The Marathon Diaries: The Road Back
So here I find myself, back in the car park of The Nag’s Head at Woodborough in Nottinghamshire. Alone and ready to run. Five days ago I filed my entrance online for the Nottingham Robin Hood Marathon in late September to absolutely no acclaim at all. There’s not much going back now. It’s a pleasant Saturday afternoon in early May and I have much work ahead of me.
First name: STUART
Race Type: Marathon – non-AAA affiliated
Date of Register: 30 April 2009
Time of Register: 09:11:06
It’s familiar road, one I’ve know so many times. I’m breezing along steadily with that small Hibernian FC Harp on my chest and a Maple Leaf emblem on my shorts. The first stream appears with a duck paddling furiously underneath the brackish water, swimming against an insistent current.
I’m threading through a pretty shroud of trees into Epperstone and the music is playing. It’s a sound derived of The Highlands. It’s inspirational.
When i am tired
Tired of the fight
You come to me
And it’s all right
If i am beaten
Down and on my knees
Yeah you pick me up
And you set my soul free
The sound of Stuart Adamson will always live on.
It’s to be a five mile run but the mental process quickly changes. I could run eight miles or ten? That would be good. I settle for thirteen as doggedness quickly takes hold with the prospect of reaching the river pastures. How many time have I thought this way? Converting shorter distances into longer ones?
I didn’t prepare with food or drink for this though and quickly my stomach cramps as I approach the quintessential English village main street, passing by an ancient pinfold. It’s an incongruous experience at the end of the long and narrow sunny lane as I breeze past high hedges in Gonalston, concealing pretty and typically English gardens. Meanwhile the roar of the Highlands fills my head.
There are no other people but me, an odd car passes intermittently but that is all. I leave the hot tarmac roads to press through the old white painted clapper gate onto the Spring green pastures of the River Trent. It’s a peaceful scene with a slow running river for company and but a few cattle with their young in my peripheral vision. My awareness includes increasing tiredness though.
A gaggle of drinkers sit on the Unicorn balcony as I doggedly course through the attractive riverside village, some peer non-committedly, lost in their thoughts as they scan the far riverbank. It’s now time to turn onto the rough, grassy paths which zigzag towards Caythorpe and an over-welcome drink of water on this warm day.
The long drink is sadly a little late as my prolonged and unexpected run today begins to take it’s toll. I wasn’t prepared as I should be but will be another time. The music helps sustain me as I concentrate on breathing every bit of fresh oxygen into my body that I can. It’s a long hard road back to Woodborough and rest. It mirrors what the next four months will be like. It mirrors what running the Nottingham Marathon will be.
Let’s hope I get there. there’s a long way to travel…