I don’t think it’s going to take a genius to realise what this post is about.
That’s right. Mrs “I’m probably never going to do a marathon” only went and got a ballot place for VLM 2021.
You know what it’s like. You watch the marathon, get sucked up in the emotion and enter the ballot with a tear in your eye after watching a man dressed like a camel tell his family he loves them at mile 21, knowing full well your chance of getting a place is something like 1/25. Even the weirdness of the 2020 marathon didn’t stop me as I watched all of those amazing runners take on the challenge virtually, without even the famous London crowds to cheer them on.
But then I forgot all about it, and when my email turned up last week I clicked the link with a wry smile fully expecting the usual “commiserations” message and preparing to go about my day. So when I saw the lovely red-headed lady’s face with the words “YOU’RE IN!” I did whatever anyone else would do. Started shaking and immediately went to the toilet. My body basically went straight into fight or flight mode, just like it always does on any event start line. Adrenaline is a bitch.
As I saw the disappointed posts start to come in on the Ely Runners Facebook page, without a single person saying they had been successful, something stopped me from getting involved in the chat. I think I needed to take the time to absorb the news and to accept the enormity of it for me as a runner. So many of my incredible clubmates have done multiple marathons, and although they all respect the distance, for a lot of them, it no longer holds any fear. But for me, I have a comfort zone, and it’s 5km.
But here I am, a week later, and I’m – dare I say it – a wee bit excited? I feel incredibly privileged to have something to train for in a time when few races and running events are taking place. And I have been utterly overwhelmed by the support I’ve received. I have a training plan coming my way courtesy of Charlotte. I have offers of running buddies on those long runs from Justin, Shaun, Pete and more. I have offers of dealing with the nutrition and mental side of things from Jo. And I have had nothing but messages of support from those I’ve told, all who have made me believe that yes – I can do this.
But I know I have a lot of work ahead of me, and it’s not just about getting the miles in. Anyone who knows me knows I’m going to want to do this to the best of my ability, and to do that I have things I need to work on. I need to work on my core and glute strength to manage my hyperlordosis which tends to make itself known around 10 miles into any longer run. I need to stay on top of my rehab and make sure I look after my calves which have a habit of tightening up thanks to my form which sees me running up on my toes (in a time when I can’t see my physio for my monthly MOT). I need to be more structured in my training instead of just running what I want when I want. But most importantly, I need to sort out my head. I need my brain to stop telling me that I’m not capable of such a long distance, that I’m simply not built for it. I need to believe in myself.
But the best bit of advice I’ve had so far has come from Charlotte, who immediately told me not to think about the time, and to instead treat London Marathon as the event it is. She told me to make sure I take everything in and be truly present, because London is an experience, and it might be a once in a lifetime one for me. If I enjoy the distance and decide I want to do other marathons, I can focus on the time then. London shouldn’t be about that. And in her words, “It’s about looking back and saying you did it and enjoyed it rather than ‘got through it’.” Amen sister.
So prepare yourself folks – I’m about to embark on a marathon journey, and I really hope you’ll come along for the ride.