December 17th, 2017.
I have traveled all the way to Pisa, Italy, to run my first marathon. After 6 months serious running training 4-5 times a week, I was ready to run it.
Being a Dane, going to Pisa might seem pretty absurd, but I did this because of two reasons. First and most important, I wanted to finish on in 2017 before leaving for Asia for 3 months, second because Pisa has one of the highest time limits in Europe! At a time limit of 6 hours and 30 minutes, I felt certain that even if my body broke down I could get my “tick in the box” and say I’ve completed a marathon.
So after a couple of pre-relax days in Pisa, it was time on December 17th. I woke up at 6:30 am and got my 3 eggs and bacon for breakfast, and walked down to the starting area.
Since this was December, Pisa is really, really cold. It was 3 degrees, and I had optimistically just taken my very thin windbreaker outside my two running shirts I use during the summer. This was a mistake. The whole 30 minute walk down to the starting area and an hour of waiting before the start, I was freezing like crazy.
The running experience
This freezing made my body weird, so I never got to use the toilet before starting. That resulted in immediately feeling I both had to pee and potential diarrhea.
This is the absolutely worst start you can imagine. Running with a bad tummy is the number one killer, especially if it’s close to diarrhea. I decided to start off VERY slow the first kilometers, to see how it went.
And it didn’t. Tummy hurt a lot.
But after 4km, at the first drinking stand, I found a toilet. I went in, sat down for what felt like ten minutes, and… I was ready! Body back to normal.
My body heat was back to normal, my body was emptied and I was ready to run.
The good hours
The next couple of hours was very enjoyable. I ran and I ran, and my body just enjoyed it.
I remember after seeing the 21km sign, that I was surprised how easy this was. Marathons are a thing I’ll do often in the future!
… And then I hit 25km.
25km wasn’t BAD. It was just annoying. At the water station at 25km, I walked a bit longer than you’re supposed. And then at 26km, it was worse. Then at 27km, I was getting desperate.
At 28km I had to walk. I had hit the wall.
From 28km, every single kilometer was a disaster.
At 28km I looked at the time – around 3 hours, and started doing the math. If I walked the rest, it would take roughly 3 hours. That would result in a total time of 6 hours, just 30 min less than the limit.
This gave me peace. I knew that unless my body broke down and I couldn’t walk, I would be fine.
But obviously, I couldn’t just start walking only. So I kept mixing and running. From 28km, it was mostly running… And 29km.. A bit less… And at 30km.. A bit less.
For every kilometer, I ran, it felt like someone just took a heavy spade and hit me in the face.
“NEVER run a marathon again you ****ing idiot”.
Every time I saw a kilometer sign, I told myself, never again.
Imagine you’ve been running more than 21km for every weekend for more than 6 weeks. And when you are at 32km, less than 10km to your biggest running goal – and your legs just can’t move. I was absolutely not at a stage where I could run. My body was DEAD.
Around me, people were dead. Until the finish line, everyone behind and in front of me was switching between running and walking. And it was the same peoples back I saw kilometer after kilometer.
Then, at 34km, the 4:45h ballon running team came. They cheered for me. I just laughed and kept walking. I was surprised they came that late.
Two kilometers after, at 36km, the 5h ballon running team came. At this time, I felt so much pain in every body part I had. But I couldn’t let the 5-hour team get pass me.
For 2.5 kilometers I managed to follow them until I gave up. They killed me.
But then came the 40km sign. And I could see an end to it all.
41km and we were in the center of Pisa. Keep walking and running in a desperate manner.
42km, 200m before the goal.
And finally, I saw the finish line. I ran all I could – and I got in at 5 hours and 4 minutes. Absolutely dead. Got my medal. Decided never again.
Finishing the marathon was a very big goal of mine.
This is also the case for most people, but to me, it means something special. When I was 18 years old, 105kg, I decided to take control of my life. Step one was I signed up for a marathon and lost 25kg the following year. I got injured before the 2009 marathon, but I had managed to take control over my life in so many ways.
Finishing this marathon is a celebration for me – like a 10-year celebration of that original goal and decision.
And I’m fucking proud I did this. But never again. 6 Days after, and I can still feel it.