...posted in the bristolmarathon a few days ago: In October I will be running the Loch Ness Marathon and am, bizarrely, rather looking forward to it. And then, all things being equal, the Bristol Marathon in November, a prospect exciting and daunting both.
Despite having never run a marathon before I already suspect it isn't my distance, whatever pleasures and pains it will bring.
5ks are for the Speedy Gonzales of the distance world, haring off in a burst of sweaty exultation, finishing before I have even begun. It takes me 5k to warm up, for my body to remember how to breath, how to stride, how to find its rhythm. I feel lost when I run 5k, a little out of sorts, a bit befuddled. My body wonders why I am doing this, why I am stopping just as I get going. It grumbles and aches and complains.
10ks are of a similar ilk for me, I usually begin to feel at my most comfortable as a 10k reaches it's end. On a good day I feel strong from about mile 5 onwards, on a bad one I flag towards the last. The distance isn't a challenge, but I am not one for speed. I like running, at my pace, to the beat of that inner metrenome, tick-tocking inside my head. A 10k doesn't do it for me, it doesn't feel right, it doesn't fit, it isn't long enough.
I like half-marathons. I have only run in two (Cardiff and the Forest of Dean), but I have run at least 13.1 miles a number of times, and it is a distance both comfortable and achievable whilst yet remaining a challenge. I am not particularly fast, but I am pretty consistent and I know I can run a half on a good day, and probably even a mediocre day. I love the feel of 13.1 miles, the distance feels worthwhile without being terrifying, fun even when hard, the end always within sight and ability. I really do like them, I enjoy every step, no matter where they take me.
Marathons on the other hand, are intimidating. A little while ago I watched a time-lapse video of the New York marathon route, crushed into a mere 3 minutes. And it is a very long way indeed. A half-marathon looks a long way on a map, a full marathon incomprehensibly so.
But then I haven't run one yet. Somehow, like the school playground of my childhood, I think running the marathon will shrink the half, turning what was once a vast arena of adventurous possibility into something charming and comfortable and familiar. I worry that I will lose that special relationship with the half, and yet I suspect not. I like it too much, it fits, it really does.