“Why are you crying?” He asks.
It’s 8:13am on a Sunday morning.
“It’s London Marathon Day honey,” you reply rather hastily.
“But you don’t even like the London Marathon, you always complain about it.”
“That’s not the point.”
He’s right, London has never been your favourite race. In fact, you’ve moaned about it in the past. The course is boring, it’s too crowded and the supporters are sometimes a little too overwhelming for someone who uses running to find their headspace. Nevertheless, this was when you could run London and managed to consistently get a ‘Good For Age’ place. It’s very easy to take it for granted especially when you’re as fit as a fiddle. But when you can’t lace up your training shoes to join the 38,000 or so other runners at the starting line, you have an overwhelming sensation of loss and feeling lost.
As Simon Freeman so eloquently put in his piece around Past glories and new addictions, once upon a time you (rightly or wrongly) based everything in your diary around races. And now one of the most popular challenges in the racing calendar is happening and everywhere you look there are constant reminders that you’re not able to take part.
Of course, you could do the right thing – support all the runners who have put themselves through months of training to be ready on the start line. Find yourself a place to stand along the course and cheer the runners on, spot your running friends in the crowd and celebrate with a pint or two afterwards. But you don’t. Instead you try and surreptitiously avoid it, allowing yourself only a few seconds to glance at those social media channels that have cultivated the supportive and friendly running communities you’ve come to know.
For unlike the other years when you’ve supported others at London, this time you have no races booked in the foreseeable future. You don’t even have a fixed date as to when you can even start running again. And you fear, as Simon Freeman pointed out, that you will never be the same runner again. Watching a race you know mentally you can do but physically can’t could well be the straw that broke the camel’s back?
Let’s just say it’s an emotional journey and you prefer to distance yourself slightly to get some perspective. And while today has been one for reflection and commiseration, it has also been motivational. So many of your friends have run today for different reasons. Some for friends who sadly passed last year, others for PBs or simply as Mallory of Everest said: “Because it’s there.”
London didn’t happen but running to the beach and back with the mountains in sight on your wedding day in September (before you get ready) could well be a reality…and then who knows.
Thank you London and all those who took part.