1 down… 2 to go!

As I sit here writing this I’m now officially ‘a marathon runner’. Its hard to believe really considering on May 3rd of this year I lined up for my first ever half marathon having also thought that was unachievable. But I’ve managed it and got 1 out of the way. I would have posted this yesterday but to be honest I felt like I had been hit by a train.. and that’s no understatement. Anyways.. to give you a recap and perhaps make you laugh at my misfortune here’s the story.

As I’ve mentioned in my previous blog postings I had a wedding to attend the day I was travelling up to Hull for the first marathon. The wedding was at 2.30 so the plan was to take all our stuff with us and head straight up to Hull afterwards. The mrs applied her fake tan, the little one had a new dress and I got suited and booted.. On schedule we set off to the wedding about 1.15pm for the 45 minute journey.. plenty of time. No problems.. Now my best friend is a mate from our university days.. not many of us have stayed in touch and no one else I knew that well was attending.. So after 45 mins or so we hear the familiar “you have arrived” from the sat nav.. hang on.. where the hell are we? After double checking the post code I had been given a few times and finding it was correct we began searching for the church on google.. entered the post code on the sat nav.. and away we went.. 10 mins before we were due to be there.. not good by this point.. “you have arrived” we heard again.. We definitely hadn’t as we stayed at nothing but open road..

Fast forward an hour, stress, a few arguments (to put it lightly) and we were heading for Hull.. all dressed up but definitely with somewhere to go.. just not a wedding! Once we got to Hull.. by this point my mate was a married man and had his phone handy to take my call.. his iPhone autocorrected his postcode and switched the last two letters.. nightmare. Either that or he didn’t want us there.. I haven’t figured out which yet! So there we were in Hull and so were my mum, step dad, brother and his girlfriend. Along with my mother and father in law who were on their way. It was great to feel I had such great support and something which definitely helped me through.

So there I was the morning of the race.. walking to the start line with my wife, daughter and my brother.. when suddenly dawned on me I’d left my race number in my hotel room! No panic.. my brother ran back and grabbed it.. Phew. So after some stretching (not enough I may add on reflection) and purchasing a bottle of water (stupidly I didn’t buy any water the night before and had to keep filling up the tiny hotel room glasses!) I was off.. safe in the knowledge that Id see everyone anytime after 1pm. The race started at 9 and I was aiming for around a 4hour time.. Probably more 4.15 / 4.30..which I’d have been happy with.

The race was very difficult.. like nothing I’ve experienced in training. I didn’t take any energy gels as I normally do. I had ran out of the brand I use and didn’t want to risk feeling sick during the event. A safe option I thought but definitely something that affected me.. I found myself after about 10 miles really struggling. My legs were incredibly heavy and I felt like I was literally dragging myself to each water station.

I must say though the support from the public and anyone watching was fantastic.. the race numbers had our names on so it was really great personal vocal support and it did help massively. So did all the Jaffa cakes and jelly babies on offer! But besides that it was tough. IMG_5914-0Not being able to listen to music played a massive part in the struggle and it will be the same again this weekend with the same rule. However with all my family there with encouragement at mile 18 I persevered and got round the course.. and a nice chat with a Scottish guy who I ran with whilst crossing the Humber bridge. He did however leave me when I stopped to stretch! The most important thing is I did it though.. and all for a great cause.. however I’m only 1/3 of the way there. I do have this nice medal in my collection now though..

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A family meal followed along with the nice drive home which my wife masteredIMG_5892 as I sat in the passenger seat trying to keep my legs active. My daughter kept her self occupied in the back with her iPhone as all 13 year olds do.. and a nap too.. I jumped on the exercise bike as soon as I got in the door to try and keep the blood flowing. This was followed up yesterday with a Kneipp Arnica Muscle Bath and some ice packs which have helped take the edge off and some intense stretching but I’m still only about 60% at the moment.. which probably isn’t too surprising all things considered. With only 4 full days to go until the next marathon the pressure really is on to get myself back to a good physical condition. Any tips anyone? My plan was more ice packs, more stretching, more carbs and 30 min on the exercise bike tomorrow and Thursday and then just a short walk to take in the scenery bath has to offer on Sunday. Luckily this weekend we have rented an apartment and are heading down Friday night.. so no stress the day before! If I can get my body back right then I’m confident I can do better this weekend as I wasn’t particularly out of breath by mile 26 I just couldn’t move too good! With my other brother and my aunt and uncle heading down to support there’s again good reason to do a good job and I’m sure I will..

Ben Edwards, Marathon runner.. who ever would have thought….

Bath Two Tunnels Marathon.. I’m on my way.

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I may not be there yet..but I’m closer than I was yesterday.

I’ve written and re-written this opening paragraph twice.. With just 6 days to go until the Hull Marathon I feel like there should be so many things I want to say.. To talk about how far I’ve come and how much I’ve learnt along the way.. the only problem being I just don’t know what it is I want to say.. which is a bit of a problem for a blog post right?

Today I completed my final long distance training run. 10 miles in the sunshine through town and along the canal.. (nope.. still no bottle of water from the old fellas on their canal boats)..The next step is event time. 26.2 miles to not just talk about how far I’ve come but to prove it. To show everyone that all that training was worth it. That all those miles were for a reason. I have no doubt that I can complete my first ever marathon.. that’s not the hard part.. the hard part is doing it in a way I can be proud of. To truly feel that I accomplished something. Lets be honest.. I could walk the whole thing, come home and write on here about how I smashed it couldn’t I.. but what kind of sense of achievement would that give me? Not a single bit I’m sure.

With 3 marathons in 14 days shortly commencing am I ready? Like I just mentioned, the hard training miles are out of the way and all that’s left is to rest up, stay loose and get ready to tear it up. But am I ready? Am I focussed? .. I know I’m ready to make everyone proud and finish in a time I’ll be happy with but if I’m being honest.. no I’m not. I feel like I’m in a really weird place where the thought of not having something to aim for or something to train for is almost upon me.. Its mad considering I have a marathon every Sunday for the next 3 weeks and yet I’m already worrying about September 28th. I’ll be sat at home, 3 marathon medals in my hands, ice packs on my legs and a smile on my face. But what will I be thinking about? Over the past 4 months my main thoughts have been, how far am I running tomorrow and will I be able to manage it. That’s the part which worries me.. No doubt I will want to find something to do next but I should also chill out and relax.. That worries me because I’m not very good at it.

I’ve put my family through a lot whilst I’ve trained for all this.. and selfishly put it before the majority of things recently. So it does only seem fair that I should devote some time to the things that truly matter.. but I don’t really know how. It’s been like this for as long as I can remember. I don’t feel like I offer any significance to the world unless I have a reason to get up in the morning and achieve something. Yeah being a good husband and a good father are great reasons in themselves but if I’m being honest, they’re also things I’m not too good at. I think this is why I started these challenges in the first place. So that people would admire me and so that I didn’t really have to talk to anyone about anything other than “Yeah the running’s going well, yeah I did 10 miles yesterday”. I think this has worked out quite well for me so far.. however as I mentioned, what about on 28th September?

When it’s all said and done and the marathon medals are put away and the trainers get some rest what do I do? As I’ve said in previous posts, I’m not built to be running 40/50/60 miles or achieving anything on this level. Yeah I can run.. but I’m not insane. That could be up for debate actually but I don’t think I could put up with just my own mind for company for anything longer than a 4/5 hour period. There’s no playlist in the world that could get me through that.

I guess I’d like to know what you did after you achieved that 26.2 mile target.. what challenge did you set yourself next? I really do want to just relax and enjoy everything that’s happened this year but I know I won’t be able to. I know that I’ll need something else.. and I just don’t know how or what that is. Running for me has been my strongest (and preferred) method of communication. Its meant that I have been able to communicate with friends and family (and anyone else reading this) simply by posting on various social media platforms about how I’m getting on. It’s given me that sense of ‘fitting in’ that I have never felt that I had/have.. and its meant a lot. To have raised a great deal of money at the same time and to have made such great improvements physically has helped me to feel good about myself.. For those that know me.. yeah I can be that jack the lad, cheeky chap who is quick off the mark with a decent joke or a witty comeback but its meaningless to me. It gets a laugh and its done with.

The real meaning comes from the everyday struggles and how you chose to tackle them. On reflection.. after 4 months I’ve come to realise I’ve been running (excuse the pun) away from a lot of my struggles.. but I feel much more equipped to face them moving forward. I guess I’ll find out on the 28th September.

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I’d like to take a minute to congratulate my good friend Martin Chandler who successfully completed a 54 mile cycle from London to Brighton today all for the charity ‘Sands’. A top bloke who has been through a lot this year with his wife and it makes me happy to know that the money I’ve also raised for ‘Sands’ for their cause will help other amazing people like the two of them. Hope Nikki has enjoyed applying the sudocream for you this evening!

To read about why Martin (or myself) started these challenges visit either of our just giving pages:

http://www.justgiving.com/Benjamin-Edwards1

https://www.justgiving.com/Martin-Elliot2015