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:
- Run a PB
- Run a negative split
- Don’t walk, especially after 30km
- Finish strong
None of these goals seems overly ambitious for a second marathon and indeed, I mostly achieved them:
- PB: I ran/walk my previous marathon in 04:35:51, so 04:25:17 is an undeniable PB!
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.