50 – It’s Only a Marathon

When did I start using the term “it’s only a marathon”?

For people new to running the – it’s only a marathon – statement can make even the most confident Parkrun runner feel completely inadequate.  They’ve trained soooooo hard.  Followed the couch 2 5k training program.  Dragged themselves out of that lovely warm cosy bed and put some effort into training for that 5k distance.  5 kilometres of exhausting effort!!  Then they overhear some other runners talking and the – it’s only a marathon – happens.  WHAT!!!! Hang on a minute.  You mean I’ve been training, sweating, heaving and slugging away at 5 kilometres and there’s a whole bunch of runners out there that think the distance of 26.2 MILES is ONLY A MARATHON!!

Now – let me put this into some kind of context that does not in any way insult any new runner or dedicated 5k, 10k and half marathon distance runners.  I started out barely able to run a mile.  I’ve chipped away at the endurance and I can mostly run continuously for 20 miles.  With extreme stubbornness I can manage 50 miles but I’m not running the whole distance.  I’m walking hills, taking short breaks, enjoying the views, taking pictures, eating (icecream/sandwiches/cakes) and managing my body so it WILL keep moving over a stupidly long distance.  To begin with the thought of 26 miles was horrifying.  With experience and LOTS of training I’m able to view 26 miles in the same way people travel to work or drop kids off at school.  Think of ALL those individual little things that need doing, what to wear, how to drive a car, where the school/work is……… it’s an endless daunting list of processes that when looked at individually appear impossible to achieve.  Yet – everyone does.  Through training and experience I am able to view 26 miles in the same way – it’s a list of processes required to get to the finish in one piece.  The requirements can change at each event but still – the effort and mental ability is forever adapting to each situation.  For those of us that do utter the horrifying statement – it’s only a marathon – it’s because we’ve experienced that distance enough times for it to become “normal”.  Yes – NORMAL.

So – why am I trying to comfort runners who do not “normally” run marathons?  It’s because I used to be one of those runners.  The thought of 26.2 miles was horrifying.  50 miles was sheer craziness!!  I would like to congratulate ANYONE who’s taking the time to get out there and run – no matter what distance you’re running!!  IF – one day – you’d like to try to increase your endurance.  Just remember – the distance will only become normal if you experience it enough times.

Last weekend – I’ve experienced the marathon distance as part of a running event 50 times!  I have completed 41 marathons, 6 30(ish) mile events and 3 50(ish) mile events.  In total 50.

LDWA Heart of England Forest Marathon 2015 – inaugural event.

Got my running legs ready for the inaugural LDWA Heart of England Forest Marathon
Got my running legs ready for the inaugural LDWA Heart of England Forest Marathon

So there’s me.  Ready for the start, messing around with my gopro camera taking pictures of equipment and I thought this picture said it all.  I’ve got my running legs on today.  I’m going to run as much as I can but still enjoy this thing.  Etrex is all programmed, camera charged, food packed, running pack comfy and spotting people I’ve seen at other events makes the start a very nice one indeed.

Henley in Arden School - very eye catching artwork.
Henley in Arden School – very eye catching artwork.

The outside of the school looks like a lovely place to start a long run on the trails.

A short walk across the road, a quick speech and then we’re allowed to go.  No starting gun or horn, just a general “we’re off” rush forward.  Lots of bleeps from various sport watches and I’m keeping up a pretty decent pace over the first couple miles.  A few stops and starts and then the crowd of runners thins out.  I’m not running with anyone today but lots of friendly peeps saying hi, lovely weather and the like.

First checkpoint was easy to pick up a cookie, drink a little, check out the instructions and then carry on running.  I’m a little surprised I’ve got loads of energy still.

Checkpoint 2 goodies - cuppa tea with sandwich.
Checkpoint 2 goodies – cuppa tea with sandwich.

Second checkpoint I nearly ran straight past.  I hand over my tab to be marked and grab a cup of tea which was lovely.  I’m then offered a bacon or veggie sandwich.  Ooooooo the sandwich was just what I needed.  Out of the checkpoint and down a track to be confronted by a hill that was hiding behind that tree in the picture.  Perfect.  I’ll just walk along and slurp/munch away at my checkpoint bounty!

The views were lovely and some of the track/instructions weren’t obvious.  Thankfully all the lead runners had left some pretty obvious clues on which path to take.  Mud is not always a bad thing…..

I see Salomon & Inov8 but don't recognise any others. I need to read up on running shoes!
I see Salomon & Inov8 but don’t recognise any others. I need to read up on running shoes!

Just to prove – there WAS MUD on this trail and LOTS of footprints!!

Not long after this MUD picture I met up with Sarah and her friend.  We’d been passing each other and as I had a track to follow I was confident on where to go.  So we eventually teamed up and spent the last few miles enjoying stories and views.

Lonely sunflower
Lonely sunflower

All the other sunflowers were full of seed.  This lonely sunflower is determined to be bright and happy.

Caught having fun - I was only laughing about hills!
Caught having fun – I was only laughing about hills!

How could I NOT have my picture taken here?  LDWA trail running = lots of fun and not being super serious!

This church reminds me of a church in the film - The Borderlands.
This church reminds me of a church in the film – The Borderlands.

I kept having de ja vu all the way through this event.  Then this church comes into view and I’m reminded of a film – The Borderlands (wiki – The Borderlands 2013 film).  I enjoy most horror films but this one creeped me out!! Shudder!!

A look back into my running history and I was right – I had run part of that route before.  The Broadmeadows marathon – an out and back marathon that used the some of the same trail for this marathon.  No wonder I was getting the feeling I’d been here before but couldn’t quite figure out why! Strava – Broadmeadows marathon 2013

Last checkpoint achieved and the very friendly volunteer tells me its all flat from there to the finish with a big smile on his face.  Why was I suspicious of that smile?  It looked overly friendly.  Hmmm.  Oh well.

Don't forget to enjoy the trees on the Heart of England FOREST marathon :-)
Don’t forget to enjoy the trees on the Heart of England FOREST marathon 🙂

During the final hill (flat till the finish – HAH!!) that was covered in trees I took a moment to look up.  I love this sight.  Trees and the cooling, calming effect they have.  Just chill and enjoy our beauty.  Mmmmmm okay…….

Pointless piece of fencing in the middle of a field?!?!
Pointless piece of fencing in the middle of a field?!?!

Along with my pointless kissing gate or pointless stile this seemingly pointless piece of fence next to the footpath through a field has been added to my collection.  Now I’ve pointed this out how many are you going to find?

I finished in an amazing (for me) 6 hours and 8 minutes.  HUGE thank you to Sarah and her friend who kept me pushing towards the end.  I CAN do it if I try.  However, I do feel a tad more wrecked afterwards!  A fabulously yummy fruit trifle at the finish was just what I needed.

Heart of England Forest Marathon certificate, trifle and cuppa
Heart of England Forest Marathon certificate, trifle and cuppa

A very BIG thank you to the organisers and volunteers of the inaugural Heart of England Forest Marathon.  It was lovely and having a tree planted for every entrant was just fabulous.

I’m now trying my hardest to get rid of a cold before next weekends adventure which is – only a marathon………

Enjoy

Helen

🙂

2 comments

  1. Loved it! 🙂 this post resonates with my favorite quote from Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal) — “If marathoners are cheetahs, ultra marathoners are more like overly-caffeinated mountain goats. We don’t sprint through the savannah, we methodically trudge over mountains while eating everything in sight.”

    • Hahahaha!!! LOVE The Oatmeal and his Blerch 😉
      Thank you. I had to explain why I said “it’s only a marathon” to someone who gave me a horrified look. She was just starting the couch to 5k and there’s me making her feel utterly inferior without realising it. Then it sounded inspiring!! Deffo not a cheetah!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s