Char­lie Wat­son on run­ning marathons

Trail Running (UK) - - Contents - Pho­tos @therun­ner­beans

‘Not since my very first marathon had I ques­tioned whether I’d fin­ish’

This Septem­ber, I’m get­ting mar­ried to a non-run­ner. A non-run­ner who loves me enough that he’s run not one but two marathons. I used to joke that the per­fect pro­posal for me would be mid or post­marathon, in­cor­po­rat­ing what I love with some­one I love. Well, that didn’t hap­pen, but this year, my long-suf­fer­ing fi­ance, Tom, let me run the Lon­don Marathon along­side him.

I promised to pace him to a PB, a sub 4.30 marathon, which with a best time of 3.49, shouldn’t have been too much of a prob­lem for me… Ex­cept for the fact that I’d al­ready run the Bos­ton Marathon that week, and raced it go­ing for my own PB.

Sadly, things didn’t go to plan on the 26.2 miles from Hop­kin­ton to Bos­ton, with the hills and the heat… did I men­tion the hills? I fin­ished about 15min slower than I was hop­ing, along with two huge blis­ters (not to men­tion some GI prob­lems) that I was hop­ing to avoid.

With only six days be­tween races, my win­dow of re­cov­ery was short. The day fol­low­ing the marathon, after a fair amount of cof­fee and ba­con, I headed to Chi­na­town for a restora­tive mas­sage. Sadly, there were some se­ri­ous ‘lost in trans­la­tion’ mo­ments, and I’m not sure my masseur un­der­stood what ‘I ran a marathon yes­ter­day’ meant as she stood on my back, walked up and down my ham­strings and pum­melled my feet. De­spite be­ing an ex­cru­ci­at­ing 90 min­utes, how­ever, the mas­sage worked won­ders for my re­cov­ery and I was walk­ing rather than wad­dling the next day. A sec­ond mas­sage back in the UK, plenty of Ep­som salt baths, and more food than I’ve ever con­sumed be­fore, and I was set to run marathon num­ber two.

Toe­ing the start line at the Lon­don Marathon, I hon­estly didn’t know what was go­ing to hap­pen. Not since my very first marathon have I ques­tioned whether I’d ac­tu­ally make it to the fin­ish line. But hav­ing gri­maced through miles 16 to 25 in Bos­ton, I was de­ter­mined to en­joy Lon­don; to take in the crowds of my home city, the friendly faces, and the shouts of ‘Run­ner Beans’ from fel­low par­tic­i­pants. I wanted to run along­side Tom to en­sure that he ran on pace and didn’t set off too fast but, more than that, I felt like I needed a re­cov­ery race for my­self. I had strug­gled through the Bos­ton Marathon and still missed my goal time, so I wanted, or rather needed, Lon­don to be a re­minder of why I love to run, why I con­tin­u­ally train for marathons even though I’m not ‘fast’, and why I am not giv­ing up on my sub 3.35 time goal.

Sur­pris­ingly, aside from a mi­nor ar­gu­ment over Tom’s third loo stop of the race, I loved ev­ery sec­ond. I felt like I could push the pace, and had to hold my­self back on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions. The fin­ish line and the Mall came too soon – I wasn’t ready for it to be over. It made those 5am alarms, the tread­mill miles and the pitch-black head torch­led runs all worth it, and rekin­dled my pas­sion for run­ning.

And, so, with fond mem­o­ries of my Lon­don Marathon and the prom­ise of sum­mer train­ing, I’m think­ing about head­ing off to the moun­tains out­side Seat­tle to tackle my first trail marathon… sure, I have a time in mind, but the main pri­or­ity will be to en­joy the miles. Also, I’ve heard the post-race food is great in those parts. And when I say food, you know I mean beer, right?

Of course, train­ing for all these marathons isn’t hurt­ing my #Run1000Miles chal­lenge ei­ther… How are you get­ting on with yours? Fol­low my progress at www.therun­ner­ or @therun­ner­beans on In­sta­gram.

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