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picking up the pieces: analysis

questions, questions, questions ©

Picking up the pieces after licking my wounds proved to be a painful analysis. I took off for a nice long walk on Tramore Beach to clear my head. A calm, sunny day combined with a vast seascape and sand dunes – thinking time Nirvana!

Picking up the pieces on top of a sand dune, at Tramore Beach, Co. Waterford
what a view to assemble one’s thoughts by… and mobile data reception too!

Some years ago it would never even have entered my mind that I wanted to go for a 3-mile walk in the days after a marathon but here I am. Still wallowing in self-pity, dressed up as confusion. Every week of my training plan, executed to precise margins. Sure, I could have been quicker in some sessions but I didn’t have to be for the time I wanted to achieve.

solutions: ooh! an e-mail

Sitting atop a sand dune, solving the mysteries of the world, I heard my phone’s familiar alert tone. Momentarily distracted by the dull bling that was almost drowned out by my thoughts, I took to check the incoming e-mail. Subject line: “2019 KBC Dublin Marathon – PRIORITY ACCESS”…

I stared the phone for a while without opening the message. Almost not wanting to. Two days previous, I had hit mile 17 in Dublin knowing that the wheels had come off, that my chances of reaching 3:20 were over. The dialogue in my head at the time between both halves of my being was, “I can’t do this again. How can I put myself through all that training again? The sacrifice, the pain, the doubt that it will all be for nothing once more.”

You shouldn’t dwell on the negatives, you should learn from the experiences. That’s what you do when picking up the pieces of a less than fruitful endeavour, right? The thing is, my training went well, very well. There wasn’t much to pick apart from lackluster sessions or falling short in target races. In fact, I knocked out a 19-year best over 5km not long before Dublin – I was in great shape. Thoughts turned despondent once more.

changes: never again… will I not

When you get to the end of your first marathon, things change about you. At least, that was the turning point for me anyhow when I lumbered all 96kg of my broken body across the finish line for the first time back in 2007. No other run up til that point had such en effect on my mental state. I recall being more than a touch emotional about it all, to be honest. Squishy, squashy, mushy, gushy aside, it had changed my headspace forever more; little did I acknowledge it at the time.

Three years later I completed by second marathon, 10kg lighter and over 63mins quicker than my first. My first sub-4-hour marathon – I wasn’t picking up the pieces that day. From never thinking that I would run a full distance to now chasing milestones for time and learning how not to quit during prolonged endurance. A marathon changes a person. It says, “Hey you! Yeah, you, the soft-bodied out of shape guy. You can damn well do this; you can run anything you want to.” Distracted by my own journey down the rabbit hole, I had opened the e-mail and 3 minutes later was signed up as a priority entry for Dublin 2019. A marathon changes you…

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