I fucking did it. I ran a bloody marathon.
Two days ago I sat on a train on the way up to Edinburgh and I wrote a blog post detailing how I went from not being able to run one mile to being, theoretically, able to run a marathon and now I’m on the train on the way home again and there are absolutely no “theoreticallys” about it.
I did it. I actually bloody did it.
It only feels like yesterday that I couldn’t run for the bus without getting out of puff and I’m now returning home from completing a challenge that is widely regarded as being one of the toughest a runner can undergo. Who’da thunk it, eh?
Let me start by saying: FUCK. Then let me say it a few more times: fuck fuck fuck.
Things I didn’t even think could hurt, hurt.
Honestly. There’s so much to moan about I keep finding myself doing these weird little grunt things (I think they call it attention seeking) and then when Alex asks me what’s wrong I find myself unable to pick one specific thing so just of uncomfortably wail. But as my marathon buddy Steve pointed over breakfast this morning: nothing is broken and all will heal in time. (I sort of wanted to smack him in the mouth for saying this actually because whilst a ~doctor~ might tell me that I was ~fine~, there is honestly nothing on earth that could possibly feel less fine than I do right now… other than, oh I don’t know, Nigel Farage winning in the local elections or something… oh, wait.)
SIDE NOTE: As I was writing this Ed Sheeran’s song Thinking Out Loud came on with the “when your legs don’t work like they used to before” lyrics and hahahaha I FEEL SO SEEN.
ANYWAY. Let’s get to what you’re here for. Let’s talk about the marathon.
The 26.2 miles of hell that unless someone is chasing me whilst wielding a machete, I am unlikely ever to do again (she says, well aware that the minute the agony in my body subsides I’m all too likely to be coerced into again).
Thinking back to the day it already feels like a higgldypiggedy missmash of memories, many of which don’t even feel like my own.
The impending sense of doom crushing my entire body as I woke up yesterday morning, the unusual effort it took me to get my delicious granola (brought from home) into me and the perfectly timed BECAUSE IBS IS A BASTARD upset stomach that saw me squishing Imodium in two at a time for the hours’ pre-race, for example, feel like a lifetime ago.
Walking to the event in the lashing rain, trying to cram my body into Alex’s poncho with him and nervously laughing as I finally began to appreciate the enormity of what I was about to do as we huddled into our “pens” with the 16000 other runners.
The first five miles that I honestly can hardly remember but that have must have been fine because, well, because I hardly remember them.
Getting to the 6-mile mark and telling Steve that I loved 10k distances the best and him telling me that was good cos I had to do three more of them to do before the day was out.
Seeing my mum holding a sign at mile 9 that said WE’RE SO PROUD OF YOU EM and seeing her beaming face and Alex’s massive smile and just wanting to weep because it’s a bloody treat to see people that you admire SO much being proud of you.
Getting to the 13-mile mark and thinking YAY we’re half way there and then in a beat thinking: fuck, we’re only half way there.
Realising that at the 14-mile mark I was beginning to struggle, and telling Steve this.
Seeing the guys again just before the 16-mile point and making my first proper mistake: both before and throughout the marathon I had been saying to Steve that I was going to be running two runs, a 16-mile one and then a 10-miler. The plan was that at 16 miles I would stop, get a drink, have a wiggle, a Nakd bar, a word with myself and then crack on. But I kind of fucked it here; after seeing mum and that lot just before the 16-mile mark and knowing that we would be seeing them again just before the 20-mile point, I thought maybe it would be nicer to hold out for my snack and jiggle until we saw them. Steve pointed out when we got back that moving my finish line like that was probably what meant I struggled so much. (I agreed, I just wish we’d thought of that sooner).
Anyway, miles 16 to 20 were TOUGH.
The whole course turned around at 18 miles – we were on a loop and had, from the 14-mile mark been seeing people MUCH further ahead than us belting back towards the finish line. It would be at 18-miles that we would be able to join them on the home straight. Mentally I was counting on that corner as if my life depended on it.
But then we turned it, and there was no support because we were right in the middle of nowhere, there was a fucker of a headwind AND I was at the point that everyone had told me was going to be the worst. From miles 18-23 you’re going to hate it. That’s what they’d said. So that’s what I did.
Still, we hobbled on, making it back to the others at 20 miles and having a big hug and my Nakd bar and the painkillers that had very kindly been given to me by a beautiful Irish stranger the mile before.
And then there was 10k to go.
And my mind told me that 10k was my favourite distance and it pictured my favourite 10k route at home and it told my body in no uncertain terms that it could do this and then my body flat out ignored it.
For the next four miles I continued on, limping, moaning, walking, running, laughing, thank GOD we were laughing, making friends, tripping over water bottles, wishing there was something to look at other than glorious Scottish coastline.
And then there were two miles to go and we carried on and then there was a mile left and then we carried on and then it was JUST ROUND THE CORNER and I was frantically looking for the corner WHAT CORNER, WHERE IS THE FUCKING CORNER? And then the corner was there and we turned it and we saw the finish line and we were running down it and the others were there and they were cheering we were running and running and then Steve got a fly in his eye (cannot wait to see the finishing photos) and then we were across the line and we were being given our medals and we had a hug that both of us were way too tired to have and then someone gave me a finishers t-shirts which I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to wear because who the fuck would believe that I had actually run a bloody marathon and then it was done and I was sitting on the grass wearing a heavy medal and wondering how on earth I was going to stand back up again.
I don’t know what I thought the end of the marathon looked like but I suppose it included champagne and laughter and a sense of glowing euphoria that made everything, including the suspicious stains on the Ibis hotel mattress, glow in a golden hue.
Please then imagine my disappointment when I got into the car feeling about as nauseous as if I’d spent the day at sea and arrived back to the hotel only to have to lay my broken body onto the bathroom floor and puke my guts up for the next two hours.
MY BLOODY STOMACH.
I have a condition that leaves me predisposed to vomiting anyway so this was not the biggest surprise; I took on a load of water whilst running which is something that I hadn’t been doing on my training runs and I think my body was just sick of being filled to the brim and then relentlessly jiggled. So yes I celebrated not running anymore by sicking my guts up.
And then, satisfied that I was empty of everything and ghostly white under my ridiculous sunburn that I don’t know how I got because it was feckin’ raining most the day, I somehow managed to pull some human clothes on (taking special care not to rip off a toenail in the process) and hobbled to Zizis where I squished eight gluten free dough balls, an entire pizza and a chocolate pudding into my face with all the enthusiasm of the marathon runner that I couldn’t believe I finally was.
We left Zizzi’s to find that the stairs, a challenge on the way, were now absolutely not an option and Alex piggybacked me back to the pavement. We made our way back to the hotel, drank a drink none of us could really muster up the energy for and went to bed.
Everyone told me that I wouldn’t be able to sleep since I’d been so filled with endorphins.
Everyone was wrong and I fell into a deep and painful sleep that for reasons best known to my fatigued body ended up coming to an end at 6:30am this morning.
And that pretty much gets you to now. Give or take a couple of grunts, an hour to get out of bed, a brutal shower that I had mistakenly made freezing cold, and pleading with Alex for him to help me put my pants on for me.
I’m almost back in London and my whole body hurts and yesterday just feels like a dream. A very long dream. A dream that I am SO desperately happy is not actually a dream.
I’ve done it. I’ve run the fucking marathon. All the work, all the miles, all the pain and the stress and the fear: WORTH IT.
It was nothing like I thought it would be. But then, I don’t really know what I thought it would be. I don’t even really know what it was.
Maybe I picked a bad time to write this, I probably ought to have waited at least until I’d had a bath and a proper night’s sleep and didn’t feel as if someone had poured toffee sauce into my bones. But then I’d be writing it with hindsight and hindsight makes everything feel way too easy.
Which is a good thing, in lots of ways, and probably why it wont be that long until I find myself signed up to do something else very soon.
But it wouldn’t allow me to be as honest as I want to be.
‘Cos this whole thing has been about honesty for me; for being as real as I can be. For as long as I have had an Instagram account people have shared their staggering achievements in amongst photos of their perfectly poached eggs. Instagram makes a marathon look like “no big deal” like something that everybody does.
And that’s NOT what that is. That’s not what a marathon is. And that’s not what EVERYBODY does.
This honestly was probably the hardest thing I have ever done.
But by the same stroke, it is the thing that I am the most proud of myself for.
Whatever happens in my life going forwards I will know that I once found within me the extraordinary strength to run a marathon.
There are people out there who make this shit look easy and that is wonderful for them. But I am not, and never will be one of those people. I didn’t find it easy and I hope I didn’t ever make it look like I did.
There have been parts of this I have truly adored, some wonderful training runs, some fantastic lessons learned, some EPIC memories made, and I’m not sure I would actually trade any of it for anything.
I’ve learned more about myself than I thought there was to know. I have pushed myself harder than I ever thought I could be pushed. And I did things I truly didn’t ever think possible.
I am proud of myself in way I didn’t know I could be.
My self worth has always been low and despite a spattering of confidence I can wear like a good coat when I need to, self-belief is something that I am woefully lacking in.
The marathon and all the training that I did for it have helped me to feel worthy of my own love. It has helped me to feel strong and enabled me a sense of pride that I didn’t know I’d find.
It has also afforded me love and adoration for my body that I didn’t think I would or could feel. The love I feel for my extraordinary body right now is like nothing I could have imagined. The stomach rolls that used to upset me so much. The fact that my thighs didn’t touch. The cellulite and fat and stretch marks and hairs that I thought were wrong. I now see them for what they are: part of the brilliant and unique components that make me, me.
And when I say it like that, it all seems worth losing a few toenails for, I suppose.
I’m sure this wont be the last thing I say on the marathon, I think I might do a bit of a Q&A on my Instagram stories and then publish all Qs and As here in a blog post in the coming weeks but for now, this is it.
I ran a fucking marathon, and I couldn’t be happier.
Or more tired. So leave me alone and let me sleep xxx