I am sure most athletes will be able to relate to the title of this post. Dealing with the ups and downs of sport is a huge part of it and the emotional impact competing has, in my opinion, is even more significant than the physical.
I have left writing this post for a couple of days as (I would be lying if I said it didn’t) it really knocked me a bit. Those following my blog will know that from early on last year the London Marathon has been my rock, the thing that has been there through everything else going on, over various parts of the planet. I thought about it every single day and honestly put my heart and soul into training for it. On the day itself, things did not go to plan. In fact, there were pretty darn horrid.
I felt odd from the get go and I got a strange pinching in my lower back. I knew right away that it was going to be a long day. I worked hard to attempt to trick my mind, to tell myself that this is what I do, this is what I love and this is what I want, badly. I thought of a saying I often think of; “the body can stand almost anything, it is the mind you must convince.” I tried to trick my mind into feeling like my normal self where running feels beautiful and natural. It didn’t work. On this day I couldn’t convince my mind that it was stronger than my body. It didn’t want to go and it wouldn’t go. I walked a lot of the race and I jogged a lot too. There was no way that I was not completing the race. My ego wanted me to pull out but I swallowed my pride. I came to a realization at about 15km in that my marathon sized challenge on the day had nothing to do with the time I was aiming for but instead was to accept the fact that it wasn’t going to plan, at all! I knew that this must be accepted and that I needed to remain grateful for the overall experience and many ways the journey had contributed to my life. My body couldn’t run fast at a pace I KNOW it is capable of but it could complete it gracefully, alongside others who, on the day, were no better nor worse athletes than myself.
Once I got my head around my new challenge I tried my best to appreciate how truly remarkable every aspect of the event was. Being supported by a crowd lasting 26.2 miles is amazing and very refreshing. Every time my crippled jog slowed to a walk I was cheered on by runners saying “you can, you can”. These are the kind of values I stand for and the actions that wouldn’t dare see me stop. The course shows off the absolute best of London and reminded me why I initially moved to this part of the world, over a year ago.
I ran up The Mall towards the finish line and felt overwhelmed with emotion. Not the emotion that I had visualized on so many occasions but the emotion of accepting that I hadn’t achieved my anticipated goal but a whole new one instead. I knew it was going to be a tough afternoon, day following and probably week or two proceeding the race but I knew I had to feel joy in taking part on one of the greatest races in the world, something a lot of people would only dream of. My body didn’t perform on the day but this did not define me as a person, athlete or marathon runner. I am now no longer a complete novice to marathon running. The best part is there really is only one way up.
I can’t wait to run my next one. My father reminded me the following day of a quote I stuck to my bedroom wall as a child; “champions have good days and days when they learn something”. The experience helped me learn a lot more than just something. Thanks so much to everyone who has followed and supported me. I thought of you on every single mile. Watch this space…..