At long last, the race write-up for the London Marathon. It seems I had a lot to say about this race. I’ll have to break it up into 3 different parts.
Joggling the London Marathon
As Fred Flintstone passed, the tinitus buzzed in my ear. It was like he hit me with a club but I knew better. This was mile 22 of the marathon. The feelings were familiar. The ringing in my head, the reverberating pain with each leg landing, and the sensation of self displacement. You’re not in your brain anymore. You’re somewhere above your head, looking down, watching and wondering why the hell you are doing this.
If you’re lucky your homunculus won’t try to convince you to stop. He won’t tell you how much better you’ll feel if you just start walking. He won’t remind you how slow you’re running or how you’re never going to qualify for Boston. If you’re lucky he just remains perplexed. In this race, I wasn’t lucky.
A phone rings.
“This is your wake-up call” chimes a British accent.
It wasn’t really needed as I’d been up for at least half an hour fretting over the impending race. I wondered whether I would PR or BQ qualify or even finish. Will I forget something? Did I train enough? What if I forget my Gballz? What if I forget how to juggle? Each of my 24 marathons have started similarly. The familiarity of feeling is heartwarming.
I put on my marathon uniform consisting of Spandex shorts, ankle high nylon socks, Nikes, a timing chip, a tattered and slightly smelly red joggling shirt, an iPod with a single ear-fitting headphone, a Timex Ironman 30-lap watch and race bib #54536 which is affixed with 4 small steel safety pins.
The morning meal, a Dr. Pepper and a Snickers bar. I briefly ponder how big brand names are taking over the world. Not sure if that’s good or bad.
John Kelly and I grab the rest of our gear and head out to catch the marathon shuttle bus. In my bag, I’ve packed the joggling marathon essentials:
Gballz shirt – for after the marathon
Minnesota Marathon long sleeve shirt – in case it’s too cold for the short sleeve shirt
Woosh woosh pants – in case it’s cold
Change of socks – again for the finish
Running jacket – for the start and finish
Running gloves – maybe I’ll run in these
The temperature was a cool 44F. I was glad I wore extra clothes.
The bus ride was nice compared to the one you have to take for the New York marathon. You don’t have to wait in a big long line and the scenery is more interesting. In London there are dozens of little shops smooshed together. Mostly ones I’d never seen but every so often a KFC or a McDonalds reminds you that corporations are the new imperialists taking over every city they find. At least there weren’t any Walmarts.
As we made our way to the start, I wasn’t certain how well I’d do in this marathon. I could set a new record or struggle to break 4 hours. My training felt terrible. I don’t really know why. Perhaps tiredness from the 444 day joggling streak that included 2 marathons and a 50 miler. Or maybe I’m getting old. (over 14,250 days lived). All I know is that if I want to qualify for Boston, I’m going to have to do things a bit different. Previous training programs haven’t worked.
The start area was incredible. They staged runners in three areas around a huge open grass field. Why there is this field remains a mystery but it comes in handy for marathon day. On a giant big screen TV they showed runners from all 3 start areas plus a history of the London marathon (this being the 100th running). There were sections for coffee & tea, water, the UK version of Gatorade, and lots and lots of places to go to the bathroom. Gear check was a line of big white trucks organized by bib number. Six hot air balloons stood by the start line. They looked like giant gumdrops.
We got there about 90 minutes before start time. This was nice as it gave us lots of time to get settled. Check gear, go to bathroom, get hydrated. It also gave me time to juggle. The other runners bathing in the warm sun we’re amused. “Are you going to do that in the marathon?” asked one gray-bearded runner with bad teeth. (Sometimes stereotypes are true.) “That’s my plan.” “That’s great mate. Good luck to ya.” People like to say ‘mate’ around here. Maybe I will.
After stripping down to the core running outfits & checking gear, JK and I went to our respective corrals. I was in #2. He was in #3. There was a chilly wind that sprayed us about once a minute. We runners all huddled next to each other like those giant Antarctic penguins. I couldn’t wait to start.
After 15 minutes, the gun went off and my 24th marathon began.
Continued in Part 2 and Part 3