23km, this was the distance I ran in my first “competition”, on the 23rd August 2014. Funny, I just realize it now, the match between the distance and the date.
So, it has been around 2 years since I’ve started thinking about running more seriously, including the training for that 1st running event.
15 events later (maybe more), I decided to write about running, yeah yeah a lot of people write about running, one extra won’t hurt anyone :)), but I will write in a retrospective way. I will look back at the events, in their chronological order, and write about the runs or write about the what I wrote after the events, because after some of them, I felt the need to write in order to have something more of a memory than just a medal (I’m kidding, I love the medals, and the T-Shirts, and the race numbers, actually about everything that gets into the racing kit bag), until I reach nowadays, in our sweet 2016, when I hope to do at least 10 events.
So let’s get started. Just searching in the depths of a dusty external hard drive for this document file for more than 10 minutes made fear that I will have to rewrite the whole story, but the odds were in my favour.
Evidently, it was written in Romanian, but I will translate and slightly adjust it here and there.
Here we go:
“28th Aug 2014, 03:00 AM
Important is to participate…
That’s very true indeed, especially when you start something you know basically nothing about.
5 days passed since the half-marathon, “The Dacians Marathon”, at Sarmizegetusa Regia, these more as journal data, because on a personal level it was less important where, but what was waiting for me, something I have never done before.
A writing like this stinks from miles away as a motivational speech and…of course it is.
Not only I did the half-marathon, but I also felt better than never, even though one week ago I had knee and ankle pains and about everything that is connected to the feet, starting with the hip downwards, but I ended on the 5th place, at the very first sports event I ever competed.
The irony, in junior high I felt this urge of making up excuses to avoid sports class because my endurance was shitty, I felt inadequate, I felt fat. (I was fat btw)
Nevertheless, too much romance here.
The marathon was supposed to start at 7:00 AM but because I was in the half marathon section and the start for us was later, at 9:00 AM and at half of the distance for the marathoners…”
Hmmm…the document ends here, I guess something back then happened, either I fell asleep or I finished the writing in a document which, of course, I cannot find right now….damn.
Oh well, sipping some wine, some leftovers after Valentine’s Day, recollecting some pretty memories, I can handle it.
So it went like this…
After 100m from the start, the first part was a narrow uphill in the forest and all the half marathon runners were forced to make this queue, and many were taking it easy here, perhaps even because it was the first edition for this track. Me? I was was so pumped, I felt my heartbeat somewhere in my neck, I couldn’t understand why so many people are just walking, so I was passing whenever I got the chance and wherever the track was crowded I was trying to catch some breath. After a couple of km on this part, ( click this to see the track ) I think I got in the first 10, I got out of the forest, and the uphill got softer. I remember meeting a guy who was listening to music at his phone speaker, in the forest, and we shared 1-2 km, but then I think either he went ahead or I passed him, I’m not sure, but it’s irrelevant anyway.
Around the 10th, here the track was going through a beautiful and really quiet mountain village, something happened to the markings. Somebody took one of the signs and put it in the wrong place, confusing some of the runners. I slowed down, looked around, and didn’t understood why the sign was going off track. A runner was closing in, he asked me about the track and we concluded that somebody, perhaps one of the villagers, must’ve shifted the sign to make a prank, so we started running again on the same track and we started seeing the markings again.
I remember that meeting that runner changed everything in the way I saw running. He was competing in the marathon and he was leading. He was running short on water, we shared mine, I was still having plenty, and didn’t know when I should actually drink it, and we ran together the next 6 km or so. He was much older than me, but even now I remember how impressed I was by his stamina, and about the fact that he was leading in the marathon section. During the 6 km, we also did a little bit of talking, he shared some pieces of running wisdom and he encouraged me by saying that if I stick with him I may get on the podium. Even though I was very excited about everything that was happening, I knew I was somewhere in the top ten, but keeping up the pace with him was too much for me, and I lost him at a downhill part, where I didn’t trust my knees enough to endure the pounding that they would’ve received if I went full speed ahead, while my new friend seemed to have just disappeared.
The track got quite discouraging at that point, a downhill path in the forest, a small stream, wet rocks, pain in both of my knees, at one point I slipped and thought I will twist my ankle, but I was lucky enough to pass this part as well.
Next was a quite flat part. Here I started recovering some of the lost time, passed some of the tired runners and managed to catch up the leader marathonist, just to lose him again shortly after, at the next uphill. That uphill felt like pure torture, my legs were shaking, I was barely able to walk, thirsty, all sweaty and cold, trying to focus on the path, feeling like giving up, but at the same time didn’t want to slow down too much because I knew I had a decent ranking. The worst moment was when I saw somebody from the organizers on the track and he tried to encourage me by saying: “Good job, go on, you still have 1.5 km left”…I felt like yelling “FUCK IT!” then and there, but I did that only in my head, and said fuck it with the ranking and all that. I focused only on my legs and the signs on the trees that marked the path.
I started running again just a couple of meters before passing finish line and I don’t know how it was for others, but, for me, that feeling of accomplishment, when I received the first medal, which is somehow a memory of the struggle, in training and in the event, and knowing that I achieved my goal, was unique.
I guess this is why running just stuck to me ever since. On that day, I ranked 5th out of 66 half marathoners, with a time of 2 h 51 min, and so far it has been my best ranking in a running event, even though my time improved since then.
Anyway, guys, my late night pizza just arrived, so keep in touch and good luck with your training.
Until my next post about running check the rest of the things I’ve been doing or check more of my work at one of the following links: