The Marathon

This is going to be a race review and a rant... I should apologise for the rant, but it happens almost every run I go on, and I'm grumpy about it...

The Rock and Roll Marathon was hot; 20 degrees of heat, 26.2 miles with the added fun of the humidity of a couple of parks.

The first half was a dream, I deliberately (because of the heat), ran well within myself, sticking to the 5:15 pacer like glue up out of town, around Goodison and Anfield and up the terror of St Domingo's.  Coming down back into town I had to allow my legs to run themselves, to run slower than felt comfortable would've have been harder and more likely to get me tripping over myself than the risks of being over exuberant. However, one eye was on the Garmin and I was still clocking 30s a KM slower than normal on the downhill, the flat was fine and took in the front, a couple of awesome bands and the Chinese Arch (complete with Chinese drumming group) and the second really nasty climb up Upper Parliament Street was fine - apparently I was sweating rather a lot, but that's to be expected.

Princes Road, and I was chugging along, still slower than training pace, but still well ahead of PB territory, a quick shimmy into Princes Park, and the humidity started to have an effect, I slowed a little more... Still on target, but beginning to feel it.

Through Princes Park, and the unpleasant little hill of Ullet Road, and the wheels started coming off...  Instead of slowing a bit, I walked a bit... and then Sefton Park happened... I tried structuring the walking into 200m blocks, followed by 800m run... which lasted all of four miles... because at mile 20, on Penny Lane, I was reduced to walking.

Six miles of walking... with a sprint finish...

As ever the Rock and Roll organisers and volunteers deserve medals for their efforts.  Every water station was well stocked, every fuel station well stocked - but even with taking on 4l of fluid I stopped sweating, and I know at that point to slow and take it steady.

Which moves me on to my rant... I said, and texted, and post on social media the same simple message - Well I can train well, I can hydrate as much as I can but I can't beat the heat - 5:49:43... And I hurt!

Those runners out there commiserated with me, those who know me best told me not to beat myself up, because no one can beat the weather.  All congratulated me on finishing what is beyond most runners, and most wished me well on my next adventure... Which if they didn't know I had one planned, they had assumed there would be.

So, why am I grumpy... Because about 10 people, have asked variants of "you alright?", "was it too hard for you?" or in one really irritating case "Should you tell your cardiologist you had a bad run?".

Now I know these are all, I hope, coming from a place of caring about me... But this is a marathon... I've done more than a few of them, I am as I often say tongue in cheek, but now in deadly earnest - I am a recreational endurance athlete.  I'm one of those people who enjoys pushing his body beyond what most people would consider normal.  I'm jealous of friends who spent the weekend doing a 145 mile ultra marathon, because I know its beyond me.  Some will be shaking their head at that, and considering me mad - but its true.  A normal day for me has a minimum of 14,000 steps (as counted by my fitbit), that's roughly 10k of walking in a day.  My baseline, e.g. walking to work, pottering around the office and back is about 4k... so it's 5 miles extra walking a day.  My average for the year, so far, 19,300 (give or take a bit of rounding).

So, think of the questions from my perspective - I avoid being the inspirational disabled person in the inspiration porn context as much as possible, if people are inspired by me to get up and do something then great. But I have never done a race, a run, or any of my other activities with the first thought of "if I do this, then I'll be inspirational".  I do events because I want to, because they challenge me and give me some headroom with what I can eat.  And above all other things because they are fun, and I enjoy them!

So, what do the questions focused on my health relay to me - they bring back all of the crap I've had to deal with in my own head.  Am I alright to do this, I know I am - I've been tested every way that the best in science can do, and more, more than that I know my body.  I've not run because I've felt crap, had colds etc.  I've pulled out of challenges with injuries and often get asked advice by others on how to do things... or not do things.

So, am I alright? Yes - I ache, I've done a marathon, if I didn't I'd be more worried.  Was it too hard for me? No - I've done harder, further and hotter.  Should I tell my cardiologist I had a bad run - Yes, he will know I ran a marathon, and it was hot, and he will, probably, ask for a photo of him beside me wearing my medals...

So, think on this if its inspiration porn to eulogise on a disabled person doing normal stuff, what is it when you focus on the health of a disabled person doing, what they think of as, normal stuff?  I can't think of a term, but there should be one...

So, I ran a marathon.  It was hot.  I ache.  I'll run another one in a bit.




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