Mark Buffery London Marathon 2010




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Standing outside on a warm day after just watching the London marathon in May 2008 with a glass of wine and a cigarette, I said to my wife, that could be me completing the marathon next year. Anyway after 2 mins of laughter she passed me the ashtray and I put out my fag remembering how fit I used to be 25 years ago when I ran seriously.

Anyway I put in my application through the ballot to enter the marathon for 2009 and in October I got the magazine for saying that I was not successful, however I tried again for 2010 and to my amazement I got a magazine saying congratulations which I was totally shocked. I stood outside blowing smoke rings with my cigarette really excited but apprehensive of the work ahead to accomplish this. I actually bought some nicorette patches and an inhaler to try to give up a 20 a day habit I had had for over 20 years. It was hard but I was intent to keep training and joined the Hamworthy Harriers to give me inspiration as I was a member of the Hamworthy club anyway.

Training was very cold in the winter and something I had never done for 20 years, my mind was still set when I completed my last race for Dorset at Chesterfield in the nationals and I believed that I could still carry on from where I left off. OH how I was wrong!, 25 years of smoking and drinking affected my breathing and for the first time since I was a colt, I did not seem invincible and had to realign my expectations. It was difficult but I had to face up to new goals in a different era. Training was OK but breathing was hampering me due to neglect of my body over the ¼ century and living the high life had taken the toll, so I decided to enter my first race which was the Lytchett 10, I did not know what to expect and didn’t even know the course, so finishing in 1.08.07 was a big achievement and a massive step forward for me.

The day after the race I decided to go jogging on Canford Heath still on a high after the race and this eventually ended me for 10 months as I pulled a hamstring under my right buttock. This was the end for me and I basically quit running after seeing the specialist and having the famous cortisone injection to put me right. Ten months out and guess what, started smoking again and wasn’t too long before on 20 a day again.

October 2010 I was still struggling a bit with my hamstring and went for a MRI scan and again another cortisone injection which actually worked the 2nd time around, brilliant I could actually start training again, problem is I was till smoking and drinking which didn’t help.
31st Dec 2010 was my last fag and as I watched a Chinese lantern across the sky I said to myself that is my last one, but this time I will go cold turkey and no patches.

I started training and with the Harriers found the motivation for not going back to the cigarettes with running on a Monday and Friday, I was determined this time to conquer my demons. I did it and although the preparation for the marathon was hampered by injuries I was in Pen 2, yes Pen 2 . Gerrard was gutted as he was in Pen 3 and couldn’t believe how I was there, I was in the middle at the start with south Africans and so pleased I was even at the start line.

The horn went off and I was on my way, the sheer volume of people was frightening as you could not move, after about 6 miles you could actually start striding out. I was averaging around the 8.10 min mile mark as my goal was around the 3.30 mark. I was going really well waving across tower bridge to everyone and reaching half way in around 1.46 which I was happy with as the negative split was going to move me to the 3.30 mark.

18 miles was the downfall and I hit the wall harder than a rhino in the wild. I struggled with walking and jogging and nearly gave up with the 8 miles left ahead of me. The only thing I was thinking about was my friends and my charity Julia’s House who I was running for and running in their vest gave me inspiration to carry on. All I can remember for the next 7 miles was seeing the 600 metres to go mark and I think this made me feel even worse as I know it is a lap and a half around a running track. I eventually passed the line in a disappointing 3.51.25 ( I will always remember that time ) to complete the marathon.
Although I was a bit disappointed with the time, I was overcome with emotion at finishing a landmark and not letting my work colleagues down. I was so exhausted at the end, I nearly fell over when I got my medal and could not walk or move for about 8 days after, but I was so happy with my achievement, I decided to carry on running . When I eventually got over this race and I am still going and also 8 months smoke free as well! Not bad for a has been!!!