Lessons from the Madrid Marathon

This was my first full marathon and I couldn’t help but think how a marathon mirrors the journey of life. I set a target of 3hrs 45 mins going in – I figured why not aim for the stars and end up in the skies. Same way we set a target in life and work towards it. At the beginning of the race I am suffering with a bit of a cold which I had developed over the past few days and it is cold and drizzling – but I am full of energy and rationalize the weather as being cooler and less humid than Lagos so I will definitely improve my running time on this marathon versus Lagos. Here are my lessons from the Madrid marathon. Lesson one is when life throws you lemons, look at the upside and make lemonade.

I start my race and even though it’s all uphill I am literally flying for the first 5km with a pace that would mean I could finish at 3hrs 30mins. At some point Seydou “the Gazelle”, the fastest man in our group catches up with me and I figure if I am ahead of him I am going too fast so I rein myself in, reducing my speed so there is some left in the tank and I coast for the next 20km. Lesson two – You start the race of life with lots of energy, ability and passion. However you must run Your own race and no one else’s. Know your capabilities and what you are ready for. You must keep lots in reserve so you don’t burn out too early when things get rough.

At about km 10 my friend Femi “The Force” catches up with me and I run with him in my sights for a while – he is one of the strongest runners in our group. Then by km 15 the rain gets heavier and it gets colder – so yet again life isn’t playing ball and keeps throwing lemons. Do you therefore abort your venture? No you make a plan and press on regardless of the conditions.

Around km26 I still have the 3hrs 45 mins pacer in my sights, until my feet did like Rosa Parks did and said Nah, I ain’t moving. It felt like a knife under my right foot. My hamstrings joined in the party and cramped up and I was in serious pain, must have been the cold. So I walked for a while and was pushed out of the way by annoyed spaniards who called me caberone (asshole) and other such terms of endearment. The way I felt, I would have walked the whole 17kms back! First at some point a black dude who I didn’t know tapped me on the back and said come on bro you can do it, and that kept me going for another 5kms. Then a group of pretty ladies in the crowd read my bib and shouted come on Flash so that gave me another spurt of energy. Then I had my epiphany and through the pain in my foot and hamstring, I suddenly had a moment of clarity and realized that all of the pain I was feeling couldn’t stop me on this race. I had trained for four months and I was ready for it, even if I hadn’t trained in a cold wet weather. And then I knew I didn’t need a friendly “bro” or a group of cheerleaders as all the energy I needed was within me. So at that point, which was at about km 38 I started running again. Shortly after I caught up with The Force and ran just behind him until km 41, planning how I would overtake him at that point and finish before him. Then he told me he couldn’t go any further and was going to call for a doctor. All thoughts of competition were gone and I literally pushed him to the finish line. Lesson– life will always add another twist to your plan – be prepared to modify and respond appropriately.

Finally we finished and got our medals and then the cold set in. I thought I was going to pass out in the freezing pouring rain. My friend was in a worse state and I thought he was actual going into a coma. Swore I would never ever do this again! We literally had to get a jacket from a stranger and walked the (only) one km to our hotel in 45 mins! After a hot shower I am mentally ready to do another marathon. My nose is dripping and my body will take much longer to recover! Lesson – impossible is nothing!