Sunday, 3 May 2015

Karen writes: Rotorua Marathon 2015

I bought new running shoes on Thursday.  Why do I always notice painful ankles and legs in an abstract sort of way, keep on running, and finally figure out that my shoes are past their best long after I should?  So new shoes, two days before a marathon, the shop only had half a size bigger and an older model, my least favourite, version 19.  I was sure I could go for a quick run on Thursday night, ah no.  Friday Kate and myself hopped in the car to drive to Rotorua, no time for running. Saturday...race day, oops.

So, little training done over the last 8 weeks since Ironman, brand new un-broken in shoes, and I rather insanely decided I wanted to try a totally untested and un-recommended pre-race breakfast of buttered banana bread and coconut yogurt with chi-chocolate almonds.  If you are going to break the rules, you should do a good job of it!

Race day, well it was picture perfect, mild, clear sky, no wind, it actually got quite warm out on the road.  We have been doing this run for the last 5 years, things have changed during that time, the use of music probably the most obvious.  Nearly 1200 people on the road, so many of them had earphones plugged in I struggled to find too many to talk to, at least among those I could catch!  But that was OK, you get to a point where you can get lost in your own thoughts quite nicely and before you know it another kilometer has disappeared under your shoes.

Kilometer 27 was where I had a rude awakening.  I was pottering up a hill, and I became aware that something hurt.  I looked down to see a wasp attached to the underside of my upper arm, being battered as my arm swung back and forth. It took a few moments to flick the poor thing off, by then the damage was done, to me and it.  I haven't had a sting for decades, didn't think I was allergic, but with near on another couple of hours to go I did wonder what effect the injected toxin would have with muscles working hard and blood pumping furiously.  Panic!  No, not quite, but I did get a little paranoid for a bit, am I breathing harder (no, it's a hill), is my airway closing up (ah, open mouth), can I feel that itching crawling up my arm (yes).  I thought about asking an ambulance officer when I ran past, but figured they probably would ask me the same questions... are you allergic... how's your breathing?  So I kept running, arm sticking out to stop the now extremely sore lump rubbing on my side, until the next distraction, the collapse of a fellow runner at kilometer 30. Mercifully he had extremely painful leg cramps rather than something more sinister and I got on my way again after myself and some other runners and bystanders helped stretch some life back into his muscles.  It was really nice how many people stopped to offer practical help, and plenty slowed and asked if we were OK before carrying on.  While I understood completely why some just stepped around us (we were in the middle of the road shoulder where the runners were going through) and kept going I admit to being a bit maliciously pleased when I caught some of them up and overtook them later, perhaps the rest made my legs a bit stronger because the final 12 km didn't seem as hard as it usually is.

Race finished, half an hour slower than my usual time for Rotorua, but still 25% of the field behind me.  Kate finished, she reported that it was a good race for her too.  I walked home via the usual ice-cream shop, oh bliss, 3 scoops of dreamy creamy pleasure in a paper cup, new favourite green tea to go with the black doris plum and fig and honey.

So home again and back to the real world, and I have nothing on my time-table until August. That is a worry, I'm not sure if I can get out of bed to run without something a tiny bit scary hanging over my head as motivation...what next?