Tomorrow I’m running my 5th marathon on the Isle of Man but these marathons are coming thick and fast. its has only been two weeks since the last one…
Summer Around The Reservoir was incredible. It was the 5th marathon of 6 I’m running in 6 months, while undergoing chemo for terminal bowel cancer and a lot different to the previous three. It was hot, very hot, but I was compensated in other ways. Lots of my family live in Oxfordshire, so this was a rare chance to be cheered on by my Dad, sister Elizabeth and my step mother Susannah. My brother Will was away working in the States. He’s coming to see me run in Berlin though, so I guess I’ll let him off. The marathon course was different. I’ve never run so many laps (6 in total). But there was plenty to stop me getting bored. It was a very interesting course with different surfaces and phases.
I was very proud to be waved off by my Dad. He’s the man who inspired me to run, by running marathons himself during my childhood. He had never watched me run before, so it was very important to me to have him there. He saw how hard it was for me. I knew he was proud of my effort and i really enjoyed him being there. It was a wonderful opportunity for some father and son time. Since i started fundraising its been great to have the chance to be able to show my Dad (and my Mum too at the other marathons) what I’m made of. I have never felt so determined and focused. All the experiences I’ve have brought me to this point. I am the sum of all that’s happened to me and i think I’m able to face terminal cancer, because my parents gave me a lot of the tools. I’m thankful for my mum’s positivity and my father’s drive. I owe my parents credit for helping me to grow.
Running in heat is something I’ve never been a fan of, but I’ve chosen to run 6 marathons in 6 months. Many of those months fall over the summer, so I’ve had to get used to it. Even still, the unique combination of conditions in Northampton was like nothing I’ve never come across before. It was incredibly hot with temperatures reaching over 31 degrees. There was sadly very little shade. So I was a little anxious as we started running. The heat, even at 9am, was oppressive, but I got used to it. My favourite way of looking at is to compare myself to a lobster being boiled in a pot. I’ve heard that a lobster has to be cooked over a gently increasing heat. If it’s thrown into boiling water it’ll try and jump out. Thankfully I’m not a seafood delicacy, but if I was asked to run for a couple of hours in the hottest part of the day I couldn’t have done it. On the outskirts of Northampton the heat rose from 21 degrees at 9am, to more than 31 degrees at 1pm.
Happily though, unlike that lobster I didn’t expire in the heat. I took a battering though. My legs were leaden, I struggled with cramp and felt suffocated by the air. I drank countless litres of water, but still got hugely dehydrated. By the end I was exhausted and my body broken, but I loved every minute of it! It was hard, punishing work and a real test of my mental strength as much as my ability to endure physically. But I enjoy taking on physical challenges in extreme weather. Earlier in the year we completed the Yorkshire Three Peaks in driving wind and torrential rain. And yesterday I got the same perverse exhilaration from running in extreme heat.
It wouldn’t be right to revel in the achievement of finishing a marathon in those conditions without acknowledging the whole heap of people that supported me. It was a real team effort. Louise, my wife, brought me water. With each lap I needed more and more. By the third lap Louise was meeting me on the course. She did that for each of the next three laps. On the penultimate lap I ran out of water completely. When I saw louise in the distance she was like a vision. I can’t imagine an oasis in the most arid desert being as welcome a sight as her.
Chris her brother played his part too. Despite not being a runner, he ran a full lap with me, 4 miles. His affable nature and gentle chatter helped me ease nicely in to lap 4. I’d miss him on the next lap and I asked him to run the first mile of my final lap run a mile to allow me to take on more water.
My Dad was on hand with sponge to cool me down in the shade of the water station.
Louise combined her water carrying duties to work as podiatrist, fuel giver and bottle filler. I remember Louise’s other brother, Steven, spraying me with sun cream. It helped me no end, but no Brother-in-law should ever be expected to do. I’m sure there were others that helped in lots of other ways that I’ve forgotten. I had a great team there and I’m very lucky. They all kept me going and I couldn’t have done it without them.
I really loved running with Tim and Daron again. They abandoned their hopes of a good time at the Windermere Marathon to make sure I got round. Sadly, Tim Exley bowed out at 22 miles, due to a knee injury. Congratulations to his son James who finished his first marathon in a smidgen under 5hrs30.
For such a small race (there were around 75 participants) it was very well organised. The couple that put it together, Dave and Linda Major, clearly know what’s important to a runner and I guess they should. They hold the Guinness World Record for most marathons by a married couple at over 900. Amazing! It really was a great race. I don’t think I’ll ever run a marathon quite like it again. It was certainly an experience and I’m really glad I took part!
Tomorrow, I’m running the 5th marathon of my 6. I’m sad that I’ve already reached the penultimate one. I’ve really enjoyed running these races and these first 4/5 seem to have flown by. I may have struggled a lot, but I’ve enjoyed every second. I can’t wait to get going tomorrow. For the first time ever I am not apprehensive about running 26.2 miles. My last marathon was 14 days ago, but I’ve never felt so strong. I’ve trained hard on the street and in the gym and I really can’t wait to get going. I say this every time, but I really won’t be able to wipe the smile off my face when I line up at the start. And being fitter certainly makes a difference. I’ll enjoy the race more if I don’t struggle, but having said that I’ve learned a lot about my self from having to tough out these marathons. So tomorrow I’m very hopeful of a decent time, which by my standards means anything under 6 hours.
The island is stunning. I was quite unprepared for the beauty of the hills and the incredible views. My first night has been occupied by blogging and social media, but once I’ve got the marathon out of the way tomorrow I plan to throw myself into having a great time with my family and enjoying all this wonderful place has to offer.