Thirteen months ago I decided that I wanted to become a Marathoner, in the process I would raise money for a worthwhile charity dear to my heart Still Meadows Enrichment Center and Camp. I signed up for the Suntrust Richmond Marathon and started training in earnest.
Prior to this I had completed a few 5K’s having started running in again (after a 15 year break) in the summer of 2009. I steadily increased the distances competing in a 10K and then the Charlottesville half Marathon back in April. Yesterday, my friend Mike Bailey drove us down to Richmond to stay at his families house as they had kindly offered to let us stay there.
The alarm clock went off at 5.30AM this morning. I got dressed, had a bite to eat, and we headed into Richmond at 6.00AM. Traffic was a nightmare so we ended up parking in some random private lot hoping that we wouldn’t get towed away. We arrived at the start/finish line just in time to see the 8K race start.
An hour later and it was my turn to cross the line. I was in a paced team aiming to reach the finish line in under four hours. I started very strong, The first 13 miles were brilliant, I was loving it, I even beat my half Marathon personal best (1:54.37). Unfortunately, I wasn’t getting enough fluids and at mile marker 15 my legs faded in a manner I have never felt before. I had hit the wall in spectacular fashion. Mike noticed at mile 17 that I was so dehydrated, I was no longer sweating. I could barely walk let alone run, I had muscle cramp in the calves and quads of both my legs. I honestly felt like I wasn’t going to be able to finish.
On several occasional I had to stop, sit down and stretch the cramp out of my legs. I was also in calorie deficit and there wasn’t enough energy left in my body to fuel the muscles movements. The time between miles 17-19 saw me battling a mental fight to convince myself to keep on going. By this time I knew that my sub 4 hrs finish time was long gone and I was just wanting to finish. I still had 7 miles to go!
While I was sat down stretching yet again, Mike looked at me and told me I needed to get up and get on as the finish line wasn’t getting any closer. So I got back up and between miles 19-22 I took on loads of fluids, glucose gels and Haribo’s. I made up my mind that I must run the final 4.2 miles and by the time 22 miles rolled around my legs were starting to feel like they could handle it.
I ran the final 4.2 miles, non-stop in to the finish.
As I turned the final corner and saw the finish line in the distance a wave of emotion came over me, I had done it, from this point onwards I would always be a Marathoner, no one could ever take that away from me. I had battled through the pain and made it out the other side. I had raised money for a fantastic charity in memory of my sister. As a crossed the finish line I was beaming from ear to ear and my eyes started to well up. My final time was 4:44.22. While it was slower that I had wanted, I was pleased to have reached my goal of crossing the line.
Obviously I am disappointed that I didn’t make it in under fours hours, and didn’t raise as much money as I could have, but I know I gave it my all and didn’t make it. I truly appreciate the pain and mental battles that Marathoners experience and today I joined their ranks. I do not have an accurate total for the total funds raised as I am still waiting on the total from England but I know I have raised over $1,700 for an incredible charity that desperately needs it.
So thank you for your words of encouragement, and sponsorship. I truly appreciate it. I owe my finish to Mike, I am sure, were it not for him I would not have been able to have finished. Richmond is a great race and I am looking forward to running it again next year. As Mike put it, I didn’t finish today, I started something new.
Now it’s time to sleep. Pictures will be posted soon.