I am not looking for sympathy nor kind words of encouragement as I know this little bit of pain will leave soon (hopefully within a week or so). As one of my mantra's goes: 'Pain is temporary. It may last for a minute, or an hour or a day, or even a year. But eventually, it will subside. And something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it will last forever.'
I got up at 5.30am on Saturday for a quick breakfast and to check I had everything I needed for a day trip marathon. I hopped on the train in Colbert Station in Limerick at 6.40 for the 1.5 hours trip to Portarlington. It is only 300 meters from the train station to the Portarlington GAA grounds were the race would start and finish.
I met up with several fellow MCI (Marathon Club Ireland) members before the race. Our love and passion for the lifestyle that is Marathon running always leads to nice conversations. I love being a part of that! MCI rocks with bells on!
We set off at 9.30am and almost immediately I fell to last in the field, something I am used to as I am a slow starter and need a couple of miles to warm up. The difference here was that I wasn't making up ground easy and the legs felt heavy. I had to remind myself this was my 4th Marathon in 6 weeks, something that was way beyond what I had done before.
However after about 5k, my left shin started really paining me, as if a needle was being stabbed into it every couple of steps. I decided to run up to a couple of others that were about 100 meters in front of me so I could get to chat with less concentration on the pain. I was hoping to run it off.
The route itself was not closed off from traffic due to a small enough field of about 70-80. This meant concentrating on the traffic as well which in this case helped. Mind you it was very well marshalled by excellent volunteers. And it was typical midlands country side. Rolling terrain with a couple of small rivers, farms and some forestry. Pleasant enough to run in.
The pain was worsening. Declan from the Club offered me a painkiller which I didn't take as I was only 15K in. We had a 7K run out of town, then two 16K loops and a 3K run to the Finish. When I got to the start of the second loop I was down to walking and even that hurt. A van of the organisers pulled up beside me and asked me to hop in as I didn't look great. I refused the offer (I think politely) as I had 'only' 18K to go. 1K further down the road I gladly accepted Mary's (another club member) offer of a painkiller (25K mark) and walked on. About 15 minutes later I was able to run/walk and I was able to run the full last 5K, overtaking 5 competitors. Still in pain yet bearable compared to before.
So I reached the Finish line to cheers from some club members in 4 hours 36. Number 9 of the Challenge done!! The tea and buns were very welcome as was the offer of a lift back to Limerick from David and Mary Toomey who live in Listowel. Did I mention yet how much I love MCI people??? You guys Rock solid!
I love the Marathons des Escargots medal and t-shirt!!
Anyway now for the consequences. I knew already I was a tough yoke from previous life experiences.
What I learned Saturday is the importance of moving forward, the importance of not giving in when your mind plays tricks on you, the awareness that strength can be found within if you do things you love, the knowledge that this can be applied to life and my other passions in work.
The understanding that I have what it takes to achieve whatever I set as my targets.
And for today another mantra, this time from Haruki Murakami: 'Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional'.
I have 12 days to prepare my body for the next Marathon and will do whatever it takes to get ready. Que sera, sera!
You can donate for the 16 marathons in 12 months challenge for Gorta Self Help Africa on http://www.mycharity.ie/event/patrick_mercies_12marathonsin12monthsin2015