Although I’ve run two marathons I have never actually witnessed one from the sidelines before today. However, today was Copenhagen Marathon day, and I didn’t have anything else in my calendar, so decided to head into town and provide some moral support to the 12,000 or so runners.

It really was a bit of an eye opener! For the most part when you are running yourself you are pretty focused on your own drama and otherwise on the backs of those in front of you. It is a totally different story when you witness it from the sidelines and get to see the participants face-on and also get more of a big picture overview of the whole thing, from the leaders to those bringing up the rear….

I also learned some things that I think I can use when I run my next marathon on 25 September.

One of the main things that struck me was how many runners seemed totally tense and stressed – their faces and their bodies – even the first time we saw them at the 6km mark! There were only a very few at that point who looked relaxed and as if they were actually enjoying themselves, and if you don’t feel relaxed and comfortable at 6km I dread to think how you feel at 36! We saw some runners again at 29 km, some at 32 and some at 36 and it was the same story. Some were totally closed in on themselves and but others, although clearly tired, were smiling or waving to the spectators and you could see that they reaction they got back gave them even more energy. Interestingly it was the same pattern whether they were fast runners going for under 3 hours or those looking at a time of more than 4 hours 30.

I have no idea how I have looked during the two marathons I ran, but I have decided that when I run in Berlin in September I am going to make a conscious effort to relax and smile and interact with the spectators. I suspect that if you force yourself to do that even when you feel overwhelmed, then you will feel better and get more energy. Hmm, a bit like getting through chemo I guess! But then again didn’t I previously liken getting through chemo to running a marathon????

I was also very inspired by spotting two people that I either know or know of today. Both fitted into the category of those who were smiling and interacting with the public and both were totally inspirational for different reasons.

One was my trainer, Bjarke Kobberø, from Running26 who was running his 4th marathon and had decided to experiment a bit by limiting the amount of training he did, eating a weird diet, running in a bright pink all-in-one and, most shocking of all, running the marathon today without a watch! I saw him 4 times and each time he was smiling and relaxed and still managed to run in a time of 2:43:27. Wow! Bjarke is a fantastic role model, though I’m hoping he isn’t going to force me to try any of his experiments in my training (OK, the pink outfit was quite cute…though not that practical if you need to pee…..).

The other inspiration was a blogger I follow called Sealegsgirl (have no idea what she is really called!) who I spotted at the 29km mark with her very cute pregnant tummy out in front. Yes, she was running the marathon today even though she is expecting a baby at the end of July! I have no idea what time she finished in (if she finished) since I don’t know her name, but she was looking happy and relaxed when we saw her – an achievement in itself! Go Sealegsgirl! You are really cool!

Well, if I hadn’t been looking forward to Berlin Marathon before I would be now! I don’t understand how anyone can watch a marathon without being inspired to start training for one! Gosh, I can’t wait until 25 September!

Up in the air

May 15, 2011

For the last many years I have travelled regularly for work, something like 80 to 100 days a year, to all kinds of destinations all over the world. That came to an abrupt stop with my cancer diagnosis last May. I had actually just been about to head off to Afghanistan for 4 weeks, which obviously had to be cancelled. Since then I have been grounded!

While I was in treatment I didn’t miss it at all. Dragging myself back and forth to the hospital was the limit of what I could manage, and when you feel ill it is a relief to be able to sleep in your own bed every night.

When I began to think about starting work again, I was a bit worried about how it would go with the travelling . As those of you who travel regularly know, it is an exhausting lifestyle and not at all as glamorous as others imagine – hours and hours spent in airports and on planes, sleeping badly in hotels, jetlag, weekends at home disrupted by arrivals and departures.  Although I felt ready to start working from January, I absolutely still wasn’t feeling 100% well.

However, for some reason I was extremely lucky, not only to have lots of projects land on my desk from 1 January, but projects that didn’t involve any travel in the first months! It has been great to be kept busy while at the same time have my strength return. Gradually, though, as my energy returned so did my itchy feet, and I was really looking forward to my first trip departing on 30 April, more or less 11 months after I had last stepped on a plane.

I’m now back from that trip: 12 days visiting both Cusco in Peru and Washington DC. It was an exhausting trip in many ways. 26 hours trip from Copenhagen to Cusco, 7 hours time difference, altitude of 3300m, long working days, then on to Washington for more meetings, before heading home again.  Yet I felt fine, and seemed to deal with all of it better than many colleagues. I also met a lot of people who I hadn’t seen for a year, some of whom didn’t know that I had been ill in the meantime. I was surprised how many of them spontaneously commented on how well I was looking! I suspect it is the new hairstyle, but no matter, it really was a boost!

My life and my health are definitely back on track!