It’s disappointing. And the day after it stings more than my blisters and my aching muscles. I could have filled a salt lake with my sweat and tears. But it’s ok.
The hardest part? How to deal with the congratulatory messages. ‘Yeah, thanks. But I didn’t really finish it’. And the medal. I didn’t want to take that either. And the unofficial finishing time that’s up on the website because my running pals insisted on running me over the finishing line and it recorded my chip? Well that’s just fraudulent – it’s ok, I’ve emailed them.
I’ve had a long time to analyze what went wrong. Six hours on my feet in 30 degrees for starters. But I still haven’t really reached any definitive answers. Was my training to blame? My programme was 3 run’s a week, which some would argue is not enough. Sometimes I only ran twice – choosing to do Pilates or yoga and then running out of time. I did my long runs almost to plan. I reached 30k as my longest run 3 weeks before M-Day. It was grueling, but I ran it with only walking the last 2 or 3 km’s. Did I test out my race day strategy? Not really, but it wasn’t wildly unobtainable. Thirty minutes of running with 3 minute walk intervals. Hmmm. Ok, I never tried it in training, What about the heat? It must have been hovering around 30 degrees on the day. But I am acclimatized to this heat; I have run parts of this course in similar temperatures. Was my nutrition to blame? No, absolutely not. And I can’t blame bad carb loading either – I never hit the wall as I never gave myself a chance to even get to the foot of it.
Fat, unfit and caught in the limbo land between christmas and New year, I donned a pair of cheap trainers and downloaded the ‘Couch to 5k’ app. I was desperate. I mean, I must have been. No-one takes up running for fun. They do it to lose weight or win medals, or just keep weight off. I never for a moment imagined that I would actually be able to run 5km, but i figured that if i could run for 30 minutes, 3 times a week it would help me lose weight.
I’m almost two years, two 5 km races, one 10k and one half-marathon into this running thing now. Have i lost weight? Um, not a huge, significant amount. But its changed me in so many other ways, given me so much more than a drop in the number on the scales could ever have. It’s changed my body shape, given me amazing muscles (some still blanketed in fat) but the biggest change has undoubtedly come from the inside and reached much, much deeper than owning a pair of size 10 skinny jeans could ever do.
Now I know that people don’t just run to lose weight, keep weight off or break world records. The running world is full of people of all ages, shapes and sizes and they run because they just love running. Yes really, its a thing. When I see someone out running these days i feel like pumping my fist in the air and have to restrain myself from shouting encouragement. And the weirdest thing, I feel jealous. If people ask me why I run, I want to ask them why they don’t.
Despite a nagging doubt that I would never be able to run for 30 minutes without walking, I’m not going to pretend humility and say that I never envisaged myself running a marathon and losing 20 kilos. It was the first thing that entered my mind when I laced up those trainers and jogged for 1 minute/walked for 11/2 for 20 minutes. Because that’s me; take an acorn and see an oak tree. Just like that. See the end result and wake up one morning and be there. Never mind what it takes to reach Oak tree status. Not see the green shoot push through the earth. Not see the storms that bend and threaten to snap your early days. You get the picture. But training and completing my first half-marathon taught me patience, opened my eyes to the planning, diligence and commitment needed to grow, to improve, to achieve. And that there are no quick fixes, no shortcuts.
Back to the weight loss thing. So now I am training for a marathon. But here is the irony. I am still trying to lose weight. But I am not running to lose weight anymore, I’m losing weight to run. Faster, further and healthier. A whole 42 and a bit kilometres faster, further and healthier. I’m going to document my progress as a personal record for myself and as a very unscientific experiment to see what changes marathon training will do to my 44 year old body. I’m not going on a diet, but but I will be eating healthily and mindfully of what my running body needs. I will find a way to work wine, cheese and biscuits and hobnobs into this because otherwise whats the point in life. My training plan includes running three times a week and cross training on the other days with TRX, Pilates, Yoga and Greek dancing (yes, really) I will photograph myself once a month and record my weight, body fat and measurements for the next five months leading up to the ‘Roads to Rhodes Marathon’.
And I will publish the results here. Proceed with caution, once seen, these images can never be unseen.
I knew when I decided to sign up for a marathon that it was a huge commitment. Weekends wiped out by long runs. A tee-total social life. Wait, what social life? I just committed my weekends to preparing and running long runs! Maybe also a financial commitment – the Physio on speed dial and new trainers. But the one thing I hadn’t reckoned on was the hours of sorting through training programs, reading helpful (and not so) articles about marathon preparation and trying to plot in my other life – you know, the one with kids, a husband and a business?
Just when I think I’ve got this running thing in the bag, little things pop up in my newsfeed to remind me that I am still very wet behind the ears.
‘Yes you can train for a marathon with ONLY 3 days running a week’.
Wait. Am I supposed to run more than 3 times a week? I cross off ‘housework’ from my weekly planner.
‘No I bloody well can’t cook dinner, I just ran a half marathon!’
‘Mum, that was 3 days ago!’
I can see that one is going to wear thin really soon, but I’m milking it a while longer.
People don’t talk about this. It’s all about the lead up to the event, the training, the fuelling, the stretching. Nobody actually tells you that afterwards you will feel like you’ve been tied to the railway tracks and left there for several days while trains go backwards and forwards across your body. And the mental fog! It’s taken me 2 full days to trust myself to do anything that required some level of concentration or operate machinery (like the oven). But it’s uncannily like childbirth. You forget the anguish and the pain and can’t wait to do it again. After all, (but unlike having a baby) when the event is over you are at a bit of a loss as to what to do.
I’m late. This post is at least a week overdue. I delayed it because I was afraid of writing a negative post about running. Or at least what I feared to be a negative post. I should have manned up. I should have written about it. Instead I obsessed, I whined to my friends, I googled and I wound myself up into a tight little ball of frustration and despair. Sounds life threatening, doesn’t it. I thought so too.
It was all going so well. I was up to a 16k long run with just an 18k the following week and then the Sunday before the half marathon a 14k as the start of my taper. The 16k went really well (I wrote about it here). Then I went out 2 days later to do a planned 8k. My calf felt tight, a bit weird. It’ll loosen up, I thought. 10 minutes into the run a cramp in my calf set in, but that wasn’t the worst of it. On the insides of both my lower legs I felt an incredible tightness, like they were going to burst. The sensation came in waves. This is it, I thought. I’ve got a thrombosis and I’m about to have a stroke. Not that I’m dramatic or anything. Listen to your body, I told myself. So I curled up in a ball in the middle of the road. Continue reading “Feeling the fear…(Part 1)”→
I’m just 3 weeks away from my half-marathon now (dies a little inside). I ‘um’ and ‘ah’ about running my long run on the track again. It’s 16 kilometres and I don’t even want to calculate how many circuits that is. But I am totally into prevention, so to save my virgin half-marathon legs I decide I should. I also look into some other ways of staving off sore muscles. It would be a bonus to be able to walk the next day after all.
More running revelations afoot this week. (See how I did that?)
After my ‘reboot week’ brought me to that fantastic little yoga routine, I am pleased to say that I have done it most days and at least parts of it on other days. The stretches are amazing, but I do still nod off at the end. Which is annoying really as I wanted to use that time to visualize me running a 2 hour half-marathon.
I also sought out some ways to prevent some of the discomfort bought on by the long runs. I ate properly and hydrated well in the days leading up to it. I prepared the right carb/protein balanced food for after the run the night before. And I did my long run on a proper running track with a springy surface. Round and round 400 metre circles. Like a teddy bear. One step, two step oh my god I nearly died of boredom. And of a heart attack; Continue reading “(Running) friends with benefits”→
I can’t function for a couple of hours after my run and find myself watching ‘The Great British Bake off’. Fortunately I am too exhausted to compete with them, but I do contemplate challenging Jo Brand to start running. (Oh yeah, I watched ‘The extra slice’ too. I told you it was a couple of hours.) I bet she would be a hoot.
I am now an early morning runner. Not much choice really. If I left it to the afternoon it would never happen and its just too blooming hot. But my daughters’ social lives and Greek island life are not conducive to early nights in the summer and I am feeling the agitation from lack of quality sleep. Continue reading “Meltdown. And solidify.”→
I’ve become very attached to this old boy. A lovely old ‘Pappou’ with his head back, snoring. I call him ‘O Rochalitos’ – the Snorer. I see him from all my happy places – on the home stretch from my run, from the beach where I swim and from my house.