Charlie Watson on running marathons
‘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.therunnerbeans.com or @therunnerbeans on Instagram.