10:10am and the whistle blows and the crowd erupts with cheers and whoops.
10:45 myself and the rest of my group cross the start line and the cacophony of running watches beep as we all start our timers.
All the training
All the miles
All the sweat and tears
All the cold nights
All the cold mornings
All the shoes and running gear
All the extra calories eaten
All the nights out not drinking alcohol
All the mud and all the struggles had finally brought me to this moment in time
April 28th 2019 – The London Marathon for me, had officially started.
My plan was to break the race down into 5-mile segments in order to make it more manageable. This was my second marathon but with 19 years between them this I felt way more prepared for. I’d run further in training; I’d run up more mountains and got my body stronger and understood more what was needed.
5 miles down and heading towards Cutty Sark as the first landmark.
The roar of the crowds, my name being called out cheering me on.
More miles under my feet as I headed onwards.
Checking my watch to make sure I was on pace with the plan to finish in sub 5 hours and so far, so good.
'...the miles now slowed down and my pace slipped off...'
Mile 13 and Tower bridge finally loomed into view and only 2 more miles and I would be at 15 miles and another 5 off the distance for me then it was only a matter of another 5 then once at 20 miles it was a simple 10k (6.2 miles) left, mad maths but that’s how I break a run like this down. It’s better than looking at it as one huge mileage, better to chunk it down into bitesize pieces.
I’d been drinking my water from my running pack and taking my gel packs at 5-mile stages and then as I crossed over the bridge my energy seemed to drop off.
I started to not feel so great. I ignored the feelings and just carried on, one foot in front of the other. Reminding myself that I’d done all the training including a very hard 27 miler the year before in Wales in March and with lots of hills and a hell of a lot of mud so a Marathon on the flat was sort of easy right, or so I’d planned in my head.
My body was starting to ache with all the constant pounding on the concrete.
My kidneys started to feel sore too, maybe that was because the gel packs I’d found out the night before were about 7 months out of date. Maybe it was something else or maybe it was just timing who knows but as the miles now slowed down and my pace slipped off, I forced myself onwards and hoping to get a cheer from the charity supporters I was running for which always gave me a good boost.
I ran past another juice station the road all sticky with the contents of the bottles and the sound of the shoes pulling themselves up from the road.
“F### this Simon, get your arse in gear!"
Mile 20 appeared and my body ached all over, my shoulders, my hips, lower back and legs I came to a stop and simply stood there with hands on hips trying to stretch my back out to relieve the discomfort and stretch out my legs my body now feeling the chill. “Bloody hell!” I shouted in my head this was not how I wanted it to be.
People came over to pat me on the back and tell me I could do it and to motivate me to get going again. I had to dig deep. “F### this Simon, get your arse in gear!" I instructed myself. There was never a question of me not finishing, the only question was if I would be able to run, walk or crawl over the finish line because I was now feeling like a wrung-out rag.
All my plans had fallen apart, even with the crowds cheering me on it was a hard task. So, after another few miles and now at mile 23 I had to stop again. I stood for a moment to compose myself, get my head together and also stretch my now very aching legs out. I took a deep breath and told myself that this Marathon wasn’t going to break me. I had this, albeit in pain, feeling sick and now with a bloody headache but I had this.
Only 3.2 miles to go, the same distance as a park run. Easy peasy.
But oh boy 3.2 miles felt like another marathon. My speed really slow now, almost a shuffle, I might as well have been wearing slippers. The crowds cheering louder as we approached the next mile marker. 2.2 miles to go.
I’ve got this, I can do this I kept telling myself. Mind over matter.
Another mile but it now felt even more of a struggle but I kept my focus .
Only 1.2 miles to go. “Come on Simon!” another supporter shouted at me.
Then Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament came into view. The sense of relief was overwhelming knowing that it was almost over.
Then the 800 metres sign appeared as I now tried to pick up my pace.
“Finish strong,” I told myself. I’ve got this but boy oh boy this felt like the longest 800 metres ever. One foot in front of the other and stay strong. Body aching all over and legs felt like led. Then finally I turned the corner and there in my sights was the finish line and only now 365 yards to go as the sign told me. Why they went from metres to yards I’m not sure but with a sudden last-ditch attempt to dig up some energy from somewhere. I managed to force myself to pick up the pace for the final section. I could feel it, taste it, that time to finally stop. Heart pounding, legs pumping and then finally I crossed the finish line of the London Marathon 2019 at 5 hrs. 37 mins and 41 seconds, almost 2 hours slower than my last time but I had finished and I won’t repeat my first words as I crossed the line but it rhymes with ‘clucking bell’.
I had done it, that’s all that mattered to me now. I had finished the long and painful run that I’d been training so hard for. Thank f### for that!!!
“don’t wish it was easier, wish you were stronger!”
So, what, you might add does this all have to do with business and coaching. 2 Points really!
First point is about winning (or completing in my case) and I knew I would cross the line. There was never any doubt in my mind. I had been picturing for ages, programming the scene in my mind of me having finished and standing to hold the medal and it had now all come to an end. I had done it. This was down to self-belief and mindset. You see you cannot start a business without a winning mindset. Now I never run a race with the aim of winning it because for me I just want to complete it and race against myself but over the years I’ve developed my mindset to be strong. To not easily back down when the going gets tough.
As the great late Jim Rohn once said, “don’t wish it was easier, wish you were stronger!”
As we all know to work for yourself is hard work and some days it can be bloody painful. Lack of funds, clients not paying on time, stress overload, sleepless nights and everything else that goes with running your own business. 4 words sum it all up ‘It Is Not Easy’. But my friend the rewards are amazing.
And now 6 days after completing it, I’m already thinking about my next big race. An Olympic Triathlon which starts in the sea around where I live which will be tough but I know I can do it.
So, my second point is about building resilience. Finishing the marathon is now stored in my mind as another example that I have it in me to finish something as painful as the marathon and I will pull this out when I need reminding that when the going gets tough that I can overcome whatever obstacle stands in my way.
I will use it as a reminder and it’s important to look back at times when you have overcome a challenge and celebrate the fact that you did. Remind yourself that you have the strength.
'...we’ve got to be prepared to push ourselves...'
Now we don’t all have to go mad and run marathons but getting out of your comfort zones is where the magic happens.
As my good friend, Jenny Flintoft once said “there is no stretch in the comfort zone and no comfort in the stretch zone”
In simple terms, if we want to grow, we’ve got to be prepared to push ourselves, develop the mindset and build resilience. Life isn’t easy and neither is business and that’s why not everyone does it. So if you’re reading this and going to start or have already started then my hat goes off to you and I know you’ve got this. Dig deep and keep going my friend.
As a P.S I’ve since discovered that I had the onset of shingles so no wonder it all went wrong. Onwards and skywards.
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