First mile I was happy. I was jokey even. I was thanking the marshals and people applauding. Mile two the same. The hill starts in the third mile and it gets a bit harder. Still, things were going well. The hill goes on for a couple a miles. Maybe as many as three so I was a bit more serious here. Here I only smiled at people. Over the top of the hill the pace increased and I was a bit, hmmmm, you know? I was thinking, this feels a bit fast. I was thinking ahead. It’s okay going fast now but in fifteen miles time I wasn’t going to be feeling quite so groovy. So I eased back a bit. I was still thanking people but I was a bit concerned now. I wasn’t smiling.
There’s no such fucking thing as just slowing down a bit. Perhaps really good guys can do that but I can’t. I know if I have to slow down it’s because I’m fucked. I know that from experience but yet I told myself it was fine, I was pacing myself. And then, of course, I was really slowing down. And that was odd because this was only nine miles in. I can run nine miles no problem. I took a bottle of Powerade from a drink station. My throat was completely dry. I wasn’t thirsty but I’ve had a sore throat for two weeks. That’s not an excuse because I’ve been running fine with a sore throat. The excuse is to come. I was holding the bottle and I was thinking, this isn’t happening. And so on a quiet lane I started to walk. Seventeen miles to go. This is a right pickle you’ve got yourself into, here, Jamie, you dick, I mused.
My leg was sore but then I was running a marathon, there’d be something wrong if my leg wasn’t sore. It wasn’t that sore. I wasn’t limping. There were many more people behind me than in front of me. That was one thing, I thought, as they began passing me. Still 95% of them were still behind me. I’d just start running again, in a bit, I told myself.
I walked past a marshal who said that I was doing really well. She must not have been a running expert but I thanked her for her support. And so as to not listen to that again I started running. First few steps were painful but that eased and I was running again. I’d just catch the group who passed, I thought. That didn’t happen. Of course it didn’t. Who was I kidding?
I grunted at stupid people waving at somebody running shitly. They were saying things like, ‘well done.’ Oh right, yeah, I was thinking and then I was approaching the shop. There must have been thirty people ahead of me now. That wasn’t going to look good. I saw Enrique and Paula sitting on the wall. I expected them to do something or say something. Perhaps display the banner I’d caught them making but they sat there in silence, their heads tracking my slow progress down the road. I looked at them for a bit and then continued to stare at the road ahead. I was pretty much half way.
Further down the road the pain started to build in my leg and I was thinking, this isn’t right. People were passing me left, right and centre. No, not centre, that’s impossible. But I was coming up to St Peter’s Village. There’s a Co-op there and people. I wanted to walk. I was limping now. My leg was killing me.
Is my leg killing me, though? I thought, you know? I was limping and it was hurting but was it really hurting that much? I couldn’t tell. I wondered if I was putting the limp on. It was by no means the worst pain I’ve ever felt. It just felt sore. Should be able to run through that. Off the main road and out of sight of spectators I had to walk again. I walked around the corner and there’s a big group of gawpers clapping like monkeys. I turned around, there was nobody coming but me. “Don’t clap, eh?” I said. “I’ll have to speed up!” They laughed at that. What seemed like five minutes later they were still clapping and I still hadn’t got to them. “You’re doing great!” One said when I finally got to them. How exactly am I doing great? I’m only one stage up from standing still, from sitting on the wall with you, I thought. I was thinking about my leg. It was sore but not crippling. I got going again. I didn’t run far this time. Maybe a mile before thinking, fuck this.
I was at the airport. Right on the main road. I walked and people shouted from cars. Luckily I was wearing my cap so people couldn’t see my eyes. I was head down. I started running again at some point. Seemed to be when running the pain built in the top of my right leg. It just built to a point where it was very uncomfortable but not crippling. I was confused. I’d walk and it’d still be sore but then I’d run and it’d be really fucking sore for a bit but then that lessened and I could run for a couple of miles before the pain built again. I was not happy.
I wasn’t too far from my house. I was going to just go home but I had my timing chip I had to return. Had to get my bag. Had to get my car. I also feared my wife would have taken the kids out to watch the race.
The kid was quite impressed with my 10th place finish last year. Although I was actually eleventh. I was 10th male though, a woman beat me, but she doesn’t count. I feared my wife had taken the kids out to watch. They’d be in one of two places. At the nineteen mile point or the twenty-two mile point. I definitely had to finish.
Fuck! What a load of shit.
What if they were standing there? I walked and ran and walked and ran. They weren’t at the nineteen miles point. They weren’t at the twenty-two mile point. They were at home.
I mean, people were passing me and really hobbling but still running. They looked in a lot more pain than I was. My pain was a five or a six. They had eight or nine. It was fucked up. I watched the people hobble past.
There was four miles left along the front, it was into a headwind. I walked for a bit and then ran. My leg didn’t hurt much during that last bit and I passed a lot of the people who were clearly crippled and in terrible pain. A lot of them I’d passed numerous times already. They must have thought I was a twat. I didn’t shout encouragement at them because I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to hear it. Then I was at the finish. I kind of wished I’d collapse over the line and be rushed to hospital but no, I was fine. I was in much less pain at the finish than last year.