Monday, April 7, 2008

David runs St Louis Marathon
in 4.05.27.

Well, after 19 weeks of training, running over 875 miles in sun, rain, hail and snow, the big day finally arrived.

It was 5.00 a.m. and the alarm was buzzing, just like my mind had been all night! I got up and showered and scrapped the plan to eat because it just did not feel right. So, bag packed, kit on and pre race photos taken, it was off to the Metrolink station for the 15 min journey to the start.

On arrival at the start location at around 6.35 a.m., the atmosphere was impressive. The announcer was in full voice, thousands of runners were arriving, and the backdrop of the St Louis Arch made for a memorable moment.

The wheelchair participants started proceedings at 6.55 a.m., which was followed by the gun blast at 7.00 a.m. to release the elite runners. This 50 year old crock took 6/7 minutes to get to the starting line as the field of runners was over 15,000 strong!

The first 6 miles directed us out of downtown St Louis and around the Anheuser Busch brewery, then back into town. For the majority of the early stages my thoughts were preoccupied trying to avoid the heels of the jogging throng. Now fully warmed up and into my stride, I found myself being carried along at a brisk tempo, running at around 8mins30 per mile pace. The 10 mile mark flashed past and we entered the park where we were to encounter a succession of hills. I maintained the pace through the park and as the halfway mark arrived the clock read 1.47.00. I was a full 13 minutes ahead of my target finish time of 4.00.00.

We passed Washington University and moved on into Clayton. More steep hills, a right turn onto Delmar with more hills - this was when things began to unravel! At 17 miles I began to feel real discomfort, my legs burned like fire. I struggled on, slowed in pace and walked at water stations. I knew that a return to the park represented a mere 6 miles to the finish, and I channeled my energies towards reaching that milestone. I was convinced that achieving this mini-goal would provide the boost I needed to finish the course. Survival became my new mantra, as thoughts of running 3.40.00 were quickly banished.

As we revisited the park we are greeted by the Youth Orchestra, on reflection a very serene experience, but at that moment it did not enter my conscience. A new ambition emerged, ‘get to the end of the park and only 3 miles to go, easy’. I checked the time every 20 seconds and gave serious contemplation to the prospect of achieving the original sub-4 hours target, all I needed to do was run each of the remaining 3 miles in under 10 minutes!

My legs felt like they did not belong to my body now. They became incapable of successfully navigating any hill at pace, which left me with no choice but to walk the inclines. Two miles to go, I craved water! One mile to go, I was now adamant I would finish, but my time of 4.00.00 had slipped away. With 400 yards left to run I was offered a cold beer at the water station. I attempted to swallow but ended up spilling it all over my shirt. At this late stage I could not rely on my coordination.

I rounded the final corner and the finish line loomed into sight, only 50 yards to go. I relaxed and tried to look good for my photos!!!

I clicked off the stop watch and glanced down, revealing a time of 4.05.00 (unofficial). I HAD DONE IT. I had run in and finished my first marathon. Suddenly my legs felt like mine again.

David Carruthers 7th April 2008

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

CONGRATULATIONS on this wonderful achievement. I am proud of you and continue to learn from your determination and discipline. Please receive a warm greeting from this little country of mine.