Updated: Jul 15, 2020
The Yorkshire Marathon. What a brilliant turn out in the town and the villages. What fantastic organisation and support. Drumming bands, Scottish pipe bands, loads of family and friends all out to encourage and cheer on their nearest and dearest. What a great event. One of my inspiring memories is of the immortal Jane Tomlinson who I've always thought battled cancer with true Yorkshire grit, a 'NEVER GIVE UP' person if ever you saw one, and one of those imaginary dinner party guests who would always have a seat at my table. I hope (if any of her family read this) they don't mind me mentioning her or using her images, which I know are freely available on the internet. But, what a woman.
Since I've been plodding these past few years, I've met runners who have actually inspired me to carry on my journey by foot, amazing people with stories to tell. How do they inspire me? Well sometimes admittedly it is through competition, a wish and a desire to be 'as good' as they are. Perhaps that's a little misplaced but the determination and spirit these people show I do find seriously impressive. Afterall, running a marathon can be no easy thing. I hoped running would also have an impact in my personal and professional life too, if I could run a marathon or two I might become more dedicated, professional, successful or some other such nonsense. First of all, Richard Rex, he inspired me to run York as I think it's where he achieved his personal best, I wanted to match it. Unfortunately my training has been almost non-existent so it doesn't look like I'm emulating his 3:16 any time soon. My sister, of course, who re-introduced me to my love of running a little over three years ago. Emma, thank you, I still need to beat your Iron Man time. Just quickly, Dianne Morris (an amazing woman who achieves every challenge she sets out to do), Mark Haynes (who demonstrates grit and seems to embrace life and all it brings), Sean Warburton (who 12 months ago I thought I could catch, now I know I never will, dedication and talent, just goes to show anybody what can be achieved if you have a plan and the will to see it through), Paul Brown (effortless is how he makes running look), my son ( he always seems to run with a smile on his face), my other son (he's showing that spirit where even through tears he wants to get to the finish line), all of the 10in10 runners these last two years; each are impressive in their own way and when I'm struggling out there I do think of you together and individually for the lessons you've taught me that I've kept in the carefully tended garden of memories cultivated during some special times.
When entering York, it was always my intention to go sub 3:30. When your training consists mainly of rest, it's sort of unlikely that it would be achieved. Still, what a beautiful day for a run, no rain, cool temperature, great support. Having dot-watched my Toastie friends in Budapest a few weeks ago, who had trained really hard and smart, whereas I hadn't, I intended to be very conservative approaching York marathon. Thankfully today, my body had other ideas. Once the first two miles were out of the way, the consistency in each mile split, according to Strava I am somewhat satisfied by. From mile 3 to 18 there was no more than about 20 seconds, which is not too bad. Even the last six miles when I began to struggle is relatively consistent. I love it when my body takes over any decision making process, my mind is unencumbered and there is a surge of happiness throughout my body, even more so when I smile. You can call it a runner's high if you like but there is nothing fake or forced about it, about as natural as an orgasm, only this elation lasts longer, if I remember rightly...
The last six miles I thoroughly enjoyed too, I really pushed as hard as I could, this is where I still (unrealistically) believed I could catch the 3:30 pacer. I'd seen them on the switchback around 18/19 miles. This is also the point where the mind had to get a grip as the will and strength in my legs ebbed. I forced myself to smile, just as I had done in 2018 and on odd days this year during difficult running periods. My children and I have been singing George Ezra's Blind Man in Amsterdam, the 'bum de de bum', did the trick. Even the odd twinge of cramp around 23 and 25 I fought against and controlled (if you can control an involuntary bodily contraction). Crossing the line with an official finish time of 3:37 is I think not too bad and gives me the freedom to go to Snowdonia with nothing left to prove and I can sit back and just enjoy the UK's best marathon.
Now for the realisation that after knocking two minutes off my previous PB, I need to not get too cocky, I didn't train properly and need to realise that what I've just done is actually nothing to be proud of, but more grateful for, as the course helped but more so the people in the crowd were so encouraging and at points helped sweep me along. Amazing what great support can do for you. By the way, the best goody bag of the year so far, yummy! So thank you York.