I’m getting a blister on my finger from clicking refresh on the weather forecast. It is a futile exercise; it changes by the hour. At one point it said 19c and sunny – everyone had kittens. It currently says 13c, sunny spells, with a shower in the afternoon. I’ll take that. It’s silly to obsess over the weather but it’s hard not to – it makes so much difference both to finish times and to enjoyment of the race!
I have been eating a lot of carbs. Admittedly, this is not a huge departure from the normal state of things.
I have packed my suitcase. I expect I will unpack it and check that everything is there at least three times before Saturday. One of these occasions will probably be on the way to the station. The relief when I unpack in Brighton, even though I have checked everything three times and can probably buy a replacement there anyway, will be overwhelming.
I have done my roots, plucked my eyebrows and colour co-ordinated my race day outfit. Tomorrow I will be having my nails painted to match my trainers. One of my biggest regrets from Dublin is that I did not get a single decent photo from the entire seven hour ordeal, so I am going to make it a mission to get one at Brighton. This is actually one time when being slow works in your favour, as there are less other runners to get in your way. I have studied the map and intend to sprint past every photograph with a big smile and feet flying.
I have been for a short “dress rehearsal” run with my pockets stuffed with gels and Vaseline and determined that my top does not chafe and my leggings do not fall down. I did not enjoy this run at all, every second felt like wasted energy that could be spent on the marathon and every step felt like a potential accident. I have seen others on the Facebook groups saying similar – there is no possibility of enjoying a run at this stage when all you can think of is the mammoth task ahead of you.
I have made a list of the things I want to do with my life once the marathon is over and I have some free time. One of them was “ride my bicycle more”. I went to check it was ok today and found that one of the other residents has started using it to dry their wet cycling gear on. Evidently the fact that it has not been used for a while has not gone unnoticed.
I have worried about not finishing, even though I know that 99% of people who start a marathon finish it, and that I have finished one before in much worse shape. I have also worried that I will finish, but that it will take me longer than seven hours and seven minutes. I almost think that would be worse, to find that the months’ training and effort have counted for absolutely nothing and that I should have just gone on the piss and winged it.
I have endlessly panicked about my spectators and my friends who are running the marathon, whether they will get sunstroke or cold exposure waiting for me (I am the only slow runner amongst us, even though this was all my bloody idea and I talked everyone else into doing it). I have published detailed instructions on my Facebook for them, including “If you see me walking, and I’m right at the back, don’t panic! It’s all part of the plan. I’m just doing it at my own slow pace!”
I have done a lot of maths. I have worked out that if I run/walk 28km at my planned pace and then complete the rest at a brisk walk I will finish in six and three quarter hours. If I run/walk everything except for the power station loop, I will be in within six and a quarter. If I run/walk everything and pick up the pace in the last 5km I will finish under six hours, and a herd of pigs will fly over Brighton. I think the second outcome is most likely. If I had to place a bet on my own finish time, I’d put it on 6:07. But at risk of sounding a complete sap, the finish time doesn’t matter as much to me as it would in a shorter race. The fact that I have made it this far, that I have done all my training and will be lining up on that start line with the elites and my fast friends and people in banana suits and giant rhinos, as much a marathoner as any of them, is the real victory. I’ve done the hard part already. I’m here. The marathon is my lap of honour. All I need to do is make it to the finish line.