Sunday, April 28, 2013

Rock 'n' Roll Madrid Maratón

I originally signed up for this marathon back in September or October thinking it'd be a PR marathon. I'd have a year to train well, and it'd be the first time I ran a marathon in the city I was living in at the time (meaning I would be acclimated to the weather).

Surprise! Ankle injury in the Fall that running the Goofy Challenge certainly didn't help. I felt fine a week after the marathon-and-a-half and began a new training program, but I apparently did too much too soon and injured myself again. This time it was the dreaded Achilles. Eventually, with daily eccentric stretching and some massage therapy, I got back into running shape, and I was more or less back on track. Fast forward to what was supposed to be my peak week, where instead of doing a 20-mile run I decided to do a 125-mile coastal walk on the Isle of Anglesey in Wales, in which I am pretty sure I gave myself a stress fracture. My left foot was about twice the size of my other one for a day... the swelling went down and the pain went away, but I didn't dare run more than a mile or two at a time. A week before the marathon, I attempted a 10-mile run but only made it 5 before my calves started getting dangerously tight. I didn't want to hurt them, so I walked the other 5 miles.

A reasonable Tim would have just foregone the marathon in favor of not risking serious damage, but luckily I'm kind of an idiot and can be very reckless. So this morning I KT taped my ankles for stability, donned my calf sleeves and lined up for my sixth marathon. It wouldn't be a PR, but hopefully I would finish. But even that was a bit iffy. This marathon had been the key stress point in my life for the past four months.

I was feeling good about the run, except for one thing: the forecast. It was supposed to rain. Light rain, whatever that means. I don't have any running shoes here besides my Original Luna sandals, which are pretty horrible in the rain (I didn't mention that I possibly sprained a toe earlier this semester by running in the rain in the slippery devils). So I put KT tape on the bottom of my forefoot and the top of the sandal where my forefoot rests to create some friction in case of rain. Hopefully it'd work. I also tightened my sandals a bit. As it turned out, it didn't rain at all. There were some threatening drizzles around mile 20, but it didn't get worse, luckily.

The run started out great. I was feeling energetic and fluid, and I finished the first half in about 1:57. The bad news started around mile 15... strong fatigue. Shortly after, cramps. My thighs and calves were contracting in ways that made it impossible to do more than walk briskly. I took a short break to try and massage, stretch and actively release the tension, but that was largely fruitless. I swallowed an extra salt pill and went on my way, seriously contemplating dropping out. What was I thinking doing this without much training and after all those injuries, anyway?

I brooded for a few kilometers, trying to run every now and then but not making it over 40 seconds before succumbing to walking. After maybe a half hour, though, something miraculous happened: The cramping stopped. I was still dead tired, and my calves still felt precarious, but I could basically run with a modified form (more of a flat foot strike rather than my usual forefoot strike) here and there. But it was a struggle. Even so, I was delighted to be facing my own mostly-mental babiness rather than the physical limitations that have been so frustrating for the past few months.

It was a brutal finish, but it wasn't my worst marathon. I ended up around 4:45, just under an 11-minute mile, and I'll take it. I'm looking forward to taking some time off running to let my body recuperate, and then I'll start a nice, slow training program for my next marathons in October.

Shout out to my roommate Brigette for coming out to see me as I passed near our apartment and then cheering at kilometer 42 with our friend Vi. And of course my friends Emily and Niki, who ran this as their first marathon, beating me by 10 or 15 minutes.

Somehow I don't feel that sore. I remember my first couple of marathons had pretty brutal aftermath. I feel a bit uncomfortable maybe, but my feet and legs feel mostly normal. The only thing is I got a cut between my big toe and pointer toe on my left foot because I had tightened my sandal. Oh, and the stomacheache from all the crazy food I consumed today: beer, donuts, chocolate, chocolate, sandwiches, McFlurries, bacon cheeseburger...

Interesting things... Spaniards seem more serious about marathons. I don't think they sign up until they're better prepared as runners, meaning the average marathoner here is faster. They're also, in typical Spaniard fashion, a little pushy. There were aid people on roller blades giving out spray (I think for muscle pain relief?) and Vaseline. I thought the blades were cute and quirky at first but I quickly realized that these people are not skilled rollerbladers and got in the way A LOT. I saw two people running tied together, a man being pushed in a wheelchair along the course (with a bib on the wheelchair), and who knows what else.

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