A few weeks ago my physio recommended that I did not take part in the marathon because of my weak knees. He gave me a few last minute exercises which, more or less, could make absolutely no difference due to the fact that the marathon was imminent and I had only just organised an appointment my aches and pains checked out. Of course I ignored his advice and through prudent training (cough), grit and sheer stupidity somehow managed to complete the Edinburgh marathon.
Firstly, I’ll admit it was far far harder than I thought it would be. To my surprise it turned out that putting one leg in front of the other for 26.2 miles is more difficult than self- righteously bragging your mates that you’ll be able to complete a marathon no problem. I’ll also admit that for a few brief moments during the event an evil voice in my head told me to give up. This occurred during the race when my knees became unbearably sore but primarily when I realised that I’d forgotten to shuffle my iPod so that I ended up listening to whole Jack Johnson albums at a time. As much as I love that man I’ll now admit his dulcet tones are probably the least inspiring thing to run to for around 5 hours; Zane Lowe I’m not.
Nevertheless there were definitely some great moments during the event. The crowd itself was fantastic, coming out on a Sunday afternoon to fiercely cheer absolute strangers. In my mind the support created an atmosphere akin to a Pentecostal Church service with the amount of love running through the streets of Edinburgh. A more cynical analyst may have compared the atmosphere to a drug rehabilitation centre with everyone cheering each other on through the struggle. To avoid controversy I shall sum up the atmosphere in one satisfying word: lovely.
Importantly, to the people who were cheering on the last mile shouting ‘Only 100 meters left!’, I don’t hate you (anymore), even if you did get me to do what I thought was a finishing sprint when , in reality, I was a good 800 meters away from the finish line. Thus almost killing me when the crushing realisation came. Similarly, to the woman who held up the sign ‘Did you just fart?’ and the people that gave me jellybeans on the last few miles I salute you, you made the marathon considerably more bearable. Furthermore to the kids I high fived with my phenomenally sweaty hand and who subsequently squealed ‘Ewwww!’ I am deeply sorry despite the undeniable comedy value.
Nevertheless, unsurprisingly for readers of previous articles, my personal highlight was looking at the poor souls who forgot to put their nipple plasters on. Their pain (which was plain to see: one or two victims had perfectly parallel blood trails running down their shirts) bought me a pleasant, if not mildly evil, twinge of smugness as I noted the relative comfort of my chest area, now protected by multiple plasters.
In the end I am rather pleased that I, Joe Ives, the same man who came last on multiple occasions in school cross country, is now (to at least some extent) deserving of the title of ‘Marathon Man’. A realisation that is made all the more sweet when I reflect that through it all my knees (and nipples) have remained intact.