After Longford 2008 and Cork 2010 (drawing a veil over two previous ignominious DNFs) I declared ‘never again!’ Two miles from the end of Jersey 2015 I fervently wished I had stuck to that. That two miles could have been two hundred as far as I was concerned.
I’ve done OK these last 16 months. I’ve totally reappraised my eating and drinking habits, lost a bunch of weight, have trained and raced well. In fact in my 63rd year I’ve set a new PB (PR in the US) for 5k and have come close to doing likewise for 10k. So, deciding that life’s too short for regrets I put my name down for the 10th running of the present incarnation of the Jersey Marathon.
Now, it must be said I’m no runner. I only started 13 years ago to regain a bit of fitness and grew to enjoy it without ever getting beyond the ‘respectable’ mark. Still I had hopes of getting inside my previous best mark of 4:27, a rate of 10-minute miling.
So, four miles in and averaging 9.21m/m. In fact, with the exception of a sharp uphill section in Mile 5 I didn’t slip into 10-minute miling until the second half of the race. A mistake? Possibly. But sometimes you just go with your gut feeling. It was a perfect day for running, mercifully the cloud cover remained keeping the temperature down and I was enjoying the great race experience. As well as the individual marathon there is a team relay. The result is that it’s a dynamic experience for runners and spectators. The support throughout from the Jersey public was awesome, the best I’ve experienced.
They say – and how true it is – that the second half of a marathon starts at 20 miles. From Mile 15 I had to start to dig deep and from Mile 20 it was becoming a serious challenge. Never a thought of quitting though – you find ways and means from that point. Thankfully there’s a downhill section bringing the runners down to St Aubin with three and a half to go. Another painful mile and my legs done packed up on me. For the first time in a marathon I was reduced to alternate walking and running. The mainly younger, fitter relay runners streamed by together with a number of marathoners. Many had words of encouragement to me and others as they did so.
There are many examples of battling through the pain barrier. Today once again it was Anthony Lewis a local journalist who suffered a catastrophic stroke several years back. It is an achievement for him to manage one painful step. Today he pushed his body to a half-marathon in six hours.
The ‘central governor’ theory propounded by Tim Noakes is interesting. It holds that the mind protects us from over-exertion by programming our muscles accordingly. The trick is to over-ride the theory. Thus, with the finish at last only a few hundred yards away all the pain slipped away and I was striding like a champion down Conway Street, Commercial Street and Wharf Street lined with fantastic support to finally make the finish line at the Weighbridge in a chip time of 4:34.31 and 15th M60.
And I’m happy to say, slow or not, I still beat my beautiful and very fit daughter Emma (26) who finished her very first marathon.
Yes I’m pleased I gave it a shot but – never again. My mile splits which tell a tale were