Monday, 26 September 2011

For whom the bell tolls

I posted yesterday to say that it was only a week to go until I face my marathon challenge in the Highlands, along the banks of Loch Ness and ending up in the fair city of Inverness. And also to say how absolutely terrified I am at the prospect. It really does frighten me. And the closer it gets, the worse I feel. Rationally I'm telling myself not to get worked up, but emotionally, well that's a different story.

Part of the fear is whether my body will hold up for the whole 26.2 miles. So far the furtherest I've run is 18 miles - and that was at a cost. In fact I had a physio appointment this morning to try to sort out the calf strain I picked up as a result of those 18 miles. I was fully expecting not to be able to walk this afternoon, but Simon really must have charmed hands since I'm not feeling too bad after all. It turns out that far from worrying about my calf, it's my shoulders that are the real worry, with several golf ball knots of nastiness tied up across that area of my upper back. Needless to say, I'm booked back in next Monday to undo the damage next Sunday is bound to wreak.

Unfortunately, the calf strain put paid to my distance training, and has also severely hampered my stamina work too. So, in truth, I don't actually know if I have it in me to keep moving for 26 miles.

The other fear is whether I'll be mentally strong enough. Yes, the constant pounding of foot on pavement for 26 plus miles is hard going. But equally tough is the emotional impact. For one thing, running for 6 hours is actually pretty boring - there are only so many times you can run through your current list of 'things to think about'. And then as exhaustion sets in, the ability to put thoughts in any kind of consecutive or sensible order vanishes and distraction by way of thinking becomes impossible. Even listening to music can become a bit of a trial - and that's supposing the iPod lasts as long as I do. Towards the end, there is every chance that I'll actually be forced to think about the fact that I'm running, still running, and I'm not sure that's going to be a good thing. Perhaps the hills will distract me? That's the hills I'll be running up, by the way, not ones to look at!

I was looking back over my various running posts from the last year and I was reminded of just how far I've come in such a short space of time. I had a wry smile when I saw me earlier this year congratulating myself for running 7 miles. I was also reminded how emotional I was when I completed the Edinburgh Half Marathon back in May. Even thinking about it now makes me overcome with emulsion - doubtless it will be much the same on Sunday. Lucky Emma - now you know what to expect!!

Which is an opportune time to give a shout out to my support team - those who've kept me going with advice and encouragement during my training this year, those who've worried about whether I should be doing this at all and tried (for all the right reasons) to dissuade me, the fabulous Sue who stepped in at the last minute to meet me at the end of my half marathon in Edinburgh and the wonderful Emma who has agreed to be there at the finish line to pick up the pieces. As I've said many many times, I have some truly amazing and fantastic friends.

And it's also time to shout out for Frances, my awesome running companion, temporary lodger and new found partner in crime. If it wasn't for Frances, I wouldn't be doing this, and while at times that might feel like quite a good thing, in reality it/she has pushed me to dig down deep and discover inner strength I didn't know I had. And for that I'm truly grateful. Thanks Frances, looking forward to beating this running demon with you on Sunday!


Old Runningfox. said...

Don't worry. It's only natural to be nervous before a race, it stimulates adrenalin - and adrenalin makes you RUN.
18 miles was the farthest I ran before 'most' of my eight marathons, but always completed them. Aged 55 I even ran one on a ridiculously low average weekly mileage, over twelve weeks, of 23 miles - and still finished OK. Marathons are as much mental as physical. If you 'think' you can do it, you most probably will. So start thinking positive!
Good luck.

Bex said...

Thanks, it's lovely to get words of encouragement. Although your track record is pretty scary and I'm definitely not anywhere near your league.

But, since writing the post I am feeling a bit calmer about the race on Sunday. My calf is responding well to its twice daily icing and I realise that what will be, will be. I might as well enjoy it, especially since it will most definitely be the only marathon I do!!

Thanks again for taking the time to leave me a comment