I was beginning to believe I could do it. Still on target. It was wonderful and awful. I felt pressure mounting. It would be so much easier not to keep going at this pace. To let off. I couldn’t. I’d promised everyone and not least myself not to take the easy option this time.
I pressed on. My blister hurt. It didn’t matter. Keep going. By 18 I was starting to see runners regularly stop. This is awful. Temptation hits you. No I can’t stop. One poor guy just stopped abruptly and projectile vomited. God this was becoming a war zone. He looked ok so I continued.
Still on target I reached 20 miles in 3:01:30. My muscles were slowly beginning to fill with lactic acid. I tried changing my running style. No use. I was beginning to feel exhausted. I thought the 4 hour target was becoming unlikely. I was running out of gas.
I knew my running partner Peter had come to see me and would be at mile 22 with some support. Just get there I thought. I looked around. No sign of him. Damn, something must have come up. I put my head down and continued. Let it finish soon. I hate this.
Then I heard my name “Rob Rob”. I was so fast Pete had just seen my cap going past and had chased me down. “You’re going to do it”, he said. “4:10” I said. What a difference support makes though. The next mile I kicked on for a bit.
I suddenly started feeling light-headed and that I had to “perform” then I started feeling nauseous. I could no longer drink easily. I tried sports drink and it tasted awful. I just sipped on water. The wheels were starting to come off. For the next two miles I kept feeling wobbly then awful.
I kept going but was beginning to slow. I lost interest in time. I just want to finish to get the thing over with. I can’t stand it anymore.
Off the Greenway we came back into Guilden Sutton. The support was excellent but I could only focus on the hill. Then shortly afterwards for the first time since I have started running (nearly 3 years now) I stopped. I was mentally and physically exhausted. I walked then started running again. The shame of stopping made me continue. My legs were so heavy. I stopped again. Then started. I knew I wasn’t going to quite make my time. Will power had got me so far at this pace but I just didn’t have any left.
I longed for the 26 sign. It took forever. Now going at a snail’s pace I came across the mad woman marshal. She was great (but mad). She was whooping and hollering. God I could have swung for her. Then I saw the 26 sign. The pain will be over soon. Cars were leaving. Drivers with pity in their eyes.
I ran into the Rugby ground car park then saw the grass. I looked for the finishing line and saw my family. I just focussed on the line and kicked as hard as I could. I raised my arms as I reached the line.
I crossed the line in triumph, was given a medal and a bag then went over to the grandstand, leant against the wall and wept. I couldn’t calm myself. I had set a ridiculously high target and nearly pulled it off. The time to be confirmed was 4:02:22
After a few minutes I walked across to my wife and family and gave my wife, Helen a hug. I heard a noise come out of my mouth almost like an animal in pain and just cried and cried. I think at that moment all the pain and joy came out in one big wave of emotion. I had to share it with Helen who has believed in me from the start.
I was not sad at just missing out on 4:00. I was proud of my time. 22 mins off my previous marathon. I ran the race like a veteran and almost delivered.
I’m now 44 but my goal is still to run a marathon in under 4 hours. I ordered a book from Amazon today….. “Advanced marathon running”. Next time I will be even more prepared.