21 months after I rose from the couch, laced up my pair of New Balances and took my first huffs and puffs, I am now a marathon runner.
If you've read my previous post, you may remember that I had slightly injured my right quad and consequently missed some runs in the latter stage of my marathon training. I was actually at a time worried that I wouldn't be able to race at all, but when the day came, for the first time in weeks I had absolutely not problems with my thigh, not even a twinge.
Two months ago I set a new half marathon PR of 1:36:03 indicating my plan to run after a goal marathon time of 3:30:00 was not totally unrealistic and despite in inconsistent training and recent injury, I decided to stick to that goal.
Race day morning I met up with my running buddy who was going to do the race with me and we arrived at the start area about 1 hour before it started. This is the largest race I've ever been in, but also seemed to have the fewest toilets per runner. I'm quite happy I didn't have to swim in the harbor next to the start line that day ;)
We placed ourself around the 3:30:00 pace group and when Wilson Kipketer fired the start gun, off we went.
My outfit and gear was working reasonably well. The weather was warmer than recently in Denmark, but my Adidas t-shirt proved to be sufficiently breezy and my short SKINS tights are always comfortable. At the last moment I had left the racebelt at home, opting instead for just placing my HIGH5 isogels in the waist of my tights. This worked well after I ingested the first one, until then I had to constantly fish them out of my tights as they where slipping down when I started to sweat. Still better than having them bounce around in the belt though.
The first half of the race went rather well, I passed the half marathon distance in 1:44:47, right on time. But I was also beginning to feel a bit tired in my legs. After passing 27 km (16.7 miles) I knew I had to slow down if I wanted to complete the race and slowed down for the next two kilometers, I knew I wouldn't be able to run 3:30:00 but at least be able to run close to it.
Then as we hit some cobblestone around 30 km (18.6 miles) I began to feel a sharp pain on the outside of my right foot. A familiar pain indeed as I knew it from a previous injury to my left foot. After I solved my knee problems by changing to neutral running shoes, I guessed that this earlier injury was caused by the same thing, specificly running in stability shoes and I had avoided doing that since, with one exception my Asics ds-trainers, the shoes I where running the marathon in. They have a bit of a wedge that helped with over pronation, nothing that has caused me any trouble before, but I think the distance combined with the uneven cobblestone was just too much.
I tried walking which hurt and I tried running which also hurt, so the last 12 kilometers (7.4 miles) where covered shifting between walking, limping and running on my toes. As you can see from the charts below and the garmin log, this affected my pace a bit :)
I "ran" the last half of the race in 2:03, 18 minutes slower than required by my goal and finished in 3:48:17.
Despite not actually reaching my goal time, I am very very happy that I was able to complete the race, pain and all. The clever thing to do might have been to stop running and not aggravate the injury any more as I am still limping around but that would have been such a huge disappointed I am happy I didn't.
The pain is quite easy to locate as a red spot shows where it hurts (a bit below and in front of the ankle).
All in all it was a fantastic experience and I'd like to give a special thanks to all the great spectators. At times it was like being carried forward through a tunnel of cheering. Truly a unique feeling compared to shorter races. Also a thanks to all the other runners who participated and was a big part of making this a special day.
If you are considering running a marathon, I say do it! It's easily worth all the hard training, the pain and the sweat.
I can't wait to do it again, which in fact I will in just 63 days. This time just a bit more extreme as I will run Europe's highest located marathon, the Swiss Alpine K42. With 1890 meters (6200 feet) elevation gain, I won't be setting any new PR on the distance, but hopefully I'll have an injury free run in fantastic surroundings. Check out the trailer that made me sign up even before having run a marathon.