Wednesday, August 3, 2016

“Are you opened?” – Dublin Marathon 2003 - Part Deux

“Are you opened?”

The shopkeeper loading briquettes into the outside cage on Nutley Lane eyed me with curiosity. I guess despite having a marathon pass his doors every year he rarely had a participating runner enquire about his opening hours. However, stuck between drinks station and my body on melt-down I needed whatever fluids I could get, that was the question I now posed him. Thank goodness for that €5 my mother had given me!

The marathon had started reasonably well. I had no real time in mind as I had never ran a race before to post a time, not a half-marathon, not a 10k, not a 5k. So I just set off at whatever pace came natural. And for a while everything seemed natural. I remember seeing a guy with a headband and a beard (unusual for 2003) with a t-shirt that seemed to be advocating for the legalising of marijuana. As I read his jersey, which was a marked change from all the other club and charity vests we passed the 9-mile marker and I can recall thinking that I was now going into unchartered territory having never ran any further than this before. In my ignorance I think I felt a wave of euphoria. That was the last wave of positivity I felt for days!

Looking back, once I crossed the Liffey things starting to go south, both literally and metaphorically. The leafy south Dublin suburbs that I was not familiar with anyway became a blur or fatigue and pain. Probably around mile 18 my body started a process of negotiation with my brain trying to persuade me to stop, just for a second, maybe a minute. The pain increased metre by metre because that’s how slow it feels when you are suffering. My body implored me, if only it could get a little rest, it would be grand and then we could start again. For an age I held off against its pleading until finally it got hold of my bladder and threatened to piss myself if I didn’t stop running. So just past the Stillorgan bypass I stopped to take a leak and a short little break. And that was it. I was fecked!

I tried to get going but the legs had completely downed tools and were no longer operational. My thighs looked up at me and shrugged their shoulders. My throat felt as my Dad would say like the Russian army had just marched through it while my knees were wobbling worryingly. That’s when I saw the shop. I can’t imagine many marathon runners lining up at the start with €5 in their arse pocket that their mother gave them, “just in case”. In fact, I doubt many marathon runners have an arse pocket full stop! Thankfully I had both and for €2 I had the nicest half bottle of Lucozade something I ever tasted. I told him he could keep the change - it would only weigh me down.

This dose of liquid glucose was enough to keep me alive and got me moving again but it did nothing to lessen the pain. For the final 5 miles I rarely made it into a trot before I was forced to resume walking again so incapable was I of moving at speed. And the worst thing was, the pain I experiencing walking was just as bad as the pain I experienced running.

Finally, I made it to Trinity College where the cheering crowds injected me with a little bit of adrenalin and I began running like a man who’s just been subjected to the most invasive airport security screening ever. With cramps erupting in the centre of all four major limbs, it was more accurate to describe it as a waddle not a run. Then to add to the indignity, an old man who could have been my grandad, if my grandad was still alive, pulled up beside me, patted me on the back, said some words of encouragement I didn’t understand before he took off ahead of me. The indignity!

I did make it home though in 3 hr 49 and 48 seconds, a very respectable time even if the last miles were far from respectable.

I couldn’t walk properly for a week but I learnt two very important things:

1.       I would never ever allow myself to be tricked into walking because it doesn’t feel any better and only extends the pain.

2.       Next time, I would train.

Yesterday’s training
Continued to rest but the physio gave some optimistic news.

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