Flashback —> Berlin Marathon
Now? Over a month past the fact, looking back on the Berlin marathon genuinely sparks good, positive feelings, but that day, September 25, 2011 was a hard day.
A really really hard day.
When you train for a marathon you devote a lot of hours, blisters, sweat, chaffing and early mornings into this one, single day. And then within a few simple hours? it’s all over. Done. Finished. And those few early morning hours, from that one single day, will define your past four months of hard work, dedication, and sacrifice.
The Berlin marathon, my Berlin marathon, in no way reflected my training season.
In no way.
My training season didn’t skip a beat, in fact, it was one of the few schedules in my life I had stuck to nearly to a T. I was ready. Physically and mentally for that marathon, I was ready. But then that day came, September 25, 2011, and as it turned out, it just wasn’t my day.
As you know, my goal was simple: marathon in under 5 hours thankyouverymuch. Doable. I had been running my entire training season at a 4hour 30 pace. A half an hour buffer? Excellent. I can soooooooo do this.
There were 16 people from my running group in Toronto running the Berlin marathon with me…
Walking to the start line in the morning
The morning was beautiful, and just like every other marathon I’ve run, the air was filled with excited, nervous marathoners…
Once I arrived at the marathon grounds, it was a little hectic —> Berlin hosts the world’s 4th largest marathon, with nearly 35,000 runners participating in the day and of those, 78% are men and 22% are women. From my personal experience? Berlin was a very (very!) poorly organized event for us women. Everything was better for the men, but after fighting my way to find bag check, and searching for toilets with less than an hour lineup, I finally managed to find my coral. It looked like the above. Packed. But still, at this point, I was feeling ready, I was feeling good, I was excited! Especially when a nice guy from the Baltics (whose name sadly escapes me as I type this) recognized me because of this blog(!). I spoke to him for a while, and as he was running his first marathon, which I think is always the best, thing, ever, I got SUPER excited!!
Slowly we shuffled to the start, and then BOOM! suddenly I was running. I was feeling good, nay great, and on pace for my 4h 30min marathon. Rob somehow found me within the crowd and ran with me for a bit, but as my 1 minute of walk fast approached, I waved him goodbye, and wished him luck.
The route was beautiful, the sun was shining, and the crowd was in full force (nowhere near the awesomeness of Chicago, but still fun!). I was feeling good. I was feeling fast… I was rocking my Garmin, and I was flying through my 10s and 1s (where I run 10 minutes, then walk 1. A technique I always do for 15k+ running).
Then the 10k mark passed.
And shit. What the hell was that?
It’s always hard to explain pain through writing, or even out loud to a doctor, for that matter, so I’ll try my best, but chances are this won’t convey the extreme pain I suffered in my right side from 10k (6.2 miles) to 42.2k (26.2 miles).
I’ve had cramps before… workout cramps, lady-style cramps and cramps for no reason. But this cramp, during my marathon, was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. It took my breath away with each sharp jab of pain and literally nearly made me fall over when it first hit me. It forced me not only to walk, but to stop to get my breath back. It was bad, really bad. I wondered for a good 20km whether I would have to leave the race to get my appendix out, or something… as I figured something was seriously wrong. It was incredibly frustrating to want to run, but be forced to stop(!) from the pain in my side. Eventually (like, at 37k) I figured out if I deeply inhaled, then slowly exhaled, it was bearable, and I could muster up a slow, continuous jog.
I had anticipated knee pain. I had anticipated my toes going numb. I had anticipated being tired. I had anticipated stomach issues. But this? this I hadn’t planned for. I rarely get cramps while running, so why one hit me with such force the day of my marathon? I’ll never know. The pain in my side actually continued for about 3 weeks post race. Sometimes when I was walking down the street in Croatia I’d have to pause for a second and wait for it to leave. Long, painful story, short, I was in a lot of pain during the marathon, but I battled through it, and finished. ((note: all seems good in the world of my stomach these days. I never went to a doctor about it (i hate doctors - still have that childhood fear of them calling me fat), but it eventually passed and I haven’t felt the pain in over a month))
I hate excuses. It was what it was. Just a bad marathon day. And as you you know, I crossed the finish line in 5 hours and 10 minutes, just shy of my 5 hour goal, but I was devastated - despite still having finished after having moments where I thought I’d have to drop out. But it’s over now. Done. And I’ve moved on… (already planning my spring 2012 marathon! One in Australia, anyone? anyone?)
I truly think my running skills are better than a 5 hour 10 minute marathon, but such is life, and I know my time will come when I do cross the marathon finish line with a “4” in front of my time. Until then, I’ll look back on the Berlin Marathon with positive thoughts, because as Henry Ford said, failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely, so that’s what I’ll do when training for the next one, anticipate not-planned-for things going wrong, and have 3 goals set, the 3rd always being “simply to finish” as I was so fixated on that stupid, “under 5 hour” goal, that I forget just completing the marathon distance of 42.2 kilometers (26.2 miles) is impressive. Did you know the average woman runs a full marathon in 5 hours and 10 minutes. I am average. That’s not a bad thing. Actually, I’ve rarely in my life been “average,” usually I’m the slowest, fattest, etc. so “average” isn’t too shabby at all.
When my boy roommate and I were going through our moving-out-awkward issues, he did tell me he “admired” me for making my goals and aspirations so public. He told me he never shares anything with anyone in case he fails, and he commended me for being so open. I didn’t quite understand what he meant. I now do. Failing publicly sucks. It’s awful. With close family and friends, I can deal with it… but to anonymous readers on my blog? It was really hard…
The idea of signing into Tumblr and sharing with my very-public-blog that I didn’t make my goal time was nearly the hardest thing of not making my goal. I wished so badly after crossing the finish line that I didn’t have a blog, that I hadn’t shared my goal, that I didn’t have to tell anyone. But I did, and y’know what? As it turns out it didn’t really matter and I’m pleased I at least tried and failed, as apposed to failed to try.
2012 I hope to run at least two marathons (Iron Man too?), and once again, I’ll set that ever-so-public goal of, “Run a marathon in under 5 hours,” because that’s what I do, I share, and try, and try and share, and I truly think I’m better a better person at the end of each day for it… win or lose.
Here some photos for people who prefer photos to words (ie. people like me):