For some one whom I have not seen in a long time, well I say a long time I think it as been almost a year when we both hung out he did make a brief appearance back in September last year but it was such a quick visit it wasn’t anything worth writing home about. However now I suddenly hear from him again. I suppose I should explain that this ‘Friend’ is not really a friend, nor is he an enemy or someone I have distaste for. This ‘Friend’ goes by the name of Doubt.
Last night I was running the course (excuse the pun) through my head looking back at my training, wondering if I have done enough weekly miles, did I do enough 20 mile runs, should I rethink my game plan and go for a 4.30 time, rather than dreaming of a sub 4. And then there is the weather, are people going to bother to come out and support if it’s raining, will my mates bother cheering me on. I know I have gone on about it, but so far no one seems to acknowledge this is a big deal and maybe it’s not but for me it’s the biggest challenge I have taken on and Doubt knows that, as he edges closer to buddying up once again.
He has started planting the seeds into my mind. ‘Am I going to finish’ ‘Will I wake up’ ‘Should I rethink the entire game plan’ ‘Maybe I should have tried the energy products they’re using on the course’ ‘Will my energy gels and drinks I use be good enough race day’ All of these thoughts are swirling around my brain making me dizzy, making me sick. People who are colleagues have gwaped and gasped at the notion of 26.2 miles as a nice little sunday run and have even gone on to question my madness where my friends and when I say friends I do not include all them in this following paragraph.
Where as my friends don’t seem to be there, only two have confirmed they may be on the course to support me, a lot think because I’m a runner then I will be able to walk the course easily, which is the exact opposite of what I want to do. Yes I’m a runner and yes knocking back a 6 mile or 10 mile run is easy but this one on Sunday has a wall and so far in my training I have not seen it. People tell me it is around mile 18-20 but I have run that distance and saw no wall. It’s fine because my good friend is being supportive telling me it will be at mile 22 and there not a cat in hells chance I will be able to run through it as a result the Manchester Marathon will be my first DNF, you can always rely on Doubt to offer reassurance.
Now don’t get me wrong I don’t expect a big team bus with everyone I’ve met coming out to support me, but I am about step into the breach, the unknown, yes I run, yes I have run 20 miles but this, this is new and yes everyone can say it’s not that hard Mrs Brown aged 67 did it in London. But I’m not Mrs Brown, I’m me and this is unmarked territory I have no idea if I’m ready for this both mentally and physically and to have the support of my friends who see what a big deal this is and support me through it would make the whole day seem a lot less ominous as I can tell you now I am ‘Shitting it’ (Pardon my French) But yet again this is Doubt dealing the cards, making me think I will be all alone where in fact my Mother will be there, and hopefully two of my good mates.
Now maybe it’s just a big thing to me, but it’s a marathon, and how many people can say they have done one. According to my running mags, only 0.6% of Americans have run a marathon in 2011 and the USA is mad for the 26 miles. They reckon that in the world only 3-5% of the population have taken on the task. And maybe thats why I want my friends around me, to celebrate my achievement to share in my happiness of conquering this milestone. For some people it’s getting there dream job, getting married or having a baby, buying a house where for me it’s running and entering competitions.
I always find it odd when I turn up to races and see my fellow runners with their friends and family at the start and finish and I’m there on me lonesome. I have my mum at the race on Sunday and I hope some of my mates will be there as it’s not just crossing the line but all the months of training and sacrifice. It’s the years of being sat on my arse and drinking and smoking – looking back and thinking that the old Tom wouldn’t have been able to do that, the old Tom wouldn’t never have even entertained the notion of running to the shop let alone 10K or a full marathon.
I think a lot of people don’t have a true notion of the distance involved. But as I sit and carb load and rest my legs alone, the only friend I have to speak to is that of Doubt he was there for the 10K and there at my first half, and he’s here now. He even said he will be there on Sunday somewhere along the course. Even now he is trying to break me down making me think I have no support and it is just me. He is slowly pounding on the pressure playing every tactic be it emotional with friends or causing me to question my own sense of belief.
The only thoughts I have running in my head to get rid of doubt is that…
1. I’m doing this for my self
2. I enjoy running
3. How many other people can say they have taken this on
4. Enjoy the day
So Doubt, do me a favour and do one, I don’t need friends like you around me.
I do hope its nice weather and not this cold windy wet weather, as I do want my mates to be out on the course cheering me on along with hopefully the other spectators.
I will leave you with this final thought. I am not sure who wrote it but I hope I will be able to say it on Sunday along with the other 8000 runners.
“At mile 20, I thought I was dead. At mile 22, I wished I was dead. At mile 24, I knew I was dead. At mile 26.2 I knew I was too tough to kill”