Running a marathon is a big commitment. Particularly for someone who has a demanding, full-time day job, and also works as a part-time lecturer and freelance novelist, short story writer, reviewer, editor and lots more. And tries to have a life.
I’ve run a couple of half marathons and that’s what led to this: driving home after last year’s Great North Run was when I had the peculiar notion that it might be a good idea to do a full one. Only the day before, as I struggled to the finish line, I remember the striking realisation that to do a full marathon at that point I would have to turn around and do it all again… I still don’t understand how, within 24 hours, I reached the conclusion that that would be a good idea.
Two factors convinced me: almost everyone who completes a half marathon finds themselves wondering what it would be like to do the full thing; it feels like unfinished business. And it gave me an opportunity to raise some money for a charity that has been a huge help to my family over the years. Way back when my oldest daughter Molly was diagnosed with epilepsy, the charity Epilepsy Action were really good in providing support and answers whenever we asked. Over the years, they’ve continued to provide that kind of support at times when it’s been needed. Running the marathon for Epilepsy Action gave me a chance to put something back, and a chance for Molly to be involved with raising sponsorhip too.
So I signed up for the Edinburgh Marathon.
It takes place on 22 May, which seems awfully close right now.
The time commitment has been huge. I’ve been a runner for years, but increasing the distance takes a lot of time. Also, I’m a particularly slow runner (half marathons of two and a half to three hours), which means that once I’m doing training runs of 20+ kilometres (the full marathon is 42.2km) I’m out for several hours at a time. Still, I managed to gradually increase the length of my runs.
Complications kicked in in the last three months or so – probably the worst time to interrupt your preparation for something like this. My fiancee Debbie fell ill over a long period and ended up in hospital for a couple of weeks; over that time it was hard to fit everything in, as I spent most of my time with her, so the running had to slip.
After that I had a particularly nasty bout of Norovirus, which left me sick for a week, and in a weakened state for at least a week more. When I returned to running, I’d gone from managing long runs of 25km to struggling at 5km – the virus really took it out of me. Not surprising really, as at one point I lost 8 pounds in about ten hours.
Further complications? Of course. A recent one was when I helped neighbours dispose of a tree stump. It took four of us to lift it into a skip, but I was the only one who left his hand in the way when we let go. My thumb got caught in the stump, twisted and crushed. It swelled up to twice its normal size and went very blue. I should have had it checked out really, but didn’t. That was about a month ago, and it’s still painful, particularly when I run – it jars with every step, and it makes carrying a drinking bottle really uncomfortable. Debbie’s convinced I actually broke it and I’m pretty sure that’s true. Added to all this, now that I’m covering longer distances again, I’m suffering a lot of knee and foot pain. And blisters. Oh, and I’m getting sciatica after running too, now.
Sounds like I’m making excuses in advance, doesn’t it? That’s not the intention. This is more an account of all the little twists and turns that you don’t necessarily anticipate when you sign up for something as foolhardy as this. Something does always happen: the first time I did a half-marathon I broke a toe ten days beforehand, but still managed to do it.
In a week and a half it will all be over. I’ll get round that course under my own steam, but my ambition has slipped from trying to run it in five hours to simply trying to get round. That’ll still be a pretty good achievement, I reckon.
And would I ever do it again? You must be joking…
You can, of course, sponsor me. Here’s the link: www.justgiving.com/Keith-Brooke.