Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Karen writes: Rotorua Marathon 50th aniversary

Been so busy I haven't thought about writing.  Too many other things to do. As happens.  Anyway, last night I went off for a short run along the coast as the official start of the newest training effort which is for the Wellington Marathon in 6 weeks.  I was feeling very grumpy by the end of my run.  It was a fast (for me) 6km, beautiful weather, lovely setting by the sea, but the consequences of inattention, a healthy dose of idiocy, and the biology of the overweight runner meant that I came home with nasty chafing in several places, and blisters on my feet.  I paused to reflect that just over a week before I had run a whole marathon with not one single problem, but a short run with poor preparation and I paid for it.

So to the Rotorua 50th anniversary marathon.  Kate and myself headed off on the Friday, shopped our way down the island, settled in at the hotel, did the registration, dinner, icecream and grocery thing and we were ready for a fun day on Saturday. Weather was just perfect, but I wasn't brave enough to set off in the morning without my trusty polyprop top.  It's a scruffy, fuzzy old thing with stripes, I always think I will throw it away in a bin along the roadside somewhere when I take it off but I always tie it round my waist and bring it home because it is an old faithful and 'I might still need it'. There was lots of hype down at the start and 1000's of people. The higher than usual numbers became more obvious when it took minutes to get to the start-line after the gun went off and the first couple of km it was a case of literally squeezing between people who were walking or had obviously started out way closer to the front than their actual speed should have indicated.  The field never did spread out that much, usually I can count on at least some time sort-of by myself, that wasn't the case this year.  So I had a captive audience and talked, talked a lot.  At one point I ran a whole 10km without noticing it because the conversation was so intense. I had met an amazing woman who had come out the other side of an extraordinarily traumatic experience, she had reached a point where the world was returning to some sort of order and her positive strength shone through, we shared some stories and I lost her at a drink station but ran on with plenty to think about. I just love these 'bubbles' where you share someones life briefly in the most personal way, you never see or speak to them again, but you end up with a joint point in time that you just never forget.  We had reflected on the strangeness of this as we talked too.

The run went well overall, as at Ironman I walked less, but ran slower.  I felt strong, my inner ankles got sore towards the end, but nothing else hurt. I had a chat to a first-time marathoner from the local Te Puru runners, she looked strong as she neared the finish, and I crossed the line with my second worst marathon time ever of 4 hours 56, a full 15 minutes slower than my typical Rotorua time.  However, there was good news. I was 2294th out of 3513 finishers, that meant there was a good 35% of the total field BEHIND me, I'm usually in the last 10%.  Even better, I was in the top 55% of female participants, that is SO cool! So perhaps my poor run time was contributed to by something other than just my deteriorating running pace, there might have been an influence from having 42km of overtaking, going round and dodging out of the way of runners who had misjudged their own abilities.

I got my medal, always a priority. There was powerade at the finish which was an improvement from recent years where you had to find a watertank and help yourself to just water. Of course I walked back to the hotel via the lovely ice-cream shop, fig and honey icecream 2 scoops, 1 scoop of the new black doris and creme fraiche. I was in paradise as I wandered along the road, grimy, smiling idiotically, dipping into my icecream. I got a few grins back and lots of congratulations from people who were taking a more sensible approach to a Saturday.

The daylight hours after a marathon are almost impossible to describe in any way that makes sense. Everyone seems to react differently, but for me time feels suspended, you are flat but high, dont know what to do with yourself, feel like food then dont, thirsty then not, sleepy but strangely alert. I'm fortunate that I dont get the extreme pain others describe, but I find the post marathon experience weirdly unsettling but supremely satisfying, its an addictive sort of feeling, perhaps because the state is so hard to achieve.

So another one down.  We headed home via the Fat Dog cafe, my traditional waffles, berries with lashings of real whipped cream went down a treat.  In the car we dissected our experience, we always see different things but what we agreed on was that we are both carrying far too much weight.  While on this occasion I wasn't prepared to give up my post race treats, I really don't want to run another fat marathon. It's just too hard on my body so it's time to try yet another approach to get round the odd effects of endurance training and the ever annoying thyroid problem.  Back to the research, the challenge is on. Here Kate, would you like to finish off the last of my stash of mint chocolate?

Oh, and the T'shirt this year was yellow.