Why Run a Marathon?

This is the question most of the people I know asked me, when I first announced I wanted to run one. Having completed (only just) a half marathon at the age of 18.

Since then I have had a very on-off relationship with running, more off then on. Briefly taking it up in an attempt to get fit and/or lose weight.

Three years ago, a friend and colleague Ronan and I managed to talk each other into entering the London 10K Bupa Featbeat (as it was known then), and we even started to train together during work lunchtimes and then individually over the weekend. We embarked upon an 8 week fairly easy training schedule, and we both wanted to complete the race in under an hour. The first couple of weeks of training were pretty hard as I had not done any kind of running for a number of years, but I was soon running solid for 30 minutes. We gently built this up to 45 minutes and then 2 weeks before the race managed to run or or less 10K to give the confidence. On race day, despite Ronan being somewhat fitter than me, we ran together and finished it in 56:30 and were both pleased as we had achieved our goal (I am still convinced Ronan could have ran it quicker, if he had gone at his own pace).

After that we both entered the Windsor Half Marathon, which Ronan carried on training for, but I unfortunately seemed to just lose motivation. So Ronan ran that one alone.

The next year, 2005, my wife got pregnant and in the November we had a beautiful son Sam. Unfortunately he was born with a genetic heart defect, and as a result in 2006 he underwent 4 lots of surgery, I am pleased to say that he is in good health now and brings me joy every day. Needless, to say it was a pretty difficult year and at the end of it as Sam started to get better, I decided 2007 would be a better year, so I decided I would get fit again and make sure I looked after my own health, so that I could always be there for Sam.

Back in March, Ronan and I managed to persuade each other to run the BUPA 10K London Great Run, this was ideal for me as it gave me the motivation to start running again. So I downloaded a 10 week training schedule, as I was already able to run 4/5 miles on the treadmill at the gym, I decided to try a harder training schedule.

I think having a more structured training schedule really helped me to keep motivation, as I was now training on my own (Ronan and I now worked in different offices). The first long run was a 6 miler, which straight away gave me the confidence to run 10K. I also learnt about different types of running e.g. speedwork, tempo runs, endurance runs, recovery runs. I also started learning about what foods I should eat before and after running (particularly longer runs). Before I knew it, I was really enjoying running, and finding motivation was not a problem. Ronan and I managed to do a training run together a few weeks before the race, a reasonably quick 4 miles. For the first time I was able to match Ronan for pace and also hold a (albeit fairly limited) conversation with him.

This was proof that I was now fitter than I had been since I was 18. The week before the race, very much aware that when we had run the same race 3 years back, straight after I just stopped running. I entered myself for the Burnham Half Marathon some 5 weeks later. I was already running 9/10 miles in training. On race day itself July 15th, once again, we ran it in 56:30, I must admit, I was quite disappointed as I had hoped to run quicker. But it is a very popular event and it was pretty crowded most of the way round the course.

With the Half Marathon looming fast, I then started talking about entering the Flora London Marathon, as I knew applications opened in August, at the same time I became aware that COSMIC (Children of St Mary’s Intensive Care) St Mary’s is where Sam had undergone 2 of his operations and had been in intensive care after the second one (which happened to be his last operation, November 2006), had 10 golden places on the FLM 2008.

So at the beginning of August I filled out my ballot application for the London Marathon and then a few weeks later I filled out my application for the COSMIC place. In the meantime I completed my first half marathon since I was 18 in just over 2 hours, I was well chuffed.

Last month I received confirmation that I had secured one of COSMIC’s golden places, I was absolutely over the moon. Not only could I have the chance to achieve a long standing goal, but I could now have the chance to say thank you to the staff at St Mary’s Intensive Care and give a little something back.

Needless to say I have started my training and fundraising, please visit www.justgiving.com/keithbadman if you would like to donate and www.cosmiccharity.com if you would like to find out more about COSMIC. Last week, I found out that I had also got a ballot place on the Marathon, so even better news as COSMIC can now let someone else run under their Golden Place and hence raise even more money.

So why run a marathon? Need I say more?

Please feel free to visit my blog which I will be updating with my training diary and sharing my joy, fear, pain and general madness as I continue on my journey towards my first Marathon.

Keith Badman, amateur running, http://www.myrunning-blog.com

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