I watched some of the London Marathon yesterday; it’s an incredible and inspirational event and for those “fun runners” (and I use the term loosely) who push their bodies to the absolute limit of physical endurance in memory of a loved one, or for a cause that holds some personal significance... well, simply crossing the line must be such a truly emotional experience.
I can’t relate to the elite athletes at all; to be able to run so fast for so long is incredible; great to watch, but impossible to fully appreciate. However, to a certain extent, I can understand a little of what it takes to train an unaccustomed body to run long distances, as I have taken part in – and completed – five Great North Runs.
Yes, it’s only a half marathon, but dragging my weight round 13.1 miles of Tyneside’s finest roads was never going to be easy. I tried to follow a strict regime... of chocolate and wine... and on each occasion, I was able to run ten miles comfortably prior to the actual race. Only once did I ever run further than that in training; I worked on the basis that adrenaline from the atmosphere on the day would get me through the last few miles... you might call it laziness, but it worked... sort of.
My fastest time (and trust me it’s relative) was 2 hours 23 minutes and 22 seconds in 1994. That was ten years before the now infamous “overtaken by a pineapple” incident; the moment when the curtain undeniably started to fall on my running career...
After that race I got a call from my Dad, who’d heard news on the radio that there had been a shock winner... and he wondered whether it was me! Obviously I’d been in contention, but in the end, I wasn’t strong enough to hold off a late charge... from about 30,000 other athletes and a piece of fruit.
Pounding the streets is now a dim and distant memory sadly; I was diagnosed with fermoro-acetubular impingement in 2007. It’s a hip condition commonly known as “pistol grip” (from the shape of the femur and hip joint). It’s where the thigh and hip socket don’t fit perfectly and basically it’s a one-way ticket to replacement surgery... and it hurts...
A combination of years of cricket, badminton and running (all with equally moderate amounts of ability and success) along with a likely predisposition have caused this, but would I swap it all for healthy joints? Not for a moment....
For now though, I take off my proverbial hat to each and every person who took to the streets of London yesterday. I bet you’re sore... but I bet it was worth it...
All my own work... almost.