When I started this blog just over 12 months ago I had 25 marathons to tick off, in order to meet my 50 for my 50th birthday challenge.
It’s a BIG RELIEF to be able to write that I’m down to the final nine – single figures at last.
I know each one is a challenge that still remains, but I feel I’ve come so far, I’m not going to give up now.
Endurance running is such a mind game, more a test of conquering the voice in the head that’s telling you to stop than the physical act of one foot in front the other.
I was acutely aware of this mental struggle on day two of the Hadrian’s Wall challenge, when at around mile 20, I slowed to a walk and found it impossible for the next six miles to really get going again.
I couldn’t detect any real physical pain or particular aches. It wasn’t like I was limping or totally exhausted. My brain just refused to tell my legs to run. It went into a: “Not playing this game anymore,” sulk of its own.
I’d hit The Wall.
Many of the people I’d recently overtaken jogged past me. My eyes jealously watched them go. My legs wanted to join them. My head over-ruled and refused to allow me to do anything but walk.
It wasn’t until I reached 26.2 miles – marathon 41 – that my mind began to lighten up. I found my running feet again and by alternating 30 paces running, 30 paces walking I completed the final 11 miles.
But boy it was hard.
There was no grace, no symmetry, no power in my running. It was simply a determination to reach that elusive finish line in as short a time as I could muster – not to be faster than people I was passing, not to win any award, just literally so I could finally STOP.
When I saw the Gateshead Millennium Bridge I did at last begin to run, really run again – sheer delight carrying me fleet-footed the last half mile or so. I crossed the line smiling, arms raised punching the air. Ten seconds later I burst into tears and kept breaking into quiet sobs as I sat exhausted in the recovery area.
I was going to write so much more this week – about the scenery, the people, trying to stop the bag from rubbing, funny things that happened – but even now four days after finishing, I’m just relieved to have done it.
To have reached that particular finish line – in an overall time of 16:38, 134th place out of the 250 plus who started.
I crossed The Wall.
Single figures now and the hope I can make it to my own finish line.
PS: Thanks for all the hay fever advice following last week’s blog, especially Lynda from BRACE who recommended Vaseline around the nostrils, and my mum who suggested eating honey. I tried both, luckily managing to get them the right way round, and thankfully didn’t suffer too much from the Cumbrian pollen.
Thanks also for all the messages of support – they really helped 🙂