The Irish Examiner Cork City Marathon is just a few weeks away and all over the country runners, like myself, are putting in the hard miles.
I’ve ran 11 marathons to date and the sacrifices are far outweighed by the rewards.
I live in a running bubble. Pelting around the hills of mid-Cork is not everybody’s idea of fun. It’s not really mine either. Strangely, it’s what I find myself doing in my spare time. Why?
I’m not really sure but there is something about race day, a feeling that once you experience, you spend the time until the next one seeking it out again.
“Just one more should do it”, you say.
But one more is never enough.
I started running in 2010 with the intention of finishing just one marathon.
All I wanted to do was strike it off the bucket list and move on, but here I am five years and 11 marathons later.
At 32 years of age, I’m fitter than I was at 20, and my all-consuming passion has become chasing down my personal best time of 3:50.
However, I’ve had terrible races where nothing went right. I’ve hit the wall where the body detaches itself from the brain and tells it that it is just not willing to take any more crap.
Sometimes I wonder if there is any point to it all.
For months, I’ve resisted having even one drink on nights out with friends as my alcohol tolerance is so low, due to my fitness, a few pints would leave me hungover for days.
My friends look at me like I need help.
I probably do.
Weekends away and family events are planned around my training and race schedule.
My wife jokes that she has become a ‘running widow’ after just two years of marriage.
Instead of living a normal life like everybody else, I’m running up a hill in a hailstone shower or sprinting away from an angry dog whose patch I’ve crossed.
All this in pursuit of a medal to wear around my neck for a few hours before it’s consigned to a box underneath my bed.
It’s not like I’m ever going to win a marathon, I’m not even going to trouble the elite runners. My problem is that I’m addicted.
I can’t get the high of a PB off anything else I’ve ever experienced.
The Cork marathon is the big one for me.
It’s the county I live in and the one race where I’ve yet to conquer a sub-four hour finish in four attempts. The challenge of achieving that spurs me on.
The joy that comes with the last length on Patrick Street, the hordes of spectators cheering you on and the sweet release of crossing the finish line are priceless moments.
The journey to get there isn’t pretty but that seems to be part of the satisfaction you feel when it’s all over.
Without pain, there can be no pleasure.
It’s all worth it.
Every last bit of salty tasting sweat that drips from your forehead, every blister and bruise, every damned knee injury and back ache.
The euphoria that comes with finishing a marathon is comparable to nothing else.
Next week: Robert looks at the way your body is affected by training for a marathon.
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