I have participated in a few marathon arrangements over the last few years, but today was the first time I actually completed my first full marathon. There has been so much back and forth about this. First it was postponed because of a heatwave, and then the postponed marathon was cancelled, because one person died in the half marathon that did take place as planned, and several people ended up in the hospital because of heat stroke and dehydration.
Then there was this group of runners who organized an informal marathon, so that we would be able to at least do this run that we had trained so much for. The whole thing was quite controversial, as there was a heatwave expected for this day too. So naturally there was a lot of focus on being careful on this run, listen to your bodies, don’t push yourselves too far etc. There was not going to be any injuries or any type of scandals in this race, that was our responsibility!
Before we started running, at 5 o’clock in Tel Aviv this morning, we stood in 42 seconds silence in respectful memory of the runner who died last week in this same city. And then we started running down the promenade with an absolutely beautiful view of the sea, the waves, the old city of Yafo still lit by streetlights, as it was still relatively dark. More than half of the marathon was ran right next to the Mediterranean, – I totally LOVED it! First we ran south from Tel Aviv Port where we started, and after returned we ran north. The nice thing was that we kept coming back to our starting point, where I had my very supportive family refilling my water packs and encouraging me. Our son would come and meet me and run with our group a bit in the area, which everyone loved, – and so did he! 🙂
We were a small group of runners, and that made it very nice and friendly. We talked along the way, and some of us even got informally interviewed by a reporter from Runner’s World who ran along with us for the first half! 🙂
I smiled to pictures, and had such a great time running. I really, really enjoyed the experience. I was happy with my pace, did not push the speed too much, and really thought I would finish strong. But in the second part of the marathon I started having signs of dehydration, and I guess I started drinking more too late, because in my 34th kilometer, I all of a sudden became acutely dizzy and could not run/walk straight, which really brought me into panic. (*I guess that is what starting a marathon by standing in silence for someone who died running recently does to you…) And I really, really did NOT want a scene of any kind. Collapsing and needing an ambulance was to be avoided if it could be! So I started walking, drinking lots, eating more energy-GU-chews, and tried to help myself as best as I could.
The thing was also that I was very confused as to how far I had gotten. There was no marking of kilometers along the way, and I was convinced my runkeeper had told me I was close to the end… (I still think it was giving me mistaken information, about both time and distance, but there is of course the chance that I could have been confused due to the dehydration.) As I didn’t know the route very well, I also thought I could see the finishing area, but it was just somewhere that looked similar. So when I actually opened my runkeeper and looked at it, I found that I had several kilometers left, and I guess that threw me off mentally too. (*And really, running a marathon is at least 50 % mental!)
I had so not expected this type of thing to happen! It really shouldn’t have, as I had invested in this great water-backpack type of thing, so I had water available at all times, in addition to water stations along the way. I thought I drank little sips all the time, but I guess it was not enough. And I had talked about how strange it is when people start walking at the end, after doing so well for the great majority of the race! Why would they not just push themselves a little longer?? Well, now I know from personal experience how that can happen!!!
This is when my wonderful support group of a family came and met me, cheered me on and encouraged me. So I tried to walk a little faster, run a little bit in between, but after having stopped running, my legs cramped up pretty badly when trying to start running again. And, after having drunk a lot of water all at once, I had this painful pressure in my chest, which made me want to take it easy too.
Anyway, – I finished! Which is the main thing. I thought to myself out there: If I can’t run, – I’ll walk if I have to. I’ll crawl if I must. I really, really wanted to finish my 42.2 kilometers!
I am filled with a deep respect for people who finish marathons strong! It is not a small thing, let me tell you! And I am motivated to keep training, and get ready for the Jerusalem marathon next year. I know it will be a challenge. Here we will probably not have the heat we had to deal with in Tel Aviv today (29 degrees towards the end), but here we have hills, major hills. Anyway, that is a long way away, but it is still nice to think that there hopefully will be another chance.
Here is a photo of me finishing my marathon. I was filled with a cocktail of emotions at the time. I was relieved and disappointed, happy and sad, smiling and crying at the same time. And I was really thankful for my health and that I had actually finished my 42.2!