Running your first marathon is exactly like giving birth to your first baby. You get the same length of time to prepare - 4 to 6 months. The event happens at a pre-determined time and place. It’s guaranteed to last a set amount of time - 3 to 5 hours. Three quarters of the way through someone gives you a handful of jelly babies which helps the last quarter go easier than you thought it would. And most importantly of all, after you’re done, and they’ve put the medal round your neck, your can put your feet up and decide never to lift a finger ever again.
So in summary your first marathon is exactly like the birth of your first child, but only in 2 specific ways.
The first way is that you don’t know how it’s going to go. You don’t have a freakin' clue. You have a rough approximation based on shaky supposition built on a foundation of random half truths, or to use the correct terminology, a guess. A great big stinkin' shot in the dark guess. You have no expectations because you have no knowledge. No experience. No clue. 5 years, 15 pounds and 6 months of proper training ago I was capable of 3 and a half hours. Right now for that I would need a taxi. In my dreams I am capable of four hours. My 17 mile final training run put me at 4 and a half. But which way do you go? The positivity which will propel you forward, or the unrealistic irrational hope which will crush you half way round when you realise you’re heading for 5 hours and you just got lapped - by a person on crutches. I’ve done training runs where I felt after 12 miles I could have easily gone on. But hey, what about the training run where after 12 miles I thought I was dead? Again a half truth, the real truth is that I was dead, in hell, and the devil had the car parked another 3 miles away. With the wind against. The devil always has the wind against. He’s the devil. Which will tomorrow be? I just don’t know. I know I’ve trained well, my previously torn hip lasting 3 months more than it has any right to do, the knees only giving way once, the new attempted torn calf muscle repaired itself. All of which should be positive and help, but it makes it worse because all of them mean that tomorrow could be my first and last marathon. Tomorrow could be it, so hey, no pressure.
The second way your first marathon is like your first baby is that everyone has a story. There are many types of story teller. The first are your broad strokers, the ones who, lost for anything to say in the face of your obvious insanity/senility/intoxication in wanting to run a marathon, come out with “Wow, a marathon, 26 miles. That’s, like, a long way.” Thanks for that. While we’re on the topic why don’t you let me know that Hitler was a bad man, drinks in bars cost too much and giving birth might hurt a little. Then we have the Stephen Kings – the ones who delight in telling you of that friend of a friend who tried to run a marathon, ripped his knee, tripped on a curb, broke his ankle, couldn’t move and then the blood attracted a nearby shoal of piranha. They tell this story in the manner of Rafiki, the wise old sage, confident that you will listen to their wise lesson and immediately give up on the marathon and return with your friends to your true calling, the couch. And finally you have the extremists, both of the experienced and in-experienced [guessing] type. Who will tell you that giving birth/running a marathon is easy/insane, life changing/certain death, addictive/an evil once in a lifetime personal trauma forged on the shores of hell. I get a lot of that in my role with early pregnancy counseling. The woman who told me she wasn’t worried about the birth because her sisters had told her that all of them shell them out like peas [Yes, she listened to her sisters. Does life teach us nothing? Brothers were bad enough]. And then there was the woman who had got the idea in her head, repeatedly repeated to me, that, and I quote, “I’m going to hear it when I tear, aren’t I? You don’t just feel it, you hear it. I just know I’m going to hear it. I’ve been told that”. Considering this was at 12 weeks, and she had another 28 to worry about it [and she did], this did not bode well. [For the record the second woman didn’t tear, but did describe it as horrendous. The first woman did indeed shell one out like a pea. I told her never to mention that to anyone ever again. There were other women on the planet. They might hear her]. Marathons are the same. Everyone has a tale from one end of the spectrum, confident their war story/friend’s war story/thing they read on the internet once will inspire you/motivate you/make you stop and pause/scare the enema out of you/make you run for the hills, as long as the hills aren’t 26 miles away and the wind isn’t against. Plus who wants to run uphill?? I’ve heard about the pain, the body shock, the trauma, The Wall, the exhilaration, the triumph, the success, the ability to travel the world and do marathons in different places. [I pity all those poor people who don’t do marathons and are therefore unable to travel the world.] I’ve seen the look on a patient’s face when I told him, at 70, that the surgeon’s advice was never run another marathon. I’ve seen the look on another patient’s face when I asked him if he’d enjoyed the London marathon. [Imagine I’d asked him if it was ok if I stabbed him in the eye with this cactus and then put it up on youtube]
Not knowing. Only one way to cure that
Let you all know tomorrow