That Time I Realized I CAN Run a Marathon

Less than a year after I wrote this post, I proved it wrong.

Yesterday, I proved to myself that I can run a marathon. After six months of insisting that I no longer wanted to, four months of foot-in-mouth training, and 24 hours of pre-run anxiety, I ran 26.2 miles through the Hunter Valley.

Jared and I were supposed to run it together; two weeks before the race, after our last long training run, he got a stress fracture in his foot. It’s not something that you can run through (although he attempted an 8-mile training run), and it put him out of this race. He took on the role of support crew and we drove up together from Newcastle at 5:15 AM.

Hunter Valley marathon 2013

Deciding whether or not I need to pee one more time, even though I just went.

Pre-Race

I was preoccupied with using the bathroom. Should I go one more time?

“You literally just went,” Jared said. This wasn’t an incorrect use of the word ‘literally,’ as I was still shaking water off my hands from the Port-a-potty sink.

“I know,” I said, “But then I drank some water.”

The announcer called all marathon runners to the start line for a pre-race briefing. My bladder constricted in fear.

“I’m going to go,” I said, and dashed back to the Port-a-potties, leaving Jared with an armful of coats, a bottle of water, and a bewildered look on his face.

When I came back, I surveyed my fellow marathoners. There were about 150 of us, and most everyone looked faster than me. “Crap,” I said to Jared, “What if I come in last?” I hadn’t thought of that before.

“You won’t be last,” Jared said. “Just focus on your race.”

Still, I started at the very back of the pack, the final runner to cross the start line.

Hunter Valley Marathon

Self-seeding at the back of the pack, just in case.

Inside the Mind of a Marathon Runner

200m: I. Am. Running. A. Marathon. Right now. In this very moment. It’s really happening. Don’t cry. Do. Not. Cry.

300m: (Tears wobbling behind eyeballs) Pull yourself together. You have 42 kilometers to go, don’t lose it now.

2km: A kangaroo! Holy heck, a kangaroo in the vineyards, watching us run. I feel like I’m in a Tourism: Australia promotional ad.

3km: Something just burst in my foot. I’m sure of it. Is that blood? Can I see blood through my shoe? No. No blood.

4km: How can my calves be hurting already? They don’t hurt in training runs. Why are they hurting now, of all days?

6km: Jared! It’s Jared. Wave to Jared but keep running.

8km: It feels like I’ve been running forever already.

Hunter Valley Marathon

Just keep swimming.

12km: The distance markers for the second lap are messing with my head. It says 32 kilometers but I’ve only run 12. I have…what!? 20 kilometers to go before I see that sign again?!

13km: Why is someone sprinting past me? We’ve got 3/4 of the way left! Oh…it’s the half-marathon leader. The one who started his race a full 30 minutes after I started mine.

16km: It’s Jared again! He has food. Give me food. Do I want a banana sandwich or a homemade energy bar? Banana sandwich.

Hunter Valley Marathon

Running towards my sandwich. It’s important to have goals during a marathon.

17km: Eating a banana sandwich while running is hard. Why aren’t other people eating? How do they survive? Maybe I should offer that girl some sandwich. Would that be weird? It’d probably be weird.

20km: Do not think about how you’re not even halfway through. DO NOT THINK ABOUT IT. There’s Jared! And Allen! How did they get here so fast? Oh, right. They have a car. Hi Jared and Allen. Keep running.

21km: Pick up your food baggie from the aid station. Where is it? There! There! Eat your energy bar. In just over two more hours, I will be here again, but this time I’ll be going through the finish arch. TWO HOURS. Don’t think about it.

23km: I am still eating the energy bar. Remember: if you don’t eat it, you will die. Who cares if you have to chew with your mouth open and spray crumbs everywhere and that course marshal is giving you a weird look? I don’t care.

24km: Why was that course marshal listening to “Brick” on his van radio, anyway? That’s the worst song possible right now and I can’t get it out of my head.

26km: There’s Jared. I don’t need any food. Actually, YES. Snakes. Give me snakes. I’ll get a drink at the next aid station to wash it down.

Hunter Valley Marathon

Snakes. Also known as gummy worms.

28km: The aid station! Do I want water or electrolyte? IT’S TOO HARD. Give me both.

29km: 13 kilometers to go. What’s that in miles? 13×1000 is 13,000, 600 x 10 is 6000 plus 600 x 3 is 1800 ugh, I don’t know. I’m lost.

32km: This was the distance of my longest training run. From this point onwards is officially the farthest I have ever run. Now, my marathon starts.

32.5km: I’m a brick and I’m drowning slowly.

34km: I’m not even sure I’m running anymore. I’m just sort of…moving forward. Maybe I should lift my knees higher. Huh. Nothing happens when I try to do that.

37km: It is going to be so good when I get to 40 kilometers and there are only TWO TO GO.

Hunter Valley Marathon

Less than 5km left. Do not sacrifice yourself on the vines.

40km: I was wrong. It’s not good. Nothing about this feels good. Picture the finish line. Nope. Not working because I don’t believe I am ever going to get there. I am going to be running FOREVER.

41km: If one more person tells me I’m almost there I will elbow them in the face. Almost there is not THERE.

42km: I’m not going to sprint to the finish; the important thing is to finish. Wait. Is that a girl right behind me, sprinting? Is she trying to BEAT ME? Oh, hell no. Do not incite my wrath or I will race you to the finish and I will win.

42.2km: YES. I finished AND I won the mini-race.

Post-Race

It turns out that the girl at my shoulder wasn’t a marathon runner at all. She was the overall winner of the 5km, and my sudden burst of speed confused her and the announcer, who thought it was a race to the finish for the 5km title.

No. It was just a marathoner who got a little bit out of control; apparently running for four hours and 20 minutes doesn’t kill your competitive spirit.

Hunter Valley Marathon

Where am I? Who am I?

Afterwards? I wandered in circles. I ate lots of food. I stretched. I scraped dried salt off my face.

And I became a marathon runner.

Hunter Valley Marathon

Maybe I can just wear this like a necklace in normal social situations. No?

 

12 Responses to “That Time I Realized I CAN Run a Marathon”

  1. Now you can actually cross it off your bucket list! Well done!! I love that you started racing someone in the 5k race! Haha. I had no energy left at the end of mine. Couldn’t even speed up when a giant womble overtook me!

  2. Woooo congratulations! Also, Brick is possibly one of the worst songs to run to. What was up with that guy?

    • Thanks! I think he was listening to the radio so it’s not entirely his fault, but still. Not the song I wanted in my head at that particular moment in time (or ever).

  3. Sarah Walker, International Superstar Reply July 22, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    so… when’s the next one?

  4. Love the recap! You are adorable. Congratulations!

    Btw, your 40 km thoughts were my last three weeks of pregnancy thoughts. “Don’t tell me I’m almost there. I’m never going to have this baby. Picture cuddling the baby? No. He’s going to stay in there FOREVER.” So you’re prepared now.

    • That made me laugh! I can imagine how those thoughts would tie into the final weeks of pregnancy, especially when everyone is telling you that you’re almost there, but you are still dealing with being pregnant!

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