What happens after you run a marathon…

You will either love it and run more or hate it and never run that distance again. I became the latter; here’s my story…

Like most self-motivated amateur athletes I wanted to run the 42.2 Km race to check it off my bucket list. This would be my first long distance race ever; the most I had ran was 4 Km. So I consulted with the wisest of my coaches: Google, “Marathon training plan”, click and done. There I had it, a 3 month step by step, day to day plan that would get me from 0 to 42.2 Km.

I ran 4 days a week and did some other activities 2 of the other days. The plan was good, I saw my endurance increase. After a few weeks I wasn’t scared of a 10K, and a few weeks later I ran my first half-marathon in under 2 hours. I thought that was pretty decent. So I stuck to the training plan.

Soon after, and within a few weeks before the marathon I had to call a friend to pick me up from an 18K training run. Severe pain on my right knee prevented me to even walk. The diagnosis was damage to the iliotibial band which required physio and rehab twice a week for at least 3 weeks. The most I had ran by this point was 30 Km, and I wouldn’t get to do another long distance run until the actual race.

The night before the marathon came and all I could think of was the injury. At the hotel room I laid out my gear, making sure I had everything I needed. I set the alarm clock, and reviewed the route to get to the start line. It seemed quite straightforward. Then after what only seemed like an instant, the alarm went off I jumped off the bed got dressed and headed out to the subway station.

Subway is not running! Of course, the subway doesn’t run at 5:00 AM. Alright, no need to panic, get a cab. Most main streets were closed off for the race but I managed to get there with some time before the start time. so first thing first, stretch that iliotibial band and warm up. Breakfast? No, no time for that; I’m sure they’ll have bars and stuff along the trail. So the race starts, and this is how every 10 Km went in my head:

0 to 10 Km: Let’s run this one at a medium pace just to get the hang of it. Whatever these guys next to me are saying sounds reasonable. Oh shit, I didn’t eat anything. I guess I’ll grab a snack at the 5 Km station. 
OMG, there are no snacks at the station… and all the energy drink is gone! Ok, water will do until the next one. Split time 0:58:00

11 to 21 Km: Ok, that 10 K wasn’t that bad. Let’s try to increase the pace so I don’t get bored. I’m also on target to a sub 4 hour race. Water only, again?! Well, at least the weather is nice and cool, and my knee is holding up. Split time 0:54:00

22 to 32 Km: Good job, half way there. F**k that last hill was hard, hopefully that guy in the crowd wasn’t kidding when he said it’s all downhill from here. Hmm, or did he mean I’d feel like crap from here on? I’m so hungry, and look at all these convenience stores. If I only had some money, I’d grab a slice of pizza and keep running. Ok, let’s take these 10 K at a more moderate pace to conserve energy. I wonder if anyone dropped a gel pack, even a partly used one. Holy shit I’m hungry. Split time 0:58:00

32 to 42.2 Km: Alright, ten clicks to go. Still on track for target time, this is it! Every step I take is the farthest I’ve ever run. Didn’t they say there’s a wall at the 30K mark? Who are these fools? #*$@ I’m hungry. Why did I sign up for this? Are those bananas up ahead? I can’t believe it, 2 girl scouts handing out bananas. I’ll take them all, thank you!

With 4 Km to go I slowed down so much that I was pretty much walking. I had no energy left and I was bored out of my mind. Simple things like hearing my name from the spectators or reading a motivating line kept me going. First hearing and then actually seeing the finish line gave me the final boost to jog across. My total time was 4:23:39 and I have never run a marathon since.

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