GUCR - 3 Days to go - Phantoms

The phantom pains are still shooting through my legs. I hope they are phantoms anyway. My knees ache and the sides of my legs hurt too. Im pretty sure it's nothing. It does take me back a bit though.

One reason I decided to do this race was to regain the feeling of terror that I had when I did my first marathon. A feeling that I have yet to feel again. I think I'm feeling it now. It's affecting my sleep, its all I think of at work, I've pretty much failed a diploma assignment because I can't concentrate for more that 10 seconds on anything other than running. I'm not too worried. I need to get out of marketing anyway (more on that to come). It does bring me back nicely to the last time I felt this way and that was before the London Marathon in 2000.

I applied as a joke to amuse my friends, a theme that still goes on now. I saw it in a "cool things to do one day" section of a magazine and thought I'd apply cos there is no way they are going to let me in. They did.

I pinned the acceptance letter on my bedroom door and let the other 8 housemates read for themselves what I was in for. They laughed, obviously. Thinking it was a slightly less risky thing to do than a usual night out that involved stairs.

I didn't do much training. One 13 mile run which nearly killed me. Not least because I did three laps of my local area in Manchester and 3 times I passed a shop called "Uptown Girl". That got me singing.

I guess I was more nervous because I knew absolutely no one else who was doing this or had ever done a marathon before. I was really looking forward to being the only one ever to run "The Marathon". I probably was hanging around the wrong people. So I got a train down the the capital, stayed in some room in a hotel and had no idea really what to expect. I didn't know London at all, but luckily there were loads of other people around in the morning so I just followed them. I do recall being crammed into a train at charing cross station. This is just a one off isn't it? No.

When I get properly nervous (as I was) it manifests itself in a strange way. My nose bleeds. It's happened in exams, it's happened a school, it's happened in, erm, situations that I won't go into on a family blog such as this one. So there I was at the start line in pen 8 (way back) and it started bleeding. I had no tissue and the race was about to start. I had no option but snorting.

It took about 15 minutes to cross the startline (this was before chip timing too so it was a bloodbath at the start, even without the nose). After that I saw saw toilets at about the half mile stage. I ducked in and spent a few minutes trying to stop my nose bleed, shoving tissue up it. It got a bit better but was no fixed and I was worried about being last in the race at this stage - with good reason. I was.

I emerged from the toilets to find no one around me running. I was officially last in the London Marathon. I started to run and had to overtake the 2 sweeper vans that were clearing up all the rubbish behind the runners. I then overtook the first runner who was running inside a large table with a hole cut out in the middle for him.

Looking on the bright side at least I was overtaking more people that were overtaking me. It was really crowded but I didn't mind as I wasn't running very fast. There were so many things that were new to me that I'd like to have known before the race. Like the state of the toilets. At 15 miles I needed one and it was not a pleasant experience. Also there were people at the side giving out vasaline. Till then the only time I heard of vasaline used in sport was to rub on legs to keep them warm. What did I need it for? My legs weren't cold? Only later would it dawn on me why.

I made note of the sponsors and what they supplied for the race as I felt very let down my one. There was lucozade and vittel supplying the drinks, TNT doing logistics, Addidas making the shirts, The Times publishing the times. Another sponsor were Immodium. What where they supplying? I needed some of that and there was nothing around.

I had to walk for much of it after about 20 miles. It really hurt. I hobbled home in 4.35 - way off what I wanted to get but probably no worse than I deserved given my training and approach. I was quite pleased, and of course I was the first person of anyone I knew to run "The Marathon".

I do giggle sometimes at how terrified I was before the start of that race, to the extent that it had physical effects. I hope I don't have a nose bleed this weekend, or need to use a toilet after half a mile, or have to walk after 20. I can deal with all these things much better now. My biggest regret from running the FLM in 2000 is that I didn't do it again till 2003. I applied each year but joined the ballot bingo like everyone else. I was lucky to get in the first time and I didn't even realise. I've discovered since then that there are so many other races out there that there is no excuse to stop running if you don't get into "The Marathon". So much stuff here and overseas.

I can blame naivety for so many of the mistakes that I made in London 8 years ago. I wonder how many I can blame on this come the weekend?

At least I know what to do with vasaline.