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.
Jonathan Edwards started the race – pic Matt Porteous
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.
The eventual winner Aleskey (Russia) – pic Matt Porteous
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.
The leaders in Waterworks Valley having dropped me – pic Matt Porteous
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.
No longer running tall, relaxed, smiling
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