Note: you can read this post in Hungarian on Futóblog.
For the second time, the Marathon is harder. During the first you feel like writing history: you’ve never run this much before. You’re proving yourself. Levelling up is at stake.
When you run it the second time, you know what to do: been there, done that, nothing to see. Moreover, there’s the time to preferably beat, in my case 3:58’09”.
Just like last year, I haven’t prepared properly this year either. I’m the kind of runner who trains randomly. When I feel like it I run around the city somewhere and the distance also depends on my mood at the time. The only exception is when I participate in some online challenge, that’s how I ran almost 200 km in July. Anyway, it’s all quite unprofessional.
Regardless, I joined the 3:30′ pace-setters at the start, come what may. The weather was exceptionally good, cool and cloudy. My co-workers who ran relay complained of the heat afterwards, but that didn’t bother me much. Last year it was worse, the participants were sprinkled by hoses. This time not even the inflatable gate that showers water was switched on. At the start we were warned of the wind on the riverbanks, also something I wasn’t bothered by.
I managed to keep up with the white balloons until the first relay point, where I spent about half a minute looking for my partner in the wrong place. (I was also the first member of a three-man relay.) Moral: make sure to read up on the correct place to switch beforehand and pay attention to the signs.
From that point we soldiered on together with Bence keeping even distance from the pace-setters. We passed the half-point at 1:49′, which is only a five minute improvement to last year, but at the time it felt so much better.
Last year I started wearing out at the 27th kilometre and it wasn’t any different this time either. The garden variety muscle ache in my legs I could live with but my left ankle started stabbing at certain angles as well. This injury I sustained at Volt Festival jumping in front of a stage. I tried rolling on my distal sole minimise the pain.
I first walked at a bridge ramp and soon after I fell behind of my relay partner. I was called out by an English guy not to walk so for a while we had a chat. He very much liked the city and the competition, particularly how well organised it was.
At the 33rd kilometre I met more and more relay runners resting by the track and I envied them a lot. This was the only time when I imagined how awesome it would feel to lie down in the grass for a while and give the whole thing up, after all this is just madness. Rather, I continued and amused myself with making calculations of still improving my time by running 6 minute kilometres.
Meanwhile some chemical my body has released stopped the pain in the ankle or maybe I just learned how to step right. In exchange I started staggering funnily when my calves cramped after landing. When that happened I needed to walk a little to recover.
At the 37th sign we finally left the riverbank, no way not to finish after that. Unfortunately all the runners who’d conserved their strength better started taking over. I was calculating possible finish times at every GPS notification. The frequency of the cramps increased.
I’ve lost all the accumulated time advantage in the last two kilometres: simply after all the flying phases my legs cramped badly I tried stopping to stretch with little to no success. I managed to run a couple hundred metres by pulling my toes upwards as much as I could in the shoes. I was going to finish crawling if I had to.
Nearing the finish line I managed to imitate continuous running to have this picture taken.
However, on the last two hundred or so metres I had to resort to walking again despite the cheering coming from the sides. It wasn’t like I didn’t want to run after all.
I helplessly watched the clock tick over my time from last year and hobbled through the finish line at 3:59’47”. There was some malfunctioning of the timing system so the gross time ended up to be the official. Anyhow, I managed to smile a bit for the cameras.
Most likely this won’t end up being my favourite competition, but heck, I’ve finished two sub-4h marathons now. Next time I’ll be even faster.