Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.
I once had a dream that I was standing at the start line of an event, and it would transpire that this event would be the day of day's. The outing I would always remember for all of the right reasons. It did'nt escape me that in this dream the rain was so heavy that I would be sopping wet before the gun even went off. Maybe this is why I don't mind training on raining days.
Waiting in the starters area for the Wellington marathon things were so wet we actually left a full three minutes early. Apparently it was because they were concerned about runners getting too cold, but I suspect it was due to the officials wanting to get back indoors. With the rain so heavy that I could feel the water running down my back we setoff for the 42.2kms of the marathon. Just for the record, this was not to be my 'day of days'.
With the Ironman behind me the goal of the marathon was two fold. Firstly, focus on running. Secondly, better my IM marathon time of 4:57. I also wanted to work on my running base, with the second half of the year originally planned for more of the same. This too would change.
The marathon itself went like clockwork for the first 21kms. I asked myself at 18kms if it had'nt been a little foolish not to have gone faster up until that point. I felt so good with the running, and ignored any urges to stick with those who occassionally passed me. Ironically, with the wind at my back at the turn around point...it all went south. The first sign that all was not well was a slight cramp in my left calf. Later it would be my right. Both hamstrings would follow, and eventually my thighs (possibly feeling left out) also started to make a noise. Several people said that this is a part of running and it's a case of pushing through. Fair points - But not really relevant. The key aspet here is that I did'nt stop, and the cramping was so bad that I finished the race with a blister along the length of the sole of both feet. One would be filled with blood.
The low point though were those moments where people would say, "You can do it". Thanks. I knew I could do it, but expected to be showered and half way home by the time I was (as it turned out) ten kms from the finish. Not a good look. Most odd was the legs completely going about eight kms from the end. The legs were more tired than they had been at Ironman. Looking ahead then I had a few tears in my eyes as I slowly progressed towards the finish. Not due to pain or the race time, or anything else that is not really that important, but because I could see the next 18 months of training needing to be adjusted and, truth be known, reconsidered altogether.
The lasting memory is holding the finishers medal and wondering for several moments if I really wanted to keep it. I eventually decided it was worth keeping, and was profoundly pleased on this decision when removing my shoes. I wore sneakers to work all week.
I certainly found out who my friends were in the next few days. Two people quickly commented that my long terms plans were still on track, and quite possible. These sentiments were acknowledged and meant a great deal. Several others seized the opportunity to let me know what they thought of both my outlook on life and longer term goals. To be frank I was still struggling with walking until the Wednesday after the marathon.
Finally then, I recall the finish of the marathon. It would seem fitting that the event would finish at the home of the Wellington Phoenix. A club that had to reinvent itself not once, but twice to start gaining success. Thus, I too will take what I can from the event, and have set my sights on the two outings for later this year. Then, 2011 will bring about my decision on long term plans. It would be fair to say that this chapter was sent to test me.