Many of you may remember meeting Naomi at some Saturday Bootcamps and you might have already followed her first blog about her Valencia Marathon journey, which is now just 4 weeks away!!
It only feels like yesterday when Mart & I were training for the same Marathon and Naomi was taking part in the 10k. It was only weeks after that I received a message to say ‘I’ve signed up for next years Valencia’s marathon…. HELP!’
Naomi has been the perfect pupil. She has shown remarkable diligence when following the plan and her mental strength is phenomenal, along with her self belief. I’m not sure she believes me, but these qualities will get her through that 26.2 miles and we are already looking forward to hearing all about her successful Marathon experience! In the mean time let’s hear from the Marathon Woman herself…
So here I am with less than a month to go. I can’t believe it’s been nearly a year since I first signed up to this journey. I’ve been thinking about the days when all this started.
It has only been 4 years since I went out on that first run around the school block. I am very easily talked into things, and until then hadn’t run properly before so it was hard going and I felt pretty sure no hill exists in the universe that is steeper than the one we ran up. The swearing under my breath helped me through though, and I said there and then that running was NOT for me. 1 week later I looked down and to my surprise realized there was a race number pinned to my top and I was stood on a starting line.
I had only just moved to Madrid then, and over the next few weeks I found myself being talked into running in the evenings and signing up for races. I was still wondering at this point whether it was too late to choose another social group. I didn’t though thankfully, and I soon became addicted to the drive and sense of accomplishment that running gives. I have now seen my 10k time gradually reduce by 15 minutes throughout this period, and I also have 3 half marathons under my belt.
I am very blessed to have support from friends, and until now, I have done most of my races with the very people that encouraged me from the beginning. This has been a massive motivation for me so far, but now I am facing the reality that this marathon is my own fight and I need to overcome the challenges myself.
When I did my 20 mile run last weekend, it was definitely the hardest I have ever done. It was the first time I felt lonely, and this made the distance seem never ending and allowed negative thoughts to creep into my head which until now, I had pretty much kept out. It didn’t help that I was in a different place, with friends around, and knowing they were all together eating lunch made me wonder why I was putting myself alone, running for 3 and a half hours. As I said, this is my journey and my fight, and no one can fight it for me. My head can be my best friend, or my enemy.
I started focusing on how hot the sun was, and how I still had 15 miles to go up and down the sea front about a thousand times (it was only about 5 times actually). I got a stone in my shoe, which I could have probably destroyed with mind power, given how angry I was with it.
I thought about how much my back ached and that it was lunch time, then about how little sleep I had had. Then I was convinced the whole run was a waste of time because I had had to grab some water from a shop, so technically I had stopped. Feeling like a run is a waste of time with 10 miles to go was a real killer for me.
I kept going though, and when I reached the final few miles I was joined by my friends who know me well enough to ignore the bad language and complaining, and just to get me to the end.
This all sounds like a real tale of woe, but it’s a true one. I do need to be honest about my ups and downs.At about 2pm on Sunday the 19th November when I´m sat with a cold beer, it will be memory that day I´ll be celebrating most. The ability to win the mind battle, giving the negative thoughts a real clobbering by remembering that I really can do it despite the loneliness, the dehydration, the heat, the hills and the stones.
They are all nothing compared to the sense of achievement, the satisfaction of hard work, and being in a place that I wasn´t before having achieved more than I could have imagined.
It will be strange for all this to be over, and not receive my weekly email with the schedule. It has become a real routine and actually quite a comfort – they are coming from someone who knows exactly how I feel. Without that, there is no way I would be where I am. It´s just the support and encouragement I need to get me through the last few weeks and finally reach that start line, and I will be reaching that start line.
And now, a final word…