I have still done fuck all running since the marathon. I went out for a trial run round the block (less than 1km) on Wednesday and it felt fine at the time, but the second I stopped I felt like I’d been kicked in the shin and the pain didn’t go until the next morning.
I was hoping to do my #finishformatt on Friday – that is, to run the London Marathon route from the point where Matt Campbell collapsed and died to the finish line, but given the lack of co-operation from my legs, I had to walk it instead. I was joined by fellow injured runner Rob, who had had to defer his London place after developing a dodgy leg (and now gets to do it in much more sensible temperatures next year – shrewd move) and we both wore some kind of approximation of our marathon kit. We soon discovered that some of the marathon route is not runnable when the roads are open due to lack of pavement; there was one bit that required pole vaulting over a medium sized wall, which was something I was not prepared to partake in (it would have ended in death and a bunch of people having to “#finishforsuzi” in a never-ending cycle of tribute runs). We took a detour through a subway instead.
When we reached the Buckingham Palace area there was some kind of thing going on with horses and marching bands, presumably something to do with the Queen, and lots of barriers and tourists lining the route. This made it feel rather like we were actually finishing the London Marathon and I did my best to block out the bands and imagine crossing the finish line and collecting a medal as Matt would have done, and for all the people who have died running marathons. The thought of dying mid-marathon still breaks my heart, the thought of your friends and family waiting at the finish line and your elation turning to horror and then nothing. What should have been the best days of their lives turned out to be their last.
On a totally different note, today I went to Finsbury parkrun to volunteer. parkrun, as may know, is completely run by volunteers and is free to take part in. But nothing in life is really free, and if you enjoy parkrun, at some point you ought to start giving something back, either by donating money, buying parkrun merchandise (apricot coloured t-shirts with your home parkrun on, barcode wristbands) or giving your time. It’s said that a regular parkrunner ought to volunteer at least three times a year. It’s easiest to fit volunteering in when you are injured or have a race the next day, so today seemed like a good day.
My role was “top of the hill marshal” which is second in sadistic pleasure only to “bottom of the hill marshal”. I found it quite an interesting point because you can see the different tactics people use to get up the hill and the different states they are in afterwards.
First of all you have the Mo Farahs (approximately sub 18 finishers) who all, without exception, bound up the hill like it’s not there. These people are all working really hard and barely have the time/energy to interact with the marshals, maybe a nod or a smile.
Next comes the big pack of runners. These people all seem fast to me. They would probably call themselves “not fast” because they can’t keep up with the Mos, but it’s all relative! It surprised me that a few people who appeared to be on for a 20 minute-ish finish dropped to a walk for the hill and then sprinted off as soon as the course levelled out. I also noticed that most of those who did seemed to make up the lost time on the flat. In this group some were running flat out but quite a few were chatting as they ran and looking quite comfortable and there were a lot more hellos and thank yous in my direction. As more runners came round, I noticed that the medium paced runners tended to run slowly or walk fast up the hill, and only get slightly faster as they continued on the flat. A few men in this group were making alarming grunting noises, one was so loud that I could hear him long before I could see him and at first I thought that either someone was seriously ill or that they were having sex in the bushes.
Finally the snails, that is the group I would have been part of if I was running, started coming up the hill. This is where the pack thins out. There was no pattern to the snails at all, some sprinted up the hill with a big grin on their faces and then walked the flat bit, some walked the lot, some ran the lot but so slowly they were overtaken by walkers, some looked thoroughly fed up but then started running again when they realised the hill was over. The more people that were walking, the harder it was to tell who was there for parkrun and who was just going up the hill and I did inadvertently cheer some people who then proceeded to go in the opposite direction and totally ignore one parkrunner who appeared to be going much too fast for his position in the run. Oops.
It was a fast field today at Finsbury Park, with the tailwalker (who was dressed in jeans and smart shoes) scuttling along to a 42:39 finish. One of the last finishers was an adorable little chihuahua in a high vis coat who was trotting along as fast as her teeny legs could carry her. A parkrun must feel like a marathon to a chihuahua! They were not built for canicross.
Tomorrow I have a 10k race in Greenwich Park. I’m quite nervous about how my leg will behave (it feels absolutely fine but it always does when I’m sitting still!) but if the worst comes to the worst I’ll just have to record my first DNF. I feel there may be significant quantities of walking involved.