28. June 2014

It's a long road: Marathon through Hyde Park

How is it to run a marathon? Having asked me this question often enough, I decided to settle the matter and run laps in Hyde Park until I either give up or finish. No starter fees. Without time limit. Lessons learnt from a long journey.

It all began with a discussion in a restaurant. At one time in this discussion, I claimed I would probably be able to run and finish a marathon, even if it took me a while. I regretted saying this – everybody can claim anything, but at the end of the day, such a claim needs to be tested with an experiment.

On the following weekend, I packed a bottle of water and a few cereal bars into my backpack and set out for the run. No time limit, just with the promise that I would either give up or only stop at traffic lights or for eating and drinking. I also promised myself to give up if my body showed signs of fatigue apart from tired muscles, and to take it easy. There is no need to take unnecessary risks.

After 4:18 h, I finally finished. The take-away messages were:

  • I need more than three cereal bars in order not to become jealous of the picknickers in Hyde Park.
  • Running alone is totally different experience of running in a race with dozens, hundreds, or thousands of other people – nobody keeps quietly telling you to continue. And nobody cheers at you either. Still fun – well, at times at least.
  • Hyde Park is a suitable venue for such a venture due to the trails (and grass).
  • Toenails are at risk, possibly even more than when playing football.
  • The small backpack did not bother me much.
  • The last 10k were really tough, no matter how slow the pace.
  • Running a marathon without entering a race is a real bargain.

I’m sure a quick web search would have revealed all of this, but sometimes there is no replacement for experiencing it yourself. I won’t repeat it anytime soon as it takes some time to fully recover.