Today was the day I’ve been training for for about 6 months. I woke up, got my shit together and walked to the park where I knew the first thing I’d do is join the pissline. I din’t really need to go but figured just in case. The park was crowded with about 2000 runners and their family/friends/supporters.
I was jealous of everyone because I had nobody supporting me. I was all alone :(. The queue moved along at a snail’s pace. I enjoyed trotting in the wet grass and mud – ladies and gentlemen this is what England is all about. I forced a tiny amount of liquid out of my bladder and felt hugely accomplished – it was totally worth the 25 minute wait in the pissline. Hands down this was the best part of race day.
I moved along to the bag drop are, got rid of my shit and went for a 15 minute warm-up run. I felt optimistic and full of energy. My last two Sunday runs were epic – I ran a personal best in a 5K, 10K, 16K/10Miles, half marathon and 32K/20Miles distances. I was very confident I’d run a personal best in this marathon as well. I was aiming for a sub 3H 10 min.
I positioned myself behind the sub 4H sign. This was my first mistake – after my start I had to pass many runners because I wanted to stay at a 4:22 min/km pace – it was a nightmare and the first 2 kilometers were rubbish. In my experience the first 3 km are crucial to running a PB – if they’re slow, it’s very hard to make up for them later on in the race. I was already going slower than I planned. Then shortly I discovered that the pavement stopped and we started to run on wet grass. It was soft and muddy and gross – and incredibly hard to run on. The marathon was a multi-terrain race – pavement, grass and gravel. I wrongly thought that it would still be mostly on paved roads – but it was about 50% pavement and 50% grass or gravel. I hadn’t done my homework.
At about the 5Mile/8K mark I noticed that my legs were hurting. 5 FUCKING MILES. What? I couldn’t believe it. I’ve never been in pain after such a short distance. I hardly ever run distances that short – and there I was with pain in both calves which was moving up towards my quads. I think it was the grass which caused it – it felt like running on wet sand. Where was a lot of give on the surface and that must have put my leg muscles under strain/stress which they hadn’t been exposed to during my 100% pavement training runs.
The pain didn’t go anywhere. It was gradually getting worse and I was slowing down more and more. After about 16K/10Miles I wanted to quit. It was clear that this race wasn’t for me. All I wanted to do was to stop the pain, stop, walk home and cry like a little bitch. But I kept going, thinking that maybe, just maybe, the endorphins will kick in and the pain will go away. That never happened. FML. 🙂
It was a surreal experience. The last 10K or so my heart rate averaged 150 bpm (FYI that’s very easy running and certainly not race pace) and I just couldn’t go faster. The fitness was where but the pain much too great. I told myself that I wouldn’t walk, I’d keep shuffling all the way if I had to. I think I got quite good at doing the shuffle.
This was the hardest race I’ve ever done. After crossing the finish line at 3:49:07 I got a medal around my neck and a goodie bag. I slowly walked towards a tree and laid down on the moist grass and formed a massive star with my arms and legs. I was exhausted and glad that the ordeal was over. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I was so disappointed, angry and sad. I was so pissed I even ate the 3 non-vegan chocolate/protein bars I found in the goodie bag. Looks like I wanted to spread my misery and support the torture and murdering of other sentient beings. I feel bad about it now but at that moment I didn’t care. Yeah… I’m quite disgusted by what I did.
So where you have it – today was this year’s crappiest day. The perfect storm has come to an end and after taking a warm bath at home I’m optimistic that sunny days will follow.
Congratulations to my fellow runners – all 2000 of you. I’d also like to thank for the support from the volunteers and community. This was my 4th official race and the support from the people was the greatest today – England 1 Australia 0.
Ivar the Shuffler