Last Sunday, November 3, I laced up for the 2013 Adidas Auckland Marathon. My first as a fifty year old, my second marathon within six months.
As a gift to my 50 year old self I decided to run a marathon. Somehow through my fuddled post first marathon brain the gift super-sized. Two marathons later, and with three toenails missing, I’m richer for the experience.
My Wellington marathon has been blogged and blagged about. Auckland, well that’s a whole other story.
I’d certainly slogged out the training miles, often while the birds warbled renditions of the dawn chorus. My shoes, neon pink and bright, matched my positive attitude, and I was confident I had enough in the tank to fuel me from the start in Devonport to the Victoria Park finish line. Total distance: 26 miles and 385 yards or 42.195 km’s.
Things started to unravel before my toe crossed the start line.
Without sounding like I’ve packed a gym-kit of excuses, here’s a brief summary of the indicators which ultimately led to a bad day at the office.
1. Tight butt
My hip flexors and lower back muscles were tighter than Miley Cyrus’s VMA’s outfit.
2. Dodgy pasta
My pre-race pasta meal was dodgy and sat undigested for hours to come.
Despite not being in the construction business, there was a lot of hammering going on inside my head.
4. Zero sleep
Our hotel was not only well positioned to catch the early morning ferry to the start line, but also for Saturday night yobbo’s who partied hardy way beyond my 3:45am wake up call.
I woke up with the dry horrors. Despite not having had a drop of alcohol for days prior to the race (perhaps that was the problem), my mouth felt like it had spent the night soaking in a bucket of salt water.
Yet with every step, apparently marathoner’s clock up around 46,000 steps, I felt good.
Until the Auckland Harbor Bridge descent wound its way around more undulation and corners to the 17km marker. Here, my right butt cheek, and hip seized, my brain fired off a rapid, oh no not now signal.
Reaching the half way point, 21km, my friend yelled, “you look great.” I replied, “my legs are hammered.”
A few meters down my boyfriend encouraged me to keep going, I faked a smile.
On any other day I would’ve cut my training run short. But….with no chance of quitting the next 21km’s loomed.
By 27km’s my darling legs felt knotted, twisted and confused by the fact I was still running. Come 30km’s the pasta finally decided to gurgle its way down in a fast acting southerly direction.
After that loo stop, my body was physically spent. Running a marathon had become a marathon to overcome. At least I still had my marbles, mentally I was toughing it out.
I simply figured I wasn’t dead yet. And, I’d have to change my plans.
My goal of running a sub 4 hour time quickly lengthened to 4:15, 4:30, then of letting time expectations go and reverting focus to the original plan. Crossing over the finish line.
I did. In 4 hours 52 minutes.
It wasn’t pretty, and I wasn’t prepared for the emotional toll and soul searching that follows a disappointing result.
But, thanks to the huge amount of love, support and encouragement from my family, and friends, perspective has turned disappointment to “holy crap I’ve just finished my second marathon. Yah!”
Post Bad Marathon. 8 Lessons Learned.
1. This one event does not define who you are.
2. Plan to adapt.
– during the latter stages of the marathon, I instinctively knew that if I didn’t listen to my body and pull back I would come to serious injury blow. I hated it, but my physio loved me for it.
3. Think about what went right.
4. Then analyze what went wrong. Here’s two things I now know:
– don’t venture into new culinary territory the night before the race
– downhill running hammers hip flexors
Allow time to bathe in the tepid shallow pool of pity. Feel, think, and talk about the race. Don’t obsess. Let it go. It doesn’t define you.
6. It’s tempting to want to exact revenge.
– as much as I want to register for another marathon, my body and mind need a vacation. After two weeks of active recovery, I’ll run again. Regain confidence, and then plan my next event. Quite possibly another marathon.
7. Never Again. Reads as NOT RIGHT NOW.
8. Judgement Exists Inside Your Own Head.
Unless you’re an elite runner paid mega-bucks to run nobody is judging you.
I know. I’m my own harshest critic, I beat myself up about stuff…which I guess, after having just churned out 42km’s is entirely unkind.
A couple of days ago while chatting to a friend she remarked about an Olympian. With a long career as an elite sportsman at the top of his game, he only ever peaked three times.
Now, that’s perspective. And I’m a runner who couch surfs the Olympics.