exciting, informative, snarky, and very likely fabricated tales of life as an american expat in london

running against myself

by Jen at 1:13 pm on 28.05.2010 | 5 Comments
filed under: run for the ellies, this sporting life

i did it!

my edinburgh marathon official time was 4 hours, 33 minutes, 34 seconds – my second best time.

it was hot (25C and blazing sun! just killer, really) and painful – my hip started hurting at 2 miles in, and i thought for sure i would never make it to the end. when you’re doubting yourself, 20 minutes into a race, it doesn’t bode well – my only goal was to finish.

so let’s just say my use of painkillers would not win any medical seals of approval – i took 3 ibuprofen before the start, 1 dicloflex at 10 miles, 4 more ibuprofen at like 15 miles, and 2 cocodamol at 20 miles. i’ve probably put a hole in my stomach and permanently shrivelled my liver.

i drank and drank and drank. the punishing sun beat down on my face. i forced down nasty energy gels. i passed some runners, and was passed by others. at mile sixteen, there was a course dogleg – seeing the advanced runners already heading toward the end, knowing you still have two and a half hours to go, was incredibly disspiriting.

but somehow, (perhaps because i was concerntrating so hard on putting one foot in front of another) it passed pretty quickly, and before i knew it, i was at the 18 mile mark. that’s when i knew that i would finish for sure, and my goal became to finish without walking.

at some point, i looked at my watch and realised that actually, i was doing an okay time, and that perhaps there was even a chance of finishing strong.

i cranked up the music in my ears, put my head down, and started chugging. ” i will not walk, i will not walk, i will not walk”.

19 miles, 20, 22.

that’s when it got really hard. my hips were aching like rusty ball sockets, and my thighs began to burn with the fire of built up lactic acid. my face was coated with a layer of salt that got into the cracks of my sunburnt lips. my legs seemed to be pulled down by a separate force of gravity.

the 24 mile marker came into view and i pumped my fist in the air with a loud, “yeah!!”, startling nearby runners. i turned up the music even more and began singing aloud.

i wanted so very badly to stop. i began to think about all the reasons i was so desperate to run another marathon – the challenge, the accomplishment, the cause. the 25 mile marker crept up like molasses on a cold day in february. “i will not walk.” i sang even louder to drown out the insistent complaints from my quads, my legs crying out for mercy.

finally, the finish was visible and i let the emotion of the moment carry me across the line. nearly three years since my last marathon, 10 years since my first, i finished marathon #4.

and i was reminded why i do this, why i spent 3 years trying to do this – because each and every time i get beyond the limitations of my fears and doubts and exhaustion, whether that’s at mile 6 or mile 26, it feels like a triumph. there are millions of runners faster and stronger than i – but i can guarantee you, none of them ever have, or ever will, feel better crossing the finish line.

it’s a truth of all runnners: even if you are racing against others, you are first and foremost running against yourself. it is *you* that you have to face every time you lace up your running shoes, and *you* that will always be your biggest supporter. it is *you* who sets your own goals, and *you* that lives up to them.

a huge thank you to everyone who donated to the elephant nature foundation – your money means so much to the rescued elephants, and a tremendous amount to me as well. a massive shout out to my friend fiona, who kindly massaged me post-race.

several days later i’m already pondering what’s next on the agenda. my cousin and her husband (who do ironman triathalons), have been inspiring me to reach for a new goal, and i’ve just got the book “born to run”, so who knows… i have this idea for running 1000 miles in 2010. already got 400 under my belt, so we’ll see.

in the meantime, this was my 25 mile song – it worked wonders to lift my feet and my spirits through that last unending 1.2 miles.

my hero – foo fighters

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1 person likes this post.


  • 1

    Comment by Amity

    28.05.2010 @ 14:48 pm

    Yay! I am so pleased that you made it. What an accomplishment! You should be very proud. As a beginner runner myself, I am inspired by your commitment.

    You know, it always strikes me when you write about running how similar it is to what I felt while giving birth to my son; the natural endorphins, the pain, the determination to keep going, the mental and emotional challenge, the amazing sense of accomplishment at the end. Amazing. Maybe I’m done having children but if I ever want to re-create that feeling I guess all I have to do is run a marathon, eh? -)

    Well done you.

  • 2

    Comment by blues

    30.05.2010 @ 09:52 am

    Awesome! Congratulation. I just loved this post.

    And this: “the 24 mile marker came into view and i pumped my fist in the air with a loud, “yeah!!”, startling nearby runners. i turned up the music even more and began singing aloud.”

    Oh you are such a badass.

  • 3

    Comment by I.

    31.05.2010 @ 19:18 pm

    jen!! you are amazing. i in particular loved the very same line that blues did. i’m going to carry that image and spirit with me as lately i have been feeling challenged by so many things. not the least of which is myself (homage to the title of this post). thank you for serving as an inspiriation yet again. so glad you are in the world. and so glad you have a blog! )

  • 4

    Comment by Jen

    31.05.2010 @ 20:57 pm

    thanks guys! )

  • 5

    Comment by A Free Man

    2.06.2010 @ 04:43 am

    Well done, Jen. I’m not a runner, so I can only imagine the elation and sense of achievement.

    Did smirk a bit at the 25C ‘hot’. You’ve been in Blighty too long!

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