Marathon. Additional.

8 03 2010

The last post was rather short. I was rather tired. This one is rather long. And all about ME!

I finally managed to start and finish a Marathon. Many of you will have heard about my inability to start a marathon – generally due to blowing up my Achilles in the last month or so before the race. I’ve done that 3 times now. You’d think I would eventually learn.

I’m not fit enough to run one of these things off the bat. I tried to follow a training plan. But failed. I thought I was a generally healthy person, but listen to this:
Before the 18week plan started, I was feeling like I could already run most of the way, running 10k regularly, and more than 20k occasionally.
The third week of the plan I had my Wisdom Teeth out. Shortly followed by getting sick for a few days. Followed by working night shift for a while. None of these are conducive to running.
The next week I started getting blisters that even had me surprised (look at my feet after a Rogaine and you’ll understand). I couldn’t run on that! Took me a while to fix that, but in the end I think it was the socks that solved it (I ended up with fancy arch compression socks that I’ve never needed before).
About Christmas time, I did blow up my Achilles, going for a long run over hilly terrain in Australia. But that was quickly followed by a virus that was really quite nasty (the same thing managed to send my father to the hospital), so it forced me to rest – which meant my legs got time to fix themselves. Oh, and I was working night shift again for almost 2 weeks, so I couldn’t get myself to run anyway.
After that I took a look at the date and went into overdrive. Which meant I was risking the Achilles again, but I used every trick I knew to save it. Which may partly explain the minor shin splints I developed after the last long run (32km), which stopped me for a week. And only one calf muscle was complaining!
But again, that was ok, because I had a fever for two nights, and felt terrible for the whole week – so my legs could repair. At that point I was supposed to be tapering, so I figured that in the absence of any decent training, I should just rest well. Which I did extremely well. Except for going for a last jog the week before, in which I strained or broke something in my left foot – I literally couldn’t walk the next morning (a week before the event). But this seemed to go away (for a while).

Ready to go!

Despite my best efforts, I was able to get to the starting line under my own power. And I even felt pretty good. Although it was a bit chilly, 5C at the start according to the internet weather report and about 10C at the end. Shorts and T-shirt. Probably would have been happy with a thermal.

I started up the back of the 3:30-4:00 expected time group – a small group of only about 5000 people. And got stuck at their tempo. With that many people, the four lane street isn’t wide enough. But that was ok, I was able to start gently which was probably good in the long run. I was aiming to simply finish after all. A few k’s in, I saw a hat with an Australian flag printed on it. Another Aussie! So I caught up and said G’day. He had no idea what I was talking about, he was Belgian – he just liked the hat. But at the same time a real Aussie caught me (with my Aussie flag stick on tattoos) and we chatted for a few kilometres. He was an iron man. Had run several marathons. Suggested that my target of 3:30 was quite ambitious and just finishing was a pretty good target for the first time. So I ran off from him, and bumped into a pair of Irish (Steve and Ken) who were at my pace. We struggled to make sense of each other for about 10km before we got separated at a drinks stop and I never saw him again. Steve also suggested that 3:30 was a pretty mean speed, so I readjusted my expectations to hit 3:45, knowing that anything could happen in the last few kilometres.

My left foot (the one that was damaged a week ago) started to let me know it wasn’t happy about 10km in, but at the half way point I felt pretty good. Considering the last half marathon race I practically collapsed at the end, I was happy about this. After about 30km I felt I should start to increase the pace a bit, but the body had found a groove and I just couldn’t go any faster. I also knew that the time for bonking (running low on energy) was coming up… But it failed to hit me. Although it was obvious something was happening at about 38km. Many, many of the younger, tall, fit looking people started to walk with a fair amount of pain on their face, and several of the older folks found another gear. I guess this is the experience showing. A swift burst of mental arithmetic told me that I was on target for 3:45, but I thought 3:40 sounded better. I just kept on going, same pace, same heart rate (but couldn’t go any faster).

Garmin Connect – Activity Details for Barcelona Marathon.
This may sound terribly geeky, but the pace data the running computer I have (and nearly everyone else has) gave was pretty bad during the run. Mostly due to all the buildings I guess. But the heart rate data was pretty good – I am pretty happy with that. The big drop near the end was a drink station I walked through (for a few more seconds than was absolutely necessary) – I walked through most drink stations. But still managed a pretty good split: First half: 1:57, second half 1:47

Results website. Number 7876. I haven’t seen it yet, but the finish photo may be a little embarrassing. The organisers have done this before. The timing system has been perfected. They send live updates to the web. Brilliant.

I finished well, still running. The sprint finish was a bit slow, but I was still moving well. Yes, yes, fully an hour and half after the winner had finished, at least I got there. Drank and ate what I could, then hurried into the pavilion to stop shaking. It was cold! And stumbled into the massage area. Well, that was a bit of good luck. Had a massage, and stretched for a bit. Walked home, had a shower, phoned home – first honest response: “that’s a long time” (can be taken two ways). I then convinced my legs that the best thing for them was to go for a walk, so we did. I even found some stairs to torture myself on. That’s always fun when the quads are hammered. I walked back to the starting line – all the tents and infrastructure was almost all packed away, most of the rubbish gone and they were painting over the advertising they had painted on the road. They really have done this before.

Last night I was shuffling a bit, and the body chemistry was all out of balance, but today things are back to normal. Just sore, but that’ll be gone in a few days.

So I did it! Hurray! Finally.

Something doesn’t look right here… Should’ve tried out the Chinese made stick on tattoos before race day 🙂



2 responses

13 06 2010

Finally read your account of the marathon. Am very impressed. I don’t think I could even walk the 42 ks.

14 06 2010

Yes, I’m a hero. Don’t forget it.

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