I can tell you exactly when I knew I could run a half marathon. It was New Year’s Eve 2013 and I was running what was, at the time, my longest run. Just shy of 8 miles. Running 13.1 miles in one go had until this point seemed like a serious impossibility even though my first half was three weeks away. Then I ran, and I ran, and I actually enjoyed it. I remember it like it was yesterday, that feeling of strength and power where you feel like you can do anything and then at 5 miles I ran past Helsby Street and took it as a sign that I would and could finish Helsby Four Villages Half Marathon. I started the race with my head held high, felt like I glided through the race and was an emotional wreck when I crossed the finish. That overwhelming feeling of completeing something that seemed crazy but you have no doubt that you are going to achieve it and then you do. I think it’s the most emotional I have ever been.
Strangely, I didn’t get the same for my first marathon. I guess it’s because I just went and did it last minute and there was literally no one but the race orgasniser at the finish. I was half way home on the train (the train station had way too many stairs by the way) before I even realised what I’d done but it didn’t hit me like that first half. I’d have to wait for my first and second Dopey Challenge finishes in 2016 and 2018 for the same response but it wasn’t quite the same. Finishing the 7 in 7 earlier in the year came close. I had to stop myself from crying quite a few times on the final day. Then the two sub 4’s at Brighton and Belfast again hit me with an overwhelming sense of achievement and shock (I seriously wasn’t expecting either of them).
I’ve been pretty lucky then to experience such running highs but I don’t think and of them can compare to Friday 23rd August. This was the day when I knew I could run 10 marathons in 10 days but more than that, perhaps more importantly, that I could and will complete 52 marathons in 52 weeks. That I’ll reach my 100th marathon. I mean up until this point I’d been like yeah I can do it, I probably will do it, maybe possibly I’ll do my best to do it but it was never grounded in a sense of reality and conviction. 15 marathons to go until I reach the 100th. 16 for the 52 in 52. That might seem like a lot to some people (although for others I know it’s probably a quiet month) but for me it’s like the last 5k. When you’ve ran 23 miles already and you know that, unless you get hit by a runaway truck or blown of to Oz or something, you’re going to cross that finish line. You just know it.
Any nerves or doubts I had about the challenge have now gone and so the next few months is just going to be about enjoying the rest of the journey (whilst avoiding injury of course). I’ve got Richmond in Kew Gardens just over a week. I’ve never been there but I think it should be quite pretty. It’s also my last multi race day for quite a while as I’ll also be doing the 5k and 10k the days before and the family mile race after.
Then then then then then it’s my favourite bit. 6 marathons over six Sundays in a row with three (I said Three!!!) World Majors. Berlin, Chester, Chicago, Niagara Falls, Marine Corps and New York!!! I seriously can’t wait and I love that Chester is in the mix because it’s seriously one of my favourites. It’s such a crazy World Tour because two of the cross boarders so there’s Germany, England, Wales, America, America, Canada, America, America. I think I’m going to be the happiest runner ever returning with those medals.
Then there’s just the final 10 in 10 and I’m done. Will then just sleep for a billion years or at least for a week. Until Lanzarote marathon the week after (It’s my backup 52nd but as long as I stay injury free I won’t need it but might as well finish off the marathons where the 52 started).
It’s going to be quite a journey (figuratively and literally) but I ain’t worried. I got this.
I’m racing 52 marathons in 52 weeks for
Warrington Disability Partnership. They are a very special charity who do amazing things for local people so if you can spare any cash please feel free to sponsor me.