I got home from work last week to find a parcel from the Virgin London Marathon. I ripped it open, suddenly convinced that I'd been successful in the ballot for a place next year. Inside I found a red running top and a magazine with the words 'commiserations!' emblazoned in yellow capitals across the front. I was surprised by how disappointed I suddenly felt. On the day of the Royal Wedding back in April, when I received an email from the New York Marathon organisers, I stood in the media compound by Buckingham Palace and actually shouted out in relief when I heard that I didn't have a place to run in the race there next month. This time it was different. I have unfinished business with the London Marathon.
But my disappointment didn't last long. I arrived at work the next day to find an email from St. John Ambulance. They'd read on Twitter that I'd been unsuccessful in the ballot. "We would love to offer you a place to run for us", they said. Given they picked me up off the floor and got me back on my feet in April, it was an offer I clearly could not refuse. In fact, I was thrilled. It'll be my thank you to Trish and the team of volunteers who looked after me so well at mile 24 and it's the perfect incentive to keep me training through those long winter months. My mother, though, is appalled by the idea. She thinks I am mad and is already dreading the stress of marathon day next year.
But having run it once, I think I will deal with the distance much better next time. I put myself under far too much pressure to do well, ignored the heat of the day and literally ran myself into the ground. When I was feeling dreadful and was clearly suffering, I should have walked for a bit and taken on more water. But my pride stopped me. Next time I will do it differently. So here we go again on the emotional roller coaster of marathon training. I've got a little warm up this weekend in the shape of the Royal Parks Half Marathon in London and then I'll just keep the running ticking over until Christmas.
The big push starts for real on 1st January (though I may have to shift that by a day!) and ends sixteen weeks later in the Mall. When I told a colleague I was doing the marathon again - this time for St. John Ambulance - he laughed out loud. "What? On a stretcher?" he cried. Let's hope not! But one thing's for sure, if I get into trouble again next time round, at least I will know that I am in very good hands.
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