Mike Carrington.....First Marathon.

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Sports  |  House: Booksie Classic
Many ordinary sane people have run marathons. Through a combination of circumstances, Mike found himself standing on the starting line of his first marathon having done almost no training! Don't try this! Just read and feel the pain!

Submitted: December 25, 2011

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Submitted: December 25, 2011



MIKE CARRINGTON.......First Marathon!....

Mike Carrington AKA Mike Barry, singer/guitarist and guitar teacher has many other interests, some of them sporting. Many years ago he was a useful distance runner and competed at all distances from 1500m to the marathon. They were interesting times. After his best running days were over, he trained others to run and race. It was 29 years ago that he ran in his first marathon. This is a brief account of that race from his perspective. It's flashback time, Mike!.............

On a cold damp morning in March 1982, I stood shivering on the starting line of the Coast of China marathon. We were all shivering. It was 6.30 am and there was rain in the air. I looked around at the several hundred other people who were trying to keep warm using various methods. They were jogging, jumping up and down, flailing themselves (and each other!) with their arms and indulging in hugging. I didn't feel like jogging, jumping or flailing and I had no-one to hug as my girlfriend at the time wasn't there. She just said "Good luck, Mikey, take it easy!" I wasn't amused! There were two Filipina air hostesses from Cathay Pacific, complete with full makeup, chatting with all and sundry, . They thought it was going to be a bit of fun! After the start I never saw them again. I briefly thought about quietly sliding away and going home. That thought was very brief. I had to go through with this thing come what may. Just then we heard heard the voice of the starter calling us to the starting line for a final pep talk. He looked cheerful and made jokes. Nobody laughed. I hung back and made sure I was nowhere near the fit runners who would go hard from the start. I needed something to wake me up, so I smiled at the two air hostesses. They smiled back. That gave me a little bit of encouragement, although I realised that smiling was their business! BANG!! The starters gun woke us all up. We were off! As I was running, my mind wandered. Why was I here?.........

*****THE MARATHON. It's a race.....26 miles 385 yards or 42.195 km. That's a long way. Why would any ordinary sane person want to run it? Well, many do. The object of the first marathon is to finish in one piece. One's first marathon is like one's first love. Never to be forgotten.This is the story of my first marathon.*****

The idea of me running a marathon was first mooted in late 1981 after I had done a few shorter races including a half marathon. I was sitting with a running friend in the YMCA having one of their cheapo breakfasts. He suddenly said to me "Why don't you do a marathon?" I shrugged and said I'd give it some thought. He then looked me in the eye and smiled "Five hundred bucks says you won't do it!" In 1981 $500 went a lot further than it does today. I foolishly rose to the challenge, "Ok, you got it!" That surprised him. "Just one thing more," he continued, "you must do it in under 5 hours!" ...."No problem," I heard my mouth say,"I'll make it." So Gary and I shook hands, and $500 was on the line. I realised later that my insane habit of taking up challenges had really landed me in it this time. But hey, I was single and unattached. Well, not seriously. If I dropped dead during the race, I really wouldn't be missed.

It came to pass that during December of that year, I moved from the YMCA out to Lamma Island. The move rather ruined my training and I forgot that the race was in March. I was also working for the U.N.H.C.R. in Kowloon and that job took most of my energy. Time passed. Suddenly March appeared. I had done nothing. Now I panicked. I could see $500 leaving my wallet, and I actually hadn't got it anyway. I went out for an easy 5 mile run. This was my sole preparation for one of the most daunting races in the world. Now let us return to the race...........

...........The first few miles didn't seem to be too hard, so I did a foolish thing. I started to run faster. As I overtook a runner I knew from a previous race he said " Slow down, Mike, there's a long way to go." I foolishly replied, "I'm fine, don't bother about me!" We passed the 10 mile mark and I was now beginning to feel a bit weary. So I slowed down and walked for a short distance. A voice from behind said "I told you so!" It was my adviser from a few miles back. He was right. Time went by and so, so slowly did the miles. We went past the 15 mile mark and I felt like dying! I had already gone further than ever before and there were still 11 miles to go! My right leg had seized solid and my left leg was trying to follow it. I scarcely noticed the other runners going by me. Then I felt a slight pain in my nipples. I looked down and saw that they were both bleeding. Twin streams of blood could be seen on my running vest. (I had forgotten to tape them up as all experienced runners do). I must admit to using some bad language. Under my breath, of course. Swearing out loud wasn't so fashionable then.

We went past the 20 mile mark. A moment later I fell to the ground. No part of my body seemed to want to work anymore. I was a mass of pain such as I had never known. I got to my feet and continued to make slow progress. A bad headache had now suddenly appeared to add to my problems. The pain actually helped in a way, as it's difficult to think of falling asleep when you're in agony! When I got to the next water stop, I drank copiously and poured the rest over my head in a desperate attempt to revive myself. I continued onwards. To this day I really don't know what kept me going. Possibly the thought of losing $500? I fell yet again, and this time my head slammed into the ground. As I staggered to my feet I heard someone say, "Look, that guy's bleeding!" Yippee, someone noticed! Yes, I was bleeding. And, as you may know, head wounds always appear worse than they are. The blood was pouring down the right side of my face. It attracted much attention. Now I really did look a total wreck. Someone ran alongside me. "Are you alright?" he asked. "Yeah, no problem," I replied. I lied, but, strangely enough, this brief human contact helped to spur me on. Hey, folks, I'm wounded, but I'm still alive! I wiped some blood out of my eye and continued to press on, although my progress was painfully slow. The 'stitch' is another well-known running pain, I'd now got one of those as well. I mean, what else could happen? As I passed the 25 mile marker, I realised that there was only 1 mile left to go! My concentration lapsed and I tripped over another runner who had fallen. He looked in a bad way too, but he muttered to me "I'll make it!" as I apologised for falling over him. I could now see the finishing line approaching. The screaming crowds there were all the encouragement I (and many other sufferers) needed to get over that line. I looked wearily at my watch. It said 4 hours 44 minutes. I'd made it in time!... $500, where are you!?... We shakily lined up to get the coveted finishers T-shirt. (In those days, you had to finish to get this T-shirt. Unlike today when the T-shirt comes with your race number!) The race organiser, Andy Blunier, looked at my bloodied face and shirt and laughed. "You must have really wanted this T-shirt," he said with a grin.

I wandered around in a daze. Then Tony Gover (the guy responsible for starting the Round The Island Race now held every year) gave me two open cans of beer and in my dehydrated state I drank them! As I don't drink beer, they tasted like something unmentionable to me! I quickly went to the water station and drank as much as I could, then sat down at last on the grass. Sitting down without falling down was bliss! As I sat there, my running friend, Gary, appeared. His face was strangely unsmiling as he looked at me. "You bloody fool," he said icily. Not exactly the reaction I expected. He then tossed the $500 at me, turned and walked away. From friend to stranger in one swift sentence. I guess I had often wondered about him, and then I remembered something. The smile on his face when he issued the challenge. It wasn't a smile, it was more of a sneer. He didn't expect me to make it. Not only had I proved him wrong, I'd taken his money. A real sore loser!....He got a lift into town. I saw him only once again from a distance. I later heard that he had gone to South Africa. Friendship can be a transient thing. (I have occasionally wondered why we bother).  But then again, we all need friends. So ended my first marathon. Tony Gover gave my exhausted body a lift back to Hong Kong. He owed me that for giving me beer after the race! It took a week to get over this day of madness. Never again, I told everybody. I was wrong, of course. This was only the beginning..

*********** N.B. Mike went into strict training after this, and went on to run in 4 more marathons and numerous other races. He ran his personal best marathon time of 2 hours 47 minutes in 1987 before ending his marathon running days.





















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