Thank you. I could actually stop there, because ‘thank you’ is what I want to say and I doubt that I have the words to really tell you what I mean by that, but that would make for a very short and rather weird missive, so I’ll go on.
Juma Ikangaa once said of the marathon that
the will to win means nothing without the will to prepare
and he is undoubtedly right. Hey, the man won the New York marathon in ’89 with a PB of 2:08:01 so I’m not going to disagree with him. But the will to prepare comes from many sources for me. High amongst them is the RunDemCrew. From the fastest and most potential-filled amongst you to the timid new-kids cutting their teeth on a first run with the Tortoises, I am inspired by you to go out night after night, day after day, on double days and track sessions where I’m doubled-over because I know that somewhere in London-town you all are trying your hardest. I’m also hugely inspired by Charlie: mentor, leader and friend. Your energy and strength (and if I’m honest a desire to gain your approval) have been instrumental in driving me out of bed on cold, wet, dark mornings more than a few times.
The will to win
But the will to win*… that is what is required once the training has been done. That is the thing that nags me and bothers me in the final weeks and days leading up to the key race. I focus on the same three questions that Charlie Spedding did: “What do I want, why do I want it, how much do I want it” and the answers need to be pretty compelling because it is going to hurt at some point in the marathon if I am going for my win. Finally on the day it all the training and psychology gets distilled down to 26.2 miles.
The motivation boost on the day
So on Sunday I knew I was in good physical shape and I had my head screwed on with the answers to my three questions etched into my brain. Then it was time to concentrate and execute the plan.
But by mile 20, it was really getting tough. I knew it would, but knowing in advance and dealing with on the day are different things. I was hoping for – in fact almost praying for – a boost.
And suddenly BOOM! There was the RunDemCrew in full effect. I saw the van first. Then I heard someone – a woman – shout my name up the road. And then the noise! Amazing. The adrenaline rush was incredible as a forest of hands flew up and out and I went for all the human contact I could get at 6 minutes per mile… I saw Terry first. Then Algy. Then Charlie in the middle of the group (you were quiet and serene, I thought) and then (I’m sorry) a blur of wonderful colours and voices.
Within a moment you were all gone, but the tingle and the rush was there all the way to Blackfriars and as I ploughed on and turned left and then right onto the Highway with about 4 miles to go, I knew I would get my win – a PB and justification for all the choices I had made to be the best runner I can be. I had had the will to prepare and with the encouragement of so many of you at the ‘Crew who I cherish as friends, I had the final ingredient for the will to win.
So I’ll finish where I started. Thank you every one of the RunDemCrew who have inspired me in many ways and not least for the boost on Sunday. I owe you one!
* my definition of ‘win’ is achieving my personal targets, your personal targets, whether that is actually to win or just to get round, a PB or running the whole way – it is all the same to me.