Many people ask me if I am crazy when they learn of my passion for running marathons. “Why would would you do that?” is often the first question they fire in my direction. Well, here is your answer. I run 42.2 km’s in one hit along roads, pathways and the odd stretch of grass. I run this distance because I love doing it. I enjoy the emotional drain they place on you. I love them because they zap every last ounce of energy from your body. I love them because you are mentally spent by the finish line. They build your character and define you as a human being. There are few greater examinations of the mind, body and soul as there are when you run a marathon.
Over the past month I gave myself a true examination in the art of running. It began four weeks ago with the Gold Coast marathon, continued with the Redcliffe half marathon a fortnight back and concluded with the Brisbane marathon yesterday morning. It is only today that the reality of what I achieved over recent weeks hit home with me.
Yesterday, whilst running my fifth marathon I realised exactly why I love to run.
The race started well enough just after 6 am. I dropped into my normal rhythm for the first 17-19 km’s but it was around this point that something happened. I was about to head into new territory as a long distance runner. This new territory is something I dearly wish to avoid in future races.
With the halfway point fast approaching my legs began to feel like concrete blocks. Dizzy spells we knocking on the door inside my head and I could feel my body starting to shut down. I was feeling sick and within reach of the finishing area as the halfway point closed in. I could have packed it all in and worn a DNF on the chin.
Thankfully that thought never crossed my mind. It was on The Goodwill Bridge that lady luck shone brightly upon now frail body. Just as much as I knew I would need to commence calling on my mental toughness, I ran into my good friend, training partner and mentor, Stevie K who was on his way home after running the half marathon in comfortable time.
Within his bag of tricks Stevie K whipped out two bananas, a gel pack and an energy bar! I knew with my lucky break and food supplies that nothing was going to stop me from finishing the race regardless of how much my body screamed at me to stop.
As the race rolled past the 28 km mark I knew all I had to do was complete what would normally be an early morning training run which entails 14-15 km’s around my local area. The easy part was now ahead of me and I no longer felt the need to pass out thanks to my energy supplies taken on board. The only question now was could I get under the four hour mark by the finish line?
On the Gold Coast a month ago I had set a new PB of 3 hours and 43 minutes. Then, off the back of some good training form I cracked a PB of 1 hour and 40 minutes at the Redcliffe half marathon two weeks later. To be honest I assumed it would be a simple task to complete this race in under four hours considering my recent form. I’m afraid it was time to learn a new lesson.
With one eye on my watch and another on the distance markers it was apparent by the 38 km mark that I was going to finish above four hours. For a short time this proved to be a minor disappointment. I guess deep down I am my own worst critic so when I don’t realise my goals it grinds away at me and sometimes chews me up.
The finish line found me crossing at 4 hours and 9 minutes. My initial reaction was frustration. I began to assess where I could have and should have made up the small handful of minutes over the course. Frustration began to set in however it was short lived. The buzz of finishing a marathon soon came over me and as I waxed lyrical with others who crossed the finish line my mood quickly changed.
I had just finished what less than 2% of Australia’s population have managed to do. I completed a marathon. I had completed my fifth marathon. Most of all I had learnt so many new things about myself in those 4 hours and 9 minutes that I had previously not known. I had found a new level of discipline that only preparing for and running these races on days like this can teach you. There were new levels of mental toughness I imagined didn’t exist that appeared within, almost out of nowhere. Most of all when I could have given up and thrown in the towel using excuses for not finishing I kept going regardless of how unwell I had felt at one point.
Next stop on the marathon circuit will be in just three short weeks up on the Sunshine Coast. With my experience from yesterday under the belt I am more than excited at what I will achieve next time around.