On Sunday I stood in the sun and supported runners at the Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon and inaugural 10-mile races. I applauded and cheered at various points on the race route. Yes, I too ran between spots, did some supporting, and then ran on to the next – some friends even got a bit confused at my magic reappearance trick!
The Yorkshire marathon was a long-term goal for my girlfriend Rose. She’d been injured since March. During the initial-medium-term recovery phase the ‘hurty-hurty’ tendon was as much an obvious, physical battle as the inevitable lack of endorphins, and the blurred or hidden effects from resultant low moods. We likely all know of other runners who’ve either had an injury or are still out, possibly sulking beyond the sidelines. A fellow Pacer described this best, as a visceral, pack mentality that leaves behind the broken, young, weak or sick. I’ve been fortunate: never out for any length of time, and *touch wood * not seriously injured.
So, while waiting for Rose (and running friends) I cheered and cajoled those that looked jiggered and weary. Some glared back with glazed eyes, and a look that suggested I didn’t know how it felt – legs saying stop and a brain with an over-ride button, repeatedly pressed. And pain regularly ignored. Only weeks before I’d gone through the same endurance and similar feelings of anguish and then ecstasy. I knew exactly how it felt.
Good diagnosis on the tendon injury and a recovery plan (almost truthfully complied with) enabled Rose to start the marathon. How she fared was still a bit of the unknown. It was an opportunity for me to show solidarity. I know that I’ve got the right stuff to complete a gnarly fell race, but not sure I’d have the necessary mettle and resilience required during injury recovery. During Rose’s recovery I’m not sure how supportive I really was?
Her physical and mental strength mustn’t be overlooked. Courage is as much about successful outcomes as it is about the battles to get there. I was super proud to see her smiling at mile 25 and head off, down the Hull Road, towards the finish. Yes, maybe not finishing in a time with which she is content, but – much like other marathon runners on the day – the hard graft was all in the training; the race, and the finish line celebration, is just the tip of the iceberg.
Running has so much good to offer. In absence I’ve witnessed running can also be negative. Resilience might be more easily seen during a hill session or when running in foul weather. But it is just as evident inside the minds of the injured: at home, on the sofa, alone. Maybe, as runners, we all need to pause and remember to wait for the ones who’ve temporarily strayed away from the pack.
Photo: Anne Akers