How I spend 4 hours hating running

“I hate running”, a t-shirt boldly stated at kilometer 40.6.


Hysterically I shouted: “Me too!” and almost bumped into a runner who had started walking.


I veered to the left to avoid the weakling walker and realized that I had lost count. Frustrated, I started again: “1”, breathe-in, breathe-out, “2”, breathe-in, breathe-out…


I really hated running.


I also hated the owner of the shirt who happens to be spectating and not plodding along next to me.


I started to hate the race and the sun and the burning feeling in my legs. I loathed the nauseating feeling in my gut and was angry at my irritating running belt. I got rid of the belt at 28 kilometers, along with my precious gels. I regretted giving them up and had worried about a looming wall ever since.


Most of all, I hated myself for thinking I could do this; for thinking I could run marathon significantly faster than I have ever done before. I hated that I needed to count to distract myself from thoughts of stopping.


“24”, breathe-in, breathe-out. “25”, breathe-in, breathe-out…


I rounded the last turn onto the famous Coolsingel finish stretch.


A year before I had finished the ¼ marathon on this same road. I had run hand in hand with a then heavily pregnant friend. She was happy to be completely her last race before labor. I was relieved to be running at all after nursing an Achilles injury that cost me weeks of running and the chance to run my first full marathon.


This year I felt no relief. I looked at the crowds and wished I could feel a glimpse of happiness or pride or joy. I wished I could find something positive in this moment to cherish forever: After all, this would certainly be the last 30 seconds of my last marathon ever.


“26”, breathe-in, breathe-out…


I crossed the finished line of the Rotterdam Marathon feeling exhausted and disappointed.



I had just run a 10:33 min marathon PB on an unusually warm spring day.


Why did I have this overwhelming feeling of defeat?


I had stuck to my pacing plan perfectly. I vowed I would not start walking in the last 10 km (except for the water stations; everyone knows water stations are neutral zones). I didn’t walk. I kept running despite thinking of walking and stopping every step of the way.


Why was I not grateful for what I had achieved?


The truth is I had wanted to run it faster. I mean: Even faster. Naively, I thought I might have a good day and get near four hours. Near four hours?! My actual time of 4:25 hours sounds like a joke compared to four hours.

Why did I feel this way? Did I have impractical goals and unrealistic expectations? Perhaps. Did I set myself up for disappointment from the starting line?


I knew from experience how much a marathon hurt and how long it would take me to complete it, but somehow, I thought that 5 months and slightly more training would magically turn me into Paula Radcliff.


Ok. Stop. Enough whining.


It’s been a month since the marathon and I am still moping about my finish time and dragging my feed to write this post.


Instead of being overly dramatic, let me take a moment to critically examine the unattainable goals that lead to my defeat:

  1. Run a PB
  2. Run a negative split
  3. Don’t walk, especially after 30km
  4. Finish strong

None of these goals seems overly ambitious for a second marathon and indeed, I mostly achieved them:

  1. PB: I ran/walk my previous marathon in 04:35:51, so 04:25:17 is an undeniable PB!
  2. Negative split: My halfway split was 02:12:08, so while I technically ran a positive split, my second half was only 1:01 slower! I’m not going to split any hairs on this, I think that is darn good for a warm day!
  3. No walking: Technically I walked through the water stations, but to be honest, it would have been hard to run since most of the field was walking at this point.
  4. Finish strong: Below is the race’s chart of my splits. My turquoise line has a massive incline at the end, showing I ran the last 2km of the marathon faster than any other part of it.

I have achieved my goals. I have no reason to feel that I could or should have run faster on a day that hot. Sure, it was not the best run or experience, but it is also important to be thankful for the things I did achieve.


While still in a moping mood and procrastinating on Instagram this week, I read an inspiring post by @peteruns26.2. He wrote that you only fail when you fail to learn or you don’t change your ways to improve for the next one.


I didn’t fail.


I learned that I have an amazing stubbornness to push through when my body doesn’t want to do anything but stop. I learned that I can have a kick at the end despite feeling like I am dragging myself to the line.


Secretly I have also started improving myself for the next one. I have run 65 km in the last 3 weeks and I am planning on running 36 km this coming week.


After all, I hated running the last 10 km of this marathon. I cannot possibly allow this to be my very last experience of running 42.195 kilometers.

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