Where to begin with the marathon day. I slept really well Saturday night despite the raw chicken incident the night before. I had prepped all the fuel on Saturday so there wasnt too much to do Sunday morning aside eat breakfast and get ready.
We headed to the breakfast area around 8am to give our stomachs some time to digest the food. I had a piece of toast and some water, generally speaking I do not eat before a run.
When we got back to the hotel room Kath and I both had upset stomachs which we could only assume was from the chicken meal the night before, not great before a big run. At 9.45 we headed down to town to the start line. We arrived with over 14 mins to the start of the run. There was a lot of celebrating at the start line, there was lots of cheering and chanting, we couldn’t understand what was being said as it was all in Spanish, but generally seemed like people were getting really pumped up for the race.
At 10.15am, the race started. Kath and I ran together for the first kilometre or so, then I went off at a bit faster pace. The First few kms involved us running around the town, the incline at this point was fairly mild but the winds were very strong!… The incline didn’t stay nice for too long. I was feeling generally good, stopping at drink stations to have some water, all the while running agaisnt a very strong headwind (I’m talking, so strong people were loosing hats, bibs acting like they were going to rip off). At the half marathon turn around (approx 11km in), I was making decent time and running well, that didn’t last too long as that was when the incline got steep.
There were about 15 dogs that were running in the group I was in, just cruising between people, jogging up ahead than having a break then continuing on again.
The next 12 kms, to the marathon turn around point started to get tough, the winds were not letting down and the hills seemed never ending, we had several rain showers, but I was running with a few people from the tour group, so we were just jogging and walking up the steep hills together.
At the marathon turn around point, I was making a fairly decent half marathon time (approx 2.5hours), given the incline that we had done (start of the run was at 0m and by the time we had got to the turn around point we had reached 200m then came straight down the other side.
So the second half of the marathon was not as good as the first half. I walked the first 4km of the second half as that was a very steep incline, by this stage I had had some of my fuel and hydration and it was just before 1pm, so it was very hot. The winds were still not giving up and neither was I.
At the top of the monster Hill, I started to get back into jogging, at this point I started to feel really unwell. I was nauseous, my legs felt tired and just generally unwell.
By the time I reached the 29km point, the people I had been running with had got on ahead of me and I was really struggling… It was this point that I started to question my training and my fuel situation. I need to mention there that there were only 260 people across the 5 events, so the number of people doing the marathon was not all that high, I was running by myself and really feeling unwell.
I eventually realise that if I was going to finish the marathon I just needed to take a minute to regroup. So I went to the side of the road and just took a minute, well it turned out that, that minute that I took, my body decided that it wasn’t having a bar of the contents of my stomach, and it all came up. Much to my disgrace, there were 2 runners who happened to witness this. One was the only other Australian doing the marathon event and the other was and tried to give me a bit of a stir. After that incident I was feeling 100x better and I started jogging again. I actually felt really good after I had been sick.
The next 8km then slowed right back down, my legs enjoyed the break I had a little too much and started to get very heavy. I was doing a run/walk sequence then, more walking than running. When I eventually came towards the airport I knew I didn’t have too much further to go. At this point, running was no longer physically possible, it was all walking for me. At the 40km aid station I honestly could not have been happier to see the water man than I was at that moment. The next 1.7km was completed by doing a slow walk then when I came towards the finish line my legs and heart just wanted to be done. So I maanged to convince myself that it would be possible to jog down the finishing shoot.
When the announcer said my name and that I was from Australia, I started to get very emotional and when I crossed the finish line and saw Kath, and got my medal, I wasnt sure if I wanted to sit or cry more. Sitting won at the end and Kath gave me a hug and said she was so proud which then made me want to cry. We got a few photos at the finish line together.
So I guess to round up-
Was I happy with my effort?…. I am still very unsure. I am happy that I finished and I knew I always would, I’m too stubborn to not finish something I start. After speaking to a number of very experienced marathon runners from our group (including people who have done literally 100+ marathons) they said it was one of the toughest they have ever done.
What did I learn from this experience? Lots of things, that if you mentally have the strength you can achieve almost anything, the main thing to a marathon is mental strength, if I didn’t have that, then I would have given up at the 30km Mark when I was unwell. I had trouble with my fueling all through my training and it’s certainly something that I need to look at as I still feel like I am not doing it right.
Will I do another marathon? Of course I will, I’m already working out where the next will be and there is nothing like the feeling of a huge accomplishment, especially since I now have a PB, it can only get better from here.