Monday, 18 April 2011
“The ultimate measure of a person is not where they stand in moments of comfort, but where they stand in times of challenge.”
Martin Luther King
This was kindly sent to me by a very close friend just before I started the Marathon on Sunday morning and on the 16th mile, it was this quote that spurred me on to push for a 8min 30sec mile between miles 16 and 17. So, as you may have guessed ladies and gentlemen, I definitely started the London Marathon (regular readers have endured me boring them to tears with my build up to the big day!). So what happened after mile 17? Well, I’ll tell you at the end of the blog. The clue may be in the title though.
The heaven part of this week began in Germany at the world famous and historic Nurburgring. Built in the Twenties, but modified many times, the “Nordschliefe” was nicknamed The Green Hell by Jackie Stewart and is widely considered the toughest, most dangerous, and most demanding purpose-built racing circuit in the world. And Jaguar were stupid, I’m sorry, I mean kind enough to let me lose on it for 10 glorious laps of the 22km course. It’s something every petrol head dreams of doing once in their life and, thanks to Jaguar I got to drive in each and every wonderful car in the range - with top drivers and experts instructing me from a car in front.
Wow, what a car company and brand Jaguar are becoming. I wrote an article 18 months ago on how I thought, without the restraints of Ford ownership, just what a sleeping giant it is - and they are proving me right (smug grin). Their cars pretty much top all the car categories they enter into. The engines, engineering expertise, chassis set up, use of lightweight aluminum and design, are as advanced and astounding as you will find in the industry. The history of the company is also virtually unrivalled. Hollywood stars such as Steve McQueen driving the XKSS, the Jaguar E type, Le Mans 1-2-3 wins - they have it all and it’s British (aren’t all the best things? Hmmmmm).
Back to the Marathon. My time for the 13th mile was 1h 50, which I was happy with and, although hard going (it was a very warm day), I had a good rhythm. My refueling was going well, the injured knees and calf muscles were holding up well and then - disaster. On the 17th mile, both my thighs cramped up - something I’ve never suffered from before or had thought about. I tried stretching, more hydration, even having a leg massage by the wonderful St Johns ambulance - but to no avail. All I could do was walk and run a little from then, but with running the cramping and pain got even worse. So I finished in 4hrs 34mins which was a little disappointing and you know what this means - I’m going to have to go through it all again and get a better time!
Thank you to all of you who have supported and sponsored the Oxglam group. The real inspiration on the day though are the amount of people who turn up to support and cheer and give the runners jelly babies (this was my favourite part). But also just the grit, determination and guile of fellow runners, from PC David Rathband who is blind and ran it, to a guy who ran the entire race backwards. Amazing. Also a quick mention to fellow VOGUE.COM blogger Henry Holland, who completed it in what I heard was 3hs 30m. Well done Sir!
Quick fashion/style reference. While watching a programme about Margaret Thatcher, what held my attention was the amazingly attired gentlemen in the background of all the TV clips. It turns out that his name is Gordon Reece and he was political strategist to ‘Maggie’ in 1979. Now that’s how an English gentlemen should dress, quite brilliant, men take note!
Now, leaving two hours earlier than I usually would, I’m off to the airport. My legs and muscles will only allow me to waddle at a very slow pace today.