So today marks four weeks until I’ll be running the marathon and I genuinely have never been more scared to do anything in my entire life. With my fundraising target well and truly hit (big thanks to all who donated!), there’s nothing left to do but to run. And run I have been doing. As the running becomes farther and longer, and I inch further and further in distance, I have been enjoying it substantially less (which might explain my lack of updates). But what I have noticed most of all is how important external factors become when you’re stuck in your own head for the best part of two hours, trudging along, placing one foot in front of the other. The most trivial things can start to annoy the hell out of you, and drive you mad as you attempt to keep your rhythm/attempt not to keel over. These are a small selection of all these things (yes, I’ve become the grumpiest jogger you can find).
- Ill-fitting headphones
You’re rocking along to some Bruce Springsteen number, a little Mumford & Sons, a lot of Beyoncé tracks, even a little Natasha Bedingfield (taking it back to the magical Noughties, I’ve no shame), and the earphone pops out of your left ear. You adjust. The right one comes loose. You adjust. And this goes on for the entire run. Left. Right. Left. Right. And then you turn the corner into Europa Point (Gibraltar’s teeny version of ‘The Windy City’) and the wind catches onto your headphone cords, and then both headphones have popped out, and the whole thing is a tangled mess.
- Slow-moving pedestrians
People often say I’m crazy for getting up as early as I usually do for my running. There are many reasons why I do this (one being so people don’t see me tomato-faced and dying up Rock Hotel hill) but one is definitely that I hate getting stuck between prams, the elderly, dogs, tourists and the odd motorcycle mounted on the pavement (it’s Gib, road rules do not exist to most). Just as a car enthusiast likes the open road, I appreciate the open pavement.
- Blister friction
Nothing makes you want to stop like blisters between two toes, on the sole of your feet, back of your heel. I hear this is one of the many things to bother most people on the day of the marathon itself, so Compeed is definitely going to be my friend.
- When your phone runs out of battery mid-run
The struggle is real. No music, and solely the sound of your own laboured breathing: not fun.
- The Nike Running App lady reminding you how slow you’re going
You’re mid-run, after a night of binge eating at a barbeque and enough tinto de verano to sink a ship (the munchies aspect to this blog has gone out the window, in case you hadn’t noticed) and pretty chuffed with having got out of bed in the first place and this lady is chirping in your ear about how you’re at least a minute outside of your usual pace per kilometre. You know you’re going slower, you can tell by the fact that the power walkers are pretty much in stride with you, I do not need this reminder!! Where’s the mute button?
- The Nike Running App lady reminding you how far you still have to go
You’re thinking ‘Ooh I must be almost halfway’ and then she pipes up with ‘Two kilometres. You have eight kilometres to go.’ Oh, and you’re running pretty slowly by the way. Mute, mute, mute
- Fighting the elements
Running into the wind has got to be one of the most irritating things on this list. You were feeling okay until the wind picks up, and you’re running straight into what feels like the perfect storm, with your hair in your face, tangled headphones (see point 1), dust in eyes and all you can think is why didn’t I stay in bed?! It will all be worth it, right?
- Sweat in eyes
That stinging sensation starting to seep into your eyes, you wipe with your equally sweaty hands, it only gets worse, then with your vest, which is just as sweaty, and then you’re just a squinty mess trying to see through the stinging. Urgh.
- Running round in circles
Gibraltar is not the largest of places. Ten to twelve kilometres all the way round at a stretch. Thus, as my running distances have increased, I have been finding it exceptionally more difficult to find routes which avoid lapping (and hills, always avoiding the hills). Don’t get me wrong, Gib has some of the most beautiful routes, especially in the early morning light, by the beach, or up the Rock, with views of the Straits. Gorgeous. Unfortunately, once you’ve seen that view twice in one run, and you just want it to end, the novelty sure does wear off.
- Post-run getting home
So, though not technically during my run (nor a problem that most have), possibly the biggest irritation I find when I finish my run is getting back to my front door. I’m lucky enough to live in an area which, no matter which way you choose to go, to get back home I have to tackle one of three or four choices of steep hills. My own personal Everest after a gruelling 13km. I have on more than one occasion sat down at the bottom of it and considered calling a taxi/my dad to drive me up. No such luck though.
Can you tell how much fun I’m having? I have to keep reminding myself that I signed up for this, and I was the one who thought this would be fun (and even convinced others to do it with me…). Just waiting for that post-marathon bliss, where, one, I will be able to say I did it, and two and I will be able to delete that stupid app. Apologies for the lengthy moan. Four weeks today…