8 weeks ago I was asked by adidas Runners if I wanted to join them and represent London in the Berlin marathon. If you’ve been reading my blog you’ll have seen day by day what I’ve done to train.
I’d never run a marathon before, so my mantra was simply to finish it. 8 weeks isn’t enough time to train so I wasn’t expecting much. Come race day I was a mixed bag of emotions: excitement for what would become my greatest achievement, fear of failure, scared of the crowds, sadness that my journey would soon be over, and happiness for the people I was sharing the journey with.
I was fortunate enough to start the race with some friends. After about 10km we lost each other. I felt a little apprehensive at the thought of going it alone. But I knew I wasn’t really alone. Thousands of other runners from all over the world were surrounding me, each with their own individual goal and purpose. All in all, pretty exciting.
What I loved was the crowd. Around every corner there were cheers, high 5s, bands and banners. One t-shirt stuck out to me early on: If you’re brave enough to start, you’re strong enough to finish. Words I took with me for the entire race.
A few moments in the race remained strong memories:
- 16km. Hearing a band play “we are the champions”, happiness. Followed by a bloke swinging his arm too far and punching me in the face, pain. A small group of adidas Runners supporters on the sideline, energy.
- 30km. Realising I was on to something. Seeing a clock and calculating my time as around 02.45, 15 minutes faster than my 30km time in training. I pushed on, determined.
- 37km. Turning the corner and hitting the adidas Runners cheer point. I entered it with as much energy as I had, and they gave me twice as much back. High 5s, cheers and confetti canons. I almost felt famous!
- 38-41km. The wall. I had pushed myself to my limits, my legs were sore, muscles I didn’t know I had were throbbing. I wanted to give up. I couldn’t. I’d come this far. I was determined not to walk. I knew this was when my mental strength would be tested. ‘Focus, Coren, you’ve got this.’
- 41km. Boost. 1km to go. I remember turning the corner and seeing the Brandenburg Gate ahead. Almost there. The crowd were going mental. ‘You’ve got this, Coren. You’ve done something amazing.’
- 41.5km. Under the gate. Legs shaking. Spring finish giving every last ounce.
- 42.195km. Over the line. Slow down. Tears.
03:49:10: A number that has a new meaning to me. My first marathon time.
Feelings? In the seconds post-race I was in disbelief. What just happened? Tears streaming down my face I collected my medal. I carried on towards the exit but was disoriented and didn’t really know where I was going. I was in shock. First marathon, smashed.
Then I saw my race stats, adding to my confusion:
- First half: 01.54.36
- Second half: 01.54.34
Having had a week now to process everything I’ve still not really got to grips with what happened. But I have reached this conclusion: I don’t realise my own physical and mental strength. I believed I could do it, but I didn’t believe I could do it well.
What’s next? Watch this space.