The Beast

She doesn’t care about you. Numerous hours out in the rain and cold. Early mornings. In the dark. On the weekends. You missed that drink down the pub. You were warm, cosy and tired but you went out. All those hard miles. All that sacrifice.

I was so naive. I thought I understood. It will hit you they say. Maybe at 20 miles. Or perhaps 22. I am expecting it though. The wall doesn’t scare me. It’s just a term for not preparing properly or more accurately running faster than you are able for the amount of fuel you can store and consume. I was ready.

Weeks of excitement, turn to days of anxiety, into hours of nerves, and finally minutes of adrenalin. I stood at that start line staring. Not into the distance like I had envisioned but into the back of a stranger’s head. He has the same courage and passion as me. Here he is, putting his body and mind on the line. We have got this.

Frankfurt Marathon 2019: Running a hard fought 2:29 marathon the same time I ran in London Marathon 2016.

The beast was waiting though. All 26.2 miles of her. Stretching through the streets. Out of the city. Into the suburbs. Barriers, Cones, banners, clapping, cheering, sponges, water, tea, sweets, even lemons. Drinks drowning in sugar. Drinks floating in salt. She was lined with anticipation and expectation. She was buzzing. Pockets of crowds would make sure that you could not only feel but hear her.

It’s not that she was angry, but she is cruel. Not scary but dangerous. She promises so much. A day that can change your life. An instant to be proud. To prove to yourself and those who believed in you; or maybe they didn’t; what you are capable of. Perhaps you can even run faster than you ever have. A time goal that means so much to you, and very little to anyone that isn’t you. She doesn’t care about that though. She never has. She is unrelenting. She will take and take. Grind you down. Tease you at first, but then rip out your courage, your belief, everything that made you so sure today was the day.

I had all the answers. But she asked different questions. That’s the thing with over 42,000 metres; you never know what to expect. The wall is a myth; so here’s some stomach pain. I’ve sorted my stomach; well your calf has seized up. My calf feels good; what about the cramping in your hamstring? My body is strong; how’s your head? Can you keep going when the wind hits you in the face. The promise of running in a pack fades into a lonely battle with the elements. Your pace is slipping. You try all of the mantras you echoed over and over in training. She doesn’t care if you think you’re tough. She is tougher. She is a beast.

I have faced the beast many times now. She has thrown all sorts my way. I have battled hard and achieved things I would never have dreamed of. I have made lifelong memories. I have new friends. Seen new places. Grown stronger as a person. But I have never beaten the beast. She has never surrendered. She never will.

This time I will meet her head on. I will be more prepared. More experienced. More resilient. She doesn’t care about me, but I care about her. She keeps me guessing. The challenge and mystique draw me in. I won’t be teased this time though. No false sense of security. Those first few easy miles won’t lure me in. When she least expects it, I will show more strength, grit, character and determination than she has ever seen me display. She will try to build her infamous wall somewhere in my body or perhaps my mind; but I don’t have to break walls to beat her. I have to build bridges. I have to connect where I am now to where I need to be. I will get to 20 miles and then I will show her. I’ve been there before but this time will be different. I will kick for home and run with belief. I’ll run with my heart. Those last 6 miles are mine. The beast doesn’t care about me. She will take everything. In London Marathon 2020; I will give it to her.

To follow my marathon training for the London Marathon 2020 you can watch weekly vlog updates released every Monday on YouTube:

My 2016 London Marathon race blog can be found here

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