"I'm working on a dream/ Though it feels so far away/ I'm working on a dream/ I know it will be mine someday" Bruce Springsteen
I have focused upon and thought about this day for a very long time (well, since 2009 when I entered the world of marathon running & met all these wonderfully insane people). I have gotten so used to waking up at 3am, 4am, sometimes a little later at around 5am on a Saturday and again on the Sunday in order to get my stuff together, get breakfast, drink coffee, wake myself up and get out of the house to drive down the country or up the motorway in my little red Corsa. After driving for hours and sometimes hundreds of miles, I have gotten used to running a marathon or an ultra and then driving back down or up the country afterwards. It isn’t easy. In fact, one of the hardest things about this dream has been the endless driving and the early mornings. The travelling is one of the biggest hurdles. So many times I have wanted to crawl back underneath my covers and go to sleep, but I have been spurred on by the prospect of running 100 marathons, by the stories I have heard along the way and the inspiring people I have met on this journey.
When Sunday rolled around, the time had come – Chester marathon, 09/10/11 = my 100th marathon. There was something really nice about this one being so close to home. It was lovely to see so many lovely runners that I know throughout the day and I got to wear a pretty cool t-shirt which a friend had designed for me (see piccies)! It seems like I have been waiting for this day for so long because in reality, I had originally thought I would complete my 100th much earlier. However, sometimes little things in life conspire against you. In January I got flu and missed a fair few marathons and along the way, I missed the odd couple that I had planned to do. All of a sudden, things just seem to have fallen into place…so Chester it was!
The weather has been quite blustery and rainy around these parts over the last week or so and even though it remained really quite windy on Sunday, the rain stayed at bay.
It was so lovely to see so many runners; more often than not, I am alone or in the wilderness & don't get to see a lot of runners...so it was a novelty :) The support was also great, as we had our names printed on our race numbers & at one drinks station, marshalls were dressed in grass skirts whilst Hawaiian music played at a beach-bar themed drinks-stop - a really nice and cheery idea. Before I go off on a ramble, I should mention the route slightly - it took in some lovely parts of Chester. We ran underneath the famous clock, visited the Roman walls & meandered out into some lovely Welsh villages & back to the racecourse.
I had no specific time that I was aiming for, keeping in mind that I started running marathons in May 2009 & my race tally includes: 38 trail marathons, 23 road marathons (inclusive of Chester on Sunday) and 39 ultra’s which are made up of: 30-35ish milers, 45milers, 40milers, 50-55ish milers & an 85miler. I used to be a fairly fast(ish) runner & regularly got around the 4-hour mark without major struggle; but ultra’s & just lots of stuff in the last couple of years have really taken their toll a bit. I don’t really train as such anymore…and I really ought to and will again! So I was really pleased to set out at and maintain quite a steady pace on Sunday for the majority of the first half of the marathon. I did feel a bit disorientated by the wind & a little sickly at around the 15 mile mark and slowed. My inner left foot also rubbed pretty badly against the inside of my battered trainers. I knew I should have replaced them a while back, but lack of money certainly plays an issue when you’re running this amount of events. And so, my feet did start to pay the price a little, in the latter stages of the event (and on Monday, when I limped about in work, because of the nasty blister that had formed). However, I got around in just over 5hours, so I was pretty happy with that overall.
Approaching the finishing line was an amazing feeling. It was a lovely end to such a well organised event. We sloped downhill and ran past the river Dee and embarked upon the race course to a magnificent finish. Along the way I saw a man being attended to by race officials - he was lying flat on the floor with less than a mile to go and all I could think to myself was, ‘You can’t quit now’. I hope he made it and that someone literally dragged him to the finish.
Towards the end all the emotions welled up and I felt sad and happy. I feel a little sad that one epic goal/ journey has come to an end. And yet, I feel happy that I have achieved what I had set out to. I said I would do this and I have. I’m so happy about that. My whole mindset has changed along this journey. If you really stick with something, it can be done. It doesn’t matter if no-one else sees your vision at first. They soon will once you start to believe in it yourself. I think so many people were sceptical about this at the beginning/ couldn’t contemplate it. But goals like this don’t need contemplation or proper understanding. It’s just something that you have to do.
“Whatever you do in life will be insignificant, but it’s very important that you do it.”
I’m a very indecisive person and I can change my mind from one thing to the next, but over everything, what I do know is that I don’t want to live an ordinary or dull existence. It’s not that I seek fame or attention, but I want to experience fun and interesting things. I want to achieve things that money cannot buy. The thing with running is that anyone could buy an entry to a race, but the success is only derived upon completion and on-one can do that without effort and hard-work & I love that. Sometimes it can feel like you’ll never reach the finish line, but you do :)
I’m certain I can make some more sense of all this at a later date, but here’s just some contemplative ponderings I had about Chester marathon in the meantime…