5th Oct 2014
After a couple of month of running and a trail half-marathon, I decided to give it a try and double the distance.
Between the 1st half-marathon and the marathon, I had only 2 months to train. Looking back, I couldn’t say that it was a wise call. I already had some pain and my knees were suffering from the poor technique and lack of rest between training and long runs, but I don’t regret it.
When I started running for the half-marathon, I increased the distances quite fast and I didn’t do any research about recovery time or stuff like that. All I was thinking about was that I need to run as much as I can in order to finish.
The worst part was when I decided two weeks before the half-marathon to do a long distance run, >20 km, with no stops…at all. Now it wouldn’t be a problem at all, but then…really bad call. After 4 laps in a park, and 24 km covered, I was barely able to walk. Even worse, the metro was closed, it was passed 11 PM, had no money on me, so I had to crawl back home, a couple of km of pure agony.
It took a while to recover, but luckily enough, in the day of the half-marathon, I was feeling good enough for covering that distance. Lucky me 60% of that half-marathon was in the forest, and not on asphalt.
So, my knees were quite vulnerable, and I really wanted to take part in the marathon, even though in my state sounded quite reckless.
I tried to take some precautions, I bought some knee sleeves, which did the trick, at least for the first 25km, my first pair of proper running shoes for long distances, even though I had no clue about one of the golden rules of running, where you need to take the shoes one size larger and the socks one size smaller, some gels and energy bars, and hoped for the best.
There’s quite a rush that you feel during the first marathons or races of a certain kind, that makes you ignore everything you were planning for the first miles.
You tell yourself: “Ok buddy/body, let’s go easy, let’s just finish this, bla bla bla…” but in the end, when you are there, you feel like “Fuck it! I can do this shit! Let’s ruuuuuuun”. So the first kilometers you have no problems, you feel like weightless, until you start thinking:
“Hmmm…how much did I run so far?….Whaaaat?….5 km….damn…” and then you remember your promise to your legs to take it easy, because you have to run that distance again, for like 8 times.
The event was the Raiffeisen International Marathon Bucharest 2014. Being an international marathon, a lot of runners were there. In fact, more runners in one place than I ever saw in my life.
The start/finish zone was in front the House of Parliament, close to where I live right now, and the track supposed two laps of 21 km. For those who visited Bucharest and have a clue of some places, the track went on Unirii Boulevard, all the way to Alba Iulia Square, second exit of the roundabout, then all the way to the National Arena, returning on the same way, going 800m up on Victoria Street, then back, continued on Dambovita River, and crossed the river and turned around at the Opera Park and completed the lap in front of the House of Parliament.
Problems appeared on the second lap. After completing the first lap in 1h 50min, I realized that this was my best time yet. I got all excited, but just for a short period of time. I faced a wall around the 29km, my knees started to fail on me, I started walking now and then because of the pain, going uphill on Victoria Street was like going through hell.
On flat surfaces, it wasn’t that bad but whenever I stopped running at the water points it felt awful and starting again meant a lot of walking first.
Every now and then I was feeling a kick, because of the energy bars and gels I was eating every 5-10km, and I managed in the end to pass the 40 km. That’s when I felt the pain getting numb, and I couldn’t think about anything else than the finish line.
As it wasn’t enough already, after the last turn I decided to sprint towards the finish gate which I was seeing, small and far, but it was there. Foolish as a noob can be, I forgot that the boulevard was quite long, and even if I saw the finish gate, it still meant that I have to run around 300m. My sprint didn’t last not even half of this distance, when I decided that I’d rather end the race walking than fainting right before the finish line.
I passed the finish line after 4 hours and 3 minutes of an emotional rollercoaster, 1 hour of pain, and got my kick-ass medal. I had to crawl to the closest bench, but it worthed it…totally.