After racing the Berlin marathon in September, it was a welcome feeling to be able to face my next set of marathons without time or pace on my mind. If I’m honest, I hadn’t necessarily planned to run all three in close succession, I’d already agreed upon Chicago with my boyfriend Stephen, and Toronto with my good friend Jeggi, but even so, when an impromptu spot for Berlin came around, it wouldn’t be very likely for me say no.
Running large races so close together isn’t something that I’d recommend for everyone, and people often asked with a grimace “Why?”, and “How this was possible ?”. Well it is, but not without a level of awareness or experience, I guess. I found myself answering these questions with the reality of it. My ultra training over the summer often saw 40 miles + on a weekend, enabling my body to become used to longer miles again. I’m also fully aware that as an adult, it’s ultimately up to me to make the best decision for my own body. I really appreciate opinion and advice, and as stubborn as I may be at times, I will always go into a race knowing that if I feel like crap, I’ll assess the situation, maybe move some goal posts, and ultimately stop if I need to.
I was grateful to be able to share these races, allowing me see them as an entirely different kettle of fish. I wasn’t racing as racing goes in the US or Canada, so the stress on my body and brain was much less. The aim in getting around was nothing to do with myself, but others, which was a welcome shift of focus.
In Chicago the aim was to make sure that Stephen felt comfortable in aiming for a PB, and most importantly, enjoyed it as much as he could. After a glorious sunrise we set off into our pens and waited for the get go. We laughed at suspect signs, spotted the odd pug, soaked up the crowds of the city, and I splashed him with sponges that volunteers were handing out . (I realised after that you should really ask people if they would like slapping with said sponge first. There are nicer surprises, I’m sure). After just over 3 and a half hours running, and successfully managing to not to lose each other, we ushered one another to the finish line to a victory pint of cold beer as we watched our friends finish, before devouring brownies and taking a dip in Lake Michigan. Better than any ice bath.
In Toronto, the following Sunday, after considering and reconsidering what to do, I took to the streets of the 416 with my dear Jegs. I’d been feeling pretty ropey during the previous week and knew full well that I didn’t want to make the wrong decision. I said I’d start and see how I felt, calling it a day if I needed to. I felt much better than I thought I would throughout, and it was an absolute pleasure to share the experience with somebody who has helped to do so much for me in terms of my own progression, despite feeling like my arms would drop off due to the cold at some points.
When Jeggi lived in London, he was someone who I’d chase along the canal in the hope of catching, and on the Canadian streets and along Lake Ontario we danced merrily to steel bands, ran alongside friends, and finished hand in hand. Teammates, together in something we’d said we’d do from the beginning and a morning I’ll cherish for a long time. A trip to the infamous Glory Hole doughnut shop was had, and I can vouch for the bread and butter being the best flavour.
Whilst running a number of long distances in a short space of time can be a big stress to put on your body, it’s also about making sure you make the correct decisions, and understand what works for you. I always feel that there are worse things I could be doing to my body, and although I still have a lot to learn, I hopefully know by now when my body is and isn’t happy.