It was a normal phone call from my sister. We just talked about the normal stuff which had happened in our week and then she asked if I wanted to join her. Of course the answer was going to be yes. If she needed some help, I would be the first to step up to the plate and help her out and take any challenge together. Then she told me what she wanted help with and I instantly regretted my instinctive reaction.
Would you help me complete a marathon? Yes, why not. Then it sinks in, I just said yes to running a marathon and not just running a marathon but running one with someone else and having to run at their pace.
This threw up two issues, firstly running a mere twenty-six miles without dying and adjusting my running pace to meet that of my sister. That is my sister who happens to be about a foot shorter than me and has a much shorter stride length.
The best thing was that our schedules didn’t manage to match for any training runs in the six months beforehand except for one weekend. So in the six months before our marathon, we would only get to run ten miles together. The run would be my only time to get my stride length to match hers and our paces to match.
I started out on the treadmill so I could monitor my times. I had to adjust from my natural eight-minute-thirty mile and slow this down to a tough ten-minute mile pace. To put that into perspective, if I ran at my natural pace, I could stop after an hour and wait for nearly ten minutes before my sister would be with me and we would be doing that for nearly five hours.
If I did that, it would just demoralise anyone. So that was not an option, what was an option was slowing down my running. It was a weird feeling to go to the gym and to try to run slowly, to try and go less distance in an hour. I tried to go slow straight away and it immediately hurt, so I turned the speed back up. I learnt to cut it down by point one of an mph per session. The slow regression hurt a lot less than the sudden cut.
Six months later and we are at the start line, both of us worried but knowing that we will be making it to the finish line no matter what. The finish line was not an option, we were carrying each other if it came to that. It didn’t and we smashed the five hour target time. She did incredibly well, I merely ran along and picked up water and gels all the time for her, but we passed this challenge together.
It felt good to be able to help her through her trial, God knows that she’s helped me through mine time and time again. That is what families are for, taking on a challenge together and smashing it!