Do You Remember The First Time?

The other night I was doing a club run, and found myself comfortably at the back of the six-mile group. Sometimes, if you’re not quite feeling the energy surging, taking it easy and just getting time on your feet is the way to go.

A bunch of snowdrops on the side of my running path.
Random picture of snowdrops from my run

I cantered alongside Jim, who was the official tail runner (so no-one’s left behind), and we started chatting about life, the universe and marathons. It was a steered conversation because I am thinking about my final bit of course work for this year. It’s about completing your first marathon, so naturally I asked him a) if he’d run any, b) why, and c) how it felt.

I assumed that all seasoned club runners would at least have bagged one, because, as Jim told me, it’s what every non-runner asked him. ‘Have you done a marathon?’ Or, even more strangely specific, ‘have you done London yet?’. 

London was actually my first marathon, so I’m nothing if not predictable. I felt that I’d finally be able to call myself a runner if I did complete one, because I used to suffer from terrible ‘imposter syndrome’.

Jim’s first was in Stoke, which sounded much harder with all those hills. But apparently it was just in training for London, as who has ever heard of the Potteries Marathon? (Not many people it seems, as it no longer runs due to falling participant numbers). The hills of Stoke should have helped him wipe the floor with the big one, or so Jim thought. He told me, he was looking for a sub 3 hour finish, and right up to mile 22 he was on track and felt brilliant. Just as he waved happily to some family in the crowd, his legs suddenly lost their mojo, and those last 4 and a bit miles were torture.

I know now, that going through that ordeal was not necessary for me to get my ‘runner’ badge. In fact, one of the best runners in the club that I know, Ali, has never run one. Because she didn’t want to knock the fun out of running.

I recognise that feeling. My training for London felt arduous in the extreme and I think I hit a genuine point of delirium from mile 21 onwards for the actual day. The aftermath too was like a deflated balloon. But still, with hindsight, I am proud to have crossed that finishing line, even if I was muttering ‘10 In The Bed’ by the end to myself to distract my brain from the pain.

It has got me wondering though, about how other people view their marathon experiences (if indeed there was one). 

So drop me a line in the comments below, or wherever you see this post, about your first time. 

Did you love it? 

Did you hate it? 

Do you want to stay a marathon virgin?

10 thoughts on “Do You Remember The First Time?

  1. I envy the people that complete and achieve a marathon. I just can not seem to get myself motivated.
    So for me virgin marathon, who will keep trying!

  2. I ran London twice in my 40s and Rotterdam in my 60s. I thoroughly enjoyed them all – and with each passing year, and some rose tinted spectacles, I love them even more.

    1. Ha ha! Although you’re an Ultras man, so you’re in the next league up! Rose tinted glasses and time are why I’m considering doing another for around my 50th next year, as it’s been a good long while since the last one.

  3. Well, I have never run a marathon. I always thought I wanted to run one; however, as the years have gone by, I think I just liked the idea of running a marathon. So, if I ever get back to running, I will stick to 5K races and remain a marathon virgin. Kudos to anyone who has run one or is currently training for one.

  4. Hi Rita, I’m one of the ladies you met at Calder Vale, I was amused to read your blog above about running a marathon, and I started running in my early 40s and I’m now in my early 50s I never had any desire to run a marathon but, as you say, when you run that is what everyone asks you! So last year I did my 1st marathon…. Glen Coe! It was such an amazing experience, I loved it, stunning scenery, over 4000 ft of climbing, very emotional, and now it’s ticked off the list no one needs to keep asking me! I wouldn’t do another because the training takes up so much time, although I discovered some beautiful trails right on my doorstep, but it stopped me doing other things that I also love. But I am glad I did it.

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