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Was your first marathon measured in miles or smiles?

by Editor
Thursday 18th April 2013

Race report: Tracey Moggeridge shares the experience of her first marathon - 2013 Brighton Marathon, April 14, 2013

Races, they are measured in miles surely? That’s what I thought too, until I ran my first marathon this weekend – Brighton.

However, after a wickedly buzz-inducing conversation with my run club coach; the small yet mighty Kirsty Reade, I committed the unholiest of running sins and turned on its head my carefully crafted race-plan for finishing within a time. Gasp. I KNOW. Gone was my quest (I tried to deny it, but it was there) for finishing around the 4.30 mark, and instead I chose to focus this marathon on my people, the fabulous souls who tirelessly support my sometimes grumpy-pre-race-jittery-self. I’ll let you into a secret…I felt liberated! Not to run for a time? Madness right? Nope, best decision I ever made. AND I got my time 4.34.

Running has taught me incredible and often surprising lessons over the last couple of years. It’s a team sport, did you know that? Sure, we all eat up the miles on our own, but you are never ‘alone’. Think of those folk you pass by on the weekly grind; other runners that give you a knowing wink, grimace, or smile – a moment shared. The cheeky retiree who spiritedly challenges you to a race-off at the traffic lights with his walking stick; the children in the park trying to out-run you on their bikes; the dogs that tangle with your ankles as they try to gallop…all tongues & slobber beside you. All are spurring you on – your support team.

Race-day is no different. Show me a runner who doesn’t have someone in the crowd, be it friend, family, twitter-fam, work colleague, run club buddy, or random stranger who catches and exchanges a heart-felt look and wills you forever forward, to your goal.

Tracey Moggeridge shares the experience of her first marathon - 2013 Brighton Marathon, April 14, 2013

I’ve a band of wonderful friends and family who’d travelled down to cheer me on. Most of whom are not runners, and so I’m sure they won’t mind me speaking on their behalf and surmising that the concept of running for a ‘time’ warrants a bemusing yet gracious acknowledgement, yet without full-grasp that two minutes can make ALL the ruddy difference between AWESOME and failure. However, what was just as important to me was to say thank you to them for being there. Sometimes words just aren’t enough. When someone has chosen to support me by turning up to a race, it means they kinda (crazily) want to see me do well, that interaction with their loved one is going to make them feel good too. They want you to know you’ve seen them! They want you to know they are there willing you forward to achieving your dream.

Someone told me once that to offer another a compliment, and for the recipient to casually dismiss it as daft or unwarranted means you are preventing the giver from their good karma. I kind of felt that to run this race, but not to take the time out to stop and say thank you and hi to my loved ones would feel a little like that.

There will most definitely be many more races, there will be other marathons I can fly solo and run for a time, but this one, this one was for family and friends as much as it was for me.

So I chose to approach Brighton by family and friend markers (hilariously noisy affairs with much hollering, arm waving, screaming and all-round grin-inducing moments of joy), wine-gum exchanges with wee small folk on the side lines, high-fives and hollers, shared moments of fellow racers joy and pain, exchanges of smiles, pats on the back, shouts of ‘go Moggers’. Could a race be any richer? I’m not sure it could. I feel deeply lucky that I’m able to sit here today, weary legs but full to bursting with elation at completing the race. A huge dream come true, folk like me don’t run marathons…well blow me down, they do!

I measured the race with gratitude, is the best way I can describe it. So touched by surprise supporters who kept quiet their cheekily crafted plans to cheer I and fellow run-club members on – EILEEN, you had to be mentioned here, you ROCK; fact. The world needs to know what an awesome thing that was and how massively your sunshine spirit was felt all the way through the race. The run club back home who I know where charting mine and the other guys from the club’s progress on the mobile app and sharing our journey with fellow running buddies – wishing us well.

Family and friends who chased us all over the course, appearing like cheery and such welcome and wonderful visions amidst a sea of faces. Twitter family, some seen for the first time in the flesh, hugs exchanged and vuvuzelas blown.

Tracey Moggeridge shares the experience of her first marathon - 2013 Brighton Marathon, April 14, 2013

The random fella, lost in a reverie who glanced up to catch my weary 22mile-eye, and who burst into a spontaneous grin, much clapping and shouts of encouragement.

It meant that those 26.2 miles were an utter joy, with uplifting moments from start to finish, when I needed them, when I didn’t even expect them.

With the terrible and tragic events of Boston so painfully felt by all the running community, I feel with somewhat shameful guilt so very lucky that nobody took away my dream and the good feelings that accompanied it. I’m hugely grateful for that. It was just as coach-Kirsty said it would be; a day that will never be forgotten, you only get to run your first marathon the once, and it truly was one of the best days of my life. I’m so sorry for those in Boston who never got to feel that joy. But I truly hope for those who can, they race more races with a ‘screw you’ approach to all those people who try but fail to win the war against love, and peace.

So, to all those fellow race-goers at the end, in dusty heaps of tangled medals, discarded banana skins, hastily strewn trainers, dazed looks, tears, hugs, laughter…lost in quiet moments of reflection. Thank you for your company; it was an incredible shared experience. I felt like I belonged to something so earthily honest, energising, and amazing. The impact of which will be carried with me forever.

Oh and lastly, but it’s important - to the technical stuff; the course is a joy! It’s fast in places, flat in many, a few steady inclines, a couple of slightly desolate moments but not long enough for your spirits to drop. Oh, and wonderful marshals and organisers, it was faultlessly crafted, beautifully considerate to runners and spectators alike, Brighton, you rocked, I will so be back.


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