08 January 2011

Marathon* 1

42.05 km
5:54min/km (Avg Pace)
3335 kCal

Asterisks suck. Let me explain.

This morning, I got up at 6:00 to run the course I mapped below. It was raining pretty hard, and I thought a bit about just putting it off to tomorrow, but my better angels got the best of me and I headed out, swapping my hoodie for my raincoat and adding a pair of wool socks.

From the beginning, it felt like the rain was going to be frustrating (particularly the puddles), but that it wouldn't really force me home. It also became clear that having the raincoat was going to heat me up pretty quickly. Anyway, I started towards the old railroad track path that I was going to be running, but by the time I got there (about 3 km in) it had almost stopped raining.

The first 10 km were no problem, but I didn't push myself very much and was thinking that at some point I could ditch my raincoat along the trail and pick it up as I was going to be coming up and down the path four times. When I made the first turn (at 13 km), having completed the path once, I was pretty sure that I wasn't going to be able to finish as my foot was hurting and I was realising that it was pretty stupid to attempt this after running the two half marathons I did last week. It was also clear to me that although running the straight smooth path was nice, it was a) pretty hilly and b) going to get a little tedious, which doesn't bode well for morale. I thought to myself that I would go down and back and think about punting at that point.

But when I made it back (at 23km) I decided that I would drop my raincoat, and after doing that and thinking that I was more than halfway there, I thought I would continue on. The problem was, I was slowly realising that my water supply was dwindling. As I was thinking of possible places I might get water, there was nothing close to the path coming to mind and the only place I could think of was on the trail back to the house, near the very end of my run. At about 28 km, it was clear to me that I needed water to finish, so I decided to not go down the path a last time, instead at the turn at 32 km, I would head home and stop at the convenience store to buy water and make up the remaining 7 kms. Although I wasn't sure, I could think of a route that I thought would be about 7.5 km, but I couldn't remember for the life of me if it was 6.5 kms or 7.5 kms. Plus, it was in neighbourhoods with a huge vertical drop (and subsequent climb). Certainly not ideal, but I didn't really have a choice.

I stopped at Tesco Express and bought two 500ml Powerades and drank one in less than a minute (a good indication that I needed it). I headed back in the direction of the house as that was the starting point for the route I could think of and dropped off my Camelbak and raincoat in the front yard, with the second half drank bottle of Powerade.

One of the good things about running out of water, however, was that I spent about 5 kms thinking about my water rather than my body, so when I got to the house (35 km), I was sort of back in the game mentally, although my body was feeling it. I walked for about 5 minutes from 3:35 to 3:40 and then picked up the running again. It started raining again around 40 km, but by that time my body was back completely and I added a little bit to the end of the run to make sure I had passed 42.195 km, a full marathon.

Well, after relaxing a bit and taking a shower, I mapped my run and realised that I had actually come in 145 metres short of a full marathon (42.05 km), owing to the fact that I over-estimated how long the second section of my running was (7.5 km instead of 6.5) and underestimated my run in the woods. Leaving me 145 metres short. Which sucks because I certainly had another 1 or 2 km in me and the only reason I stopped was because I thought I was finished. Oh well. What's 145 metres between friends. What's an asterisk next to the word 'marathon' anyway.

I did realise on this run, however, why it is that I love long, lonely runs. I had over 4 hours in which I was completely alone. No one to talk to. No Internet. Nothing. Just me and my thoughts. And I'll tell you what, you think about a lot in 4 hours. You think about everything in your life, more-or-less, and you do so slowly and deliberately. You let your mind wander and there's nothing to worry about. It's not like driving or riding a bicycle where you have to stay focused on what you're doing or you hurt yourself. No, running alone on a path in the middle of the woods at 7 in the morning as the sun comes up through the rain... It's loneliness is the best sense of the word. It's you and your body, your mind vs. your body.