn’t even know what I was personally aiming for on race day, they just wanted to support the cause and celebrate the achievement, so for the last 400m I shuffled to the finish line. I shuffled with sobs and I shuffled in pain but I wanted to finish my second marathon “running” – because that’s what it’s all about.
Despite a very tough day I feel loved. The amount of people that came out and cheered from the side lines was overwhelming and so much appreciated. The amount of support I had from friends, family and followers that couldn’t be there was immense. I’m grateful for every message and am proud to have you all in my life. I have six months until my next marathon and I will learn from yesterday. I’ll learn that you can’t control everything and that the achievement is in receiving that finishers medal – how you get there and how long it takes to get there is irrelevant. I read a line from one of Mo Farrah’s race reports: “that is what marathons do: make a mockery of past reputation and the best-laid plans” – this is what I’ll keep in mind whenever I hit the start line.