Which is silly and self-induced.
Starting with hurty brain games. Little London Marathon gremlins who sabotage with negative self-talk. Over and over. Wittering on.
And then it gets easier as you realize you’re actually moving at a reasonable pace. You feel motivated. So you smile at the lovely supporters and high-five children with melted jelly-babies and snot stuck to their palms.You think to yourself how lucky you are to be able to do this. That your legs work and you are breathing and alive. Life is good. The London Marathon is just an extraordinary experience.
Then somebody elbows you in the tits, not once but twice and suddenly it’s a hateful bloody race with too many people invading your space and tarmac and smelly deep heat and body odours and no cows, sheep or mud. So you decide this is the last marathon you will ever run. And you start to feel better because you’ve made a sensible decision.
Now all that’s needed is to get to the end.
But you’re only at mile 5 and there’s another 21 to run. Have a gel. Distract yourself. Grab some water. Try not to choke as you run and attempt drinking at the same time. Or gag on the gel. Or Face-plant. Daren’t stop or will be trampled to death.
That’s better you think. More energy. Ooh look nearly 6 miles. And wow how does that man run with a bloody fridge on his back? Respect.
The sun comes out and the gentle heat cheers you up, someone shouts your name so you look into the crowd to see who it could be and become impailed upon a rhino’s large horn. You apologise because you love rhinos. But the rhino just bounds off into the crowd ahead.
You hear some wild drumming and a steel band is jamming under the flyover. The beat carries you and you decide that you like drums. It makes you want to dance.
Elvis gallops by in his white and gold lycra – the crowd goes bonkers, you’d think he was the real thing. Superman and a semi-naked leprachaun trot beside you in deep conversation. You try to eves-drop. And fail.
After what feels like forever, you’ve counted your steps, backwards, forwards, in French… Tower Bridge looms large like a film set. You grab your phone and take a picture. Except you only manage to get the back of someone’s sweaty head. So you try again. When home you realize all your photos are of white lines and feet and somebody’s handbag.
Crossing the bridge is awesome although you hope you won’t be grabbed by the BBC for an interview because you’re not sure that anything would come out of your mouth other than dribble.
The crowds are louder than ever. Louder than you remember. Too bloody loud. You want them to shush! There is no doubting the extraordinary support – the balloons, banners, flags cheering on big bird, monkeys, penguins, the eiffel tower all sorts of unrecognisable wild life. If you like that sort of thing. Which you don’t. You like silence. And meditative running. So why are you actually running the race? Oh yes, for charity. That’s it. Raising much needed funds. Good. That’s okay then.
You need a wee. But you put it out of your mind.
A boat with red indians floats by. Well it doesn’t really float. Because they are running. The supporters start making red indian noises. The runners don’t look happy. You drunkenly grin at them and look around and once again try hard to take in the atmosphere and forget your need to wee which you were only imagining anyway.
Then your hamstrings cramp and you stop smiling. Never before has this happened. You stretch. But every time you stop to stretch somebody behind the barrier yells in your ear that you’re doing fine, keep going, nearly there…Which makes you limp on and swear.
You need a poo. But you put it out of your mind because this is totally unacceptable.
More music lifts you up and carries you forward. You like the live music. A spray of cold water hits you in the face, it’s refreshing. Somebody is making loud grunty noises behind you. A camera ahead makes you grin and lift your arms in the air because you are, after all, a poser, despite the grumpiness. A dinasour shaped penis strides across in front of you. Or is it a penis shaped dinasour? This keeps you occupied for all of two minutes as you try to work out what it is trying to be.
The miles are passing slowly. The cramp is cramping quickly. You realize a pb is not within your reach. Was it ever? You realize too that actually you are not going to run anywhere near the time you reached when you last ran the race. But it’s not a race you remind yourself. It’s an ‘experience’. Hrrrrmphand buggerit say your gremlins. So you walk run. Head down and get to the end. Remembering to lift your heavy head, smile and point your finger to the sky as you cross the finish line.
Because you are One in a Million.
You collect your bling and through the post-marathon brain-fug-silly-walk-drunkfunk, work out where to go to collect your bag. Only determining the bag numbers corresponding to the correct lorry takes you a very long time. Then you sit down on the gravel with a thud and think thank F**k for that and eat your body weight in chocolate.
You take a selfie and tell everyone on Facebook how truly wonderful the London marathon is.
Until the next one.