Having finished my first half marathon and not ending up in a wheelchair I got to thinking that I could give a full marathon a shot. So along with him-indoors and a buddy we decided we would all take a trip to Venice and run the 28th Venice Marathon in October. Sure why not. Besides the Dublin Marathon was far too common. The Italians are known for their style so I could only assume their marathon would be a glitzy affair.
Within a few weeks of deciding to do it him-indoors was complaining of ankle trouble. To be fair he was walking like John Wayne. A few trips to the doctor later and he was officially out of the running for Venice. Meanwhile my other buddy was complaining of hip problems. I assumed it was because he walked with a mince. True story he does and apparently never knew until I pointed it out. It’s a walk that says ‘hello boys’. His American Indian name would be ‘Walks with Mince’.
As it turned out his hips were out of line because he used to sit on his leg as a child, oh and he had a stress fracture in his leg. A stress fracture is like the poor relation of a real fracture. Not quite a fracture but serious enough to curtail your running. So that was him out too. They did both decide that a holiday in Venice would still be fun and would support me as the Lone Runner.
Training for Venice kicked in. A lovely colour coded marathon training plan was created full of ambition and dreams of running stardom. It was created with the help of a great book by Hal Higdon called Marathon. My stress fracture (mincer) buddy gave me a loan of it. Another runner had recommended it to him. See lovely bunch runners, couldn’t be more helpful and all about sharing secrets. I’ll throw out some personal thoughts on marathon plans and what distance to train to in a later post. The book said I should train to a maximum of 20 miles and no more. The actual marathon would be 26 miles. That’s another six miles I’m somehow pulling out of the running bag on the day. Better be a big bloody bag.
As a pre marathon goal and to bench mark my progress I signed up to the Eco 2 Run 20 mile run which was taking place on September 29th in Dublin. If I could do that then I could run Venice a month later. That was the plan. My training for it was up and down. Good weeks where I ran my ass off and bad weeks where I sat my ass off on the couch. Again I found myself thinking how far exactly is 20 miles. So anytime I went somewhere (in the car) I was keeping an eye on how far I had driven. I very quickly realised how far it was. It was VERY FAR. It was far driving never mind actually running it. I had signed up and told people I was doing it so I couldn’t exactly back out. Loss of face will win every time over loss of the use of my legs due to running ridiculous lengths. So I was committed to this 20 miler.
I trained as much as I could (blatant lie I did not I was lazy loads) for it and turned up on the day. I had done all my pre race checks the night before. Things like make sure I had my running playlist and enough of the gel bars I liked (Banana Blast) to get me through. In keeping with my very girlie (no offense girls) obsession in ensuring my shorts and top matched I decided on white shorts with a red top and white socks with a red trim. In the event I got tired and couldn’t run any further I had great faith that my matching outfit would be enough to push me forward across the finish line. I’m only smiling because I haven’t run yet.
I’m hiding near the back of that group of people.
The turnout for the race was much smaller than I had thought it would be. It was in the hundreds rather than in the thousands. The course consisted of four identical laps around an area of Dublin Port. (See course route pic below). In terms of running through a scenic area and getting to see the city the course unfortunately failed on all accounts.
I found this course to be particularly difficult for a number of reasons.
1 – Running the same four laps can become quite boring.
2 – The route was quite industrial so there wasn’t really much to look at.
3 – The number of people running as mentioned was much smaller than previous runs which meant there were stretches of the course were I found myself running completely on my own. I was used to having fellow runners beside, in front and behind me. If there was no-one in front I had no-one to chase after and if there was no-one behind I had no-one to try and keep a head of.
4 – The smaller number of people running meant there was a small spectator group cheering us on. I’ve said it before but it really is quite amazing how cheers from complete strangers can spur you on.
On the last lap my hips were killing me. My feet were fine. My hydration was fine. I’d gone through enough gel bars to feed a small country and I wasn’t really that tired. But the hips, Jesus they were sore. I’m rubbish at stretching before and after training and when I actually do, hips never come into it. I just assumed they do their own thing and they are one body part I don’t have to bother about. WRONG!!!! WRONG!!! My hips were sore and I was struggling along with an outlandish kind of stride which was a mix between looking at someone who needed to use the toilet and someone who wanted to cry due to pain.
Nevertheless I got stuck into the last lap and despite the HIPS I managed quite a respectable time. Actually no, I completely amazed myself. I came across the line in 03:20:59 Not too shabby at all and much faster that I thought I would. The chip time worked out to be 03.20.30 (not much of a differance)
There wasn’t a medal in sight that I could flash around later in the pub but there were some bottles of water and bananas so I got stuck into them. My hips were actually in bits for a good 7-8 days after that race. Like any sensible person I immediately Googled hip pain and self diagnosed myself with two hip fractures and took to the bed. I did also seek some advice from someone more qualified than Google and now am an avid ‘hip stretcher’. I’d go as far as to say I’d give Shakira a run for her money. Next stop Venice Marathon!