21 of June 2014 ! Nordmarka Skogsmaraton !

So here we are. The marathon day. The long-awaited day had arrived. The long-awaited and feared day. I will not deny that I was nervous. I will also not deny that I was scared. Why ? Because as much as I wanted to keep cool and to say to myself that it is ok if I do not finish … at least I tried … next time will be better … bla bla … I knew that would not be good if I can´t finish. The secret wish went even further , so to finish in 6 hours or above that was also not really appealing to me.

Recap : Started training on 4th of January. For 3 months had never missed a training and I had 3 every week. Injured a bit had to stop nearby Easter and then continued with a slower pace in training. Beginning of June I started mental preparation and started reading about marathon, the famous wall and other stuff like that. I thought about my plan of food and water intake during the race, tested my equipment and so on. A lot of stuff to do before the big day.

I have realised in the beginning of June that I start to feel tired. I guess all the hard training started to wear me out so I was rather happy that the big day was coming !

The big day !

The week before the big day I had to suffer the biggest sufferings of all this training. You will soon understand why. I had the chance of gathering in my house a lot of friends. The friend called portuguese wine, another one called south african wine, and irish whiskey and italian grappa and the most important friend was the best portuguese aquardente (burning water ) in the world, straight from Sertã. Most important, the aguardente is home-made.

As I know that sports and alcohol do not really mix I had to just ignore all this fantastic friends that I had in the house. Now, do not understand that I might be an alcoholic or something … but if I fancy a glass of whiskey after dinner or a bottle of wine with the dinner I really like to be able to … So this week I have suffered with the self-imposed teetotalism.

Regarding the last week I have to say one more thing : I did carbo loaded myself.However I did it trough the week and with care so I do not disturbed my metabolism, while in the evening before the race I ate a normal quantity of food, and something that I usually have, so no fancy things. I also had dinner very early , had a green tea after words and went straight to bed so I can wake up at 5 AM.

And the morning arrived. Haven´t slept as good as I wanted. felt a bit tired but excited. Had the Norwegian friend picking me up from the house and at 9 we were at Sognsvann.  Got the numbers, met some people and started warming up. At 10:45 prepared we all aligned in front of the start waiting for the moment. By that moment I started talking very fast and very nonsense -ish, which I usually do when I am nervous and this was quite the case. Nervous. Scared. Excited and anxious. And we start running. The moment I was preparing for 6 months was finally there. I have suffered all winter running through intense cold, snow, wind, rain so I can run in this day 42.2 km. If I can do this I can do whatever. But can I ?

We started running with an average 6:30 min /km. Till 7th km that was the average and I ran shoulder to shoulder with the Norwegian friend which shall be named later on. Just before the first checkpoint he went on and eventually never caught him, not that I have tried. He finished 1 hour before me and was quite to be expected.

My whole strategy about the race was simple : checkpoint to checkpoint. Do not think about 42. Think 6, and more 6 and so on. I had with me some dried fruits that I knew I can eat without any problems. I also had 2 small bottles, 200 ml each one of them with honey and the other with salty water. Why you might ask … Because I did not tested during training any sports drinks and I did not knew how my stomach will take it. So instead of risking I just had salty water to replace the minerals I might lose through sweat.  I was a bit afraid I might react to the taste but eventually I had to drink it all. My body asked for it and I gave him what he asked.

First checkpoint : dry fruits and 2 cups of water. I have stopped, ate, drank and then run away. Second checkpoint around 13 km : ate some fruits drank water ran away. It was going like a charm. Between the km 6 and 13 where I stopped to refuel I had an average of 6:30. Km 18 and the third checkpoint came. Again some fruits and water. Some 2-3 km before I had to take out my t-shirt. The special tape to prevent chafing went out. So I had to take out my t-shirt as my nipples started bleeding.I understood now that vaseline it is better than tape. Way better. Luckily in checkpoint 4 at km 22 they had vaseline and so I managed to put back my t-shirt as it was rather chilly. We were blessed with perfect running temperature, between 15 and 19 I would say, where almost all through the run was shadow.

By the second checkpoint, going back to the story I had started thinking that I might do it. Also I started being cocky and looking around me to see who are the people who overtook me and thinking when I am going to take them back.

In between the 3rd and 4th checkpoint I started feeling that the hills are quite annoying. Never ending hills, some of them quite steep . In the same period I started feeling my left knee. Started to be swollen. Ignored him pushed forward and I can remember that I have passed in front of a kid … around 19-20 years old who looked quite fit and appeared to be in pain. Cramps. I was feeling sorry for him but feeling good about myself. Kept going. The fourth checkpoint came and with it my left knee got worse and I could barely bend it. At km 27 started to get worse as forcing so much on the right leg I started having cramps. So 27 km. That was how much I needed to hit the wall. There I wanted to quit and go home. Could not bend my legs and started with cramps all over. My ankles hurt, my arms hurt and my abdominal region hurt as well. At that moment I doubted that I can finish. I had to walk for a while. In between 27 and 33 I ran a bit, mostly walked and suffered quite a bit. Had some checkpoints that I do not remember exactly where they came. I know I haven’t eaten at any of them, had just water and coke.

Before km 32 there was one checkpoint and that I remember as there it started the biggest hill that they could find for this marathon. Till there we ran on gravel road, quite good conditions, besides the elevation. From there the road was transforming in a path through the forest, going up and was so steep that I thought I can´t do it.Tried to run trough it a bit  had no chance. Almost broke my neck. We went out of it somewhere after km 33. And there the miracle happened. I started running again and kept running almost till the end. I managed to get an average of almost 7:30-8 min per km. Also started to catch some of the people who took me at the beginning and that made me happy. I was running a marathon. I still had pain and probably looked rather funny as my left leg would not bend properly so my running was bit handicapped but I was running. After km 35 I started talking to myself. Out loud. In Romanian. After km 37 I could not speak anymore and just growled at myself. Must have been rather spooky. Imagine one guy that does not run but somehow drags his left leg very fast and compensates this weird movement with the right leg and growls at himself and looks like he is a great deal of pain. That was me !

Reaching the 8th checkpoint was fantastic. Just 5 km more. And I reached the finish in 5 h 29 min and 27 seconds. 42,2 km. 1605 m elevation accordingly to my strava. 5965 calories. After six months of training I had actually completed the marathon. And I was in a great deal of pain. I also felt drunk. I also felt invincible.

Lessons from the marathon :

– vaseline is the best !

– watch out what you eat ! At the 4th checkpoint I think, I had some raisins … raisins give me a sort of  a … well … make me fart ! I will not go into details but when doing great efforts would be preferably if you would not get filled with gases …just saying! Not funny !

– watch out how much you eat. After the 4th checkpoint I could not eat anything else. Because I stuffed myself till the 4th checkpoint and made my life more difficult than was supposed to !

– DO NOT GET COCKY !

That is it for the day. I will finish the story of my marathon here and continue writing in another day. Because I am a marathon runner !

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