Thursday, November 17, 2005

New York Marathon 2005

Run Mal Run – The New York Marathon 2005

Ok in one year I have run three marathons and for those of you who have never run the mystical 26.2 miles I apologise because you have not lived life till you have crossed that barrier of personal pain and belief in yourself

And this edition of the Unholyland blog is to salute all of us who in life have achieved what .1 of 1% of the world’s population has done and that is to have run a marathon.

My first marathon was an eye opener it was Athens in the Olympic year (November 2004) and there was “the hill” but to be honest the most exciting thing about running Athens was running up that hill, ok it was a big hill 10 km’s plus but that was the highlight running up a road. The crowd support was equal to that of a local under thirteen soccer game on a wet day in winter. But being your first marathon the sheer joy of completing the event overwhelms you and the sense of accomplishment cannot be understated. You have become the member of an exclusive club in that you are now a marathoner.

My second marathon was Paris in April, which I ran in under four hours. In Marathon circles saying sub 4 means you are in the club. Not totally in the club but you’re a player. And trust me it hurts to break four hours, you do not just jog around for four hours and watch the scenery.

Paris was big in the sense of running with close to thirty thousand other people makes anything big, but being French there always seemed to be that arrogance of other runners cutting you off and well just being French. The best part of running the Paris marathon was the start, running down the Champs Elysees is truly an awe inspiring thing to do, the problem then is that there is still another 25 miles to go. The last couple of miles are in a park and I was so mentally out of it that I do not remember much at all.

It seems silly to say that you are alive and conscious but at a state where you truly do not exist, that is what happens in a marathon. You can take your body and push it beyond the limits. The mystical wall does exist but only in ones mind, it is not rocket science to explain the “wall” in terms of simple glycogen deficit.

New York takes marathon to the next level, in that the complete city gets into this event, everyone you talk to salutes you, and its genuine they all know the course thru the five boroughs, it almost overwhelms you that the biggest city in the world actually enjoys being closed down effectively for twelve hours so that 35,000 people can run through the streets.

It still staggers me that I was actually running in the same race as the world record holder being clapped and cheered by the same crowd. He was running so fast that he probably did not get to hear the crowds clapping for as long as I did.

So there I am running with the World Record Holder in the same race (and yes I did see him, he is fast) how damm cool is that. Two years ago I could not run around the block and now here I am in a race with the World Record Holder. I figured out that in training for the marathon in New York I had run over 1100 kilometres in 190 days, I had woken up at three am on Saturday mornings to run for endless hours before the sun came up, endless loops of the sports academy track with my heart rate monitor going mad. The funny thing is that in 190 days of training it did not rain on me once.

Last Sunday I ran with my heart and soul, it wasn’t about time and personal bests. It was about being able to participate in one of the greatest sporting events in the world. I reflect on the fact that this race was broadcast live around the world and that my girls could actually watch it back home. Unlike Athens this was no wet soccer game in winter.

From the start to the finish I enjoyed every second of this run, 3 hours 59 minutes and 14 seconds. Coming off the bridge and onto 1st Avenue you are hit by a wall of noise that takes your senses apart. There are people ten deep on the footpath screaming and clapping, I had my name on the front of my running singlet and you hear “Go Mal Go” , Gospel Singers in Harlem , Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn and small kids offering you chewing gum in the Bronx. You run down 5th Avenue towards Central Park and through the pain you soak up being part of the biggest marathon in the world.

It hurt and it hurt very badly for the last six miles (ten kilometres), you take your body and break it and then ask it to keep going. Pain will pass when you cross the line but pride will lasts a lifetime. In those last few miles in Central Park you cross a barrier of personal self and as a runner you look up and believe, you believe in yourself.