13 March 2013

The Nagoya Marathon [& my left knee's revolt.]

My alternative title: Woah, the Last Time I Posted Was January 29th and It's March 12th, And Shoot. However, I'm not into the blame game, and we all know that title isn't SEO optimized for shiz.

Where have I been? I'll let you in on a secret: the way to beat the late winter blues is to travel every day in February. Works like a charm, and I promise to catch you up soon on the fun times that were.

I'm back, and in my procrastination, I have made a wedding photo album (2 years late), applied to grad school (BAM), figured out that Amos and I should probably save for retirement (yeesh), and ran a marathon (owie).

I now cannot move my left knee and have laid on the couch long enough I feel compelled to blog. So: hello. Let's abruptly jump in, shall we? It's completely narcissistic and Sarah-focused, as alwaysssssSSSS, only this time, I'm including blurry iPhone pics. You're welcome.

MARATHON. I ran it. It was my second one; my first being in Chicago, circa 2008. That race was my first foray into long distance running, and while I had a blast and ran an okay time (4:30-ish), I've come a long way in the running department. Nagoya has a marathon that runs, literally, in front of my house, and I signed up on a I-have-nothing-going-on-in-my-life whim. There was also an element of woah-you-are-getting-to-be-a-chubby-little-housewife thrown in there. (We're all friends here; I'll speak 'ze truth. I have an inner chubster who is always dying to get out, and I spent my life trying to keep him in. Yeah, my inner chub'r is a man. What of it?)

I trained my little heart out, using Hal Higdon's intermediate program, which does two long runs back to back. I was feeling good; I was feeling fast; I was consistently beating my 9-min mile pace.

Then I spent the last month and a half of training skiing, traveling internationally, and contracting bronchitis. Oh, brother. I ran anyway because that is what you do when you are deeply masochistic. Also, that is what you do when the race cost $225 and you have some major guilt about that.

I man'd up, put on the cutest cleanest running outfit that I own, grabbed my iPod, and tied up my huh-these-shoes-are-kinda-old Brooks. I got to the start line and realized that I was not cute by Japanese Women Running Standards. I missed the memo on voluminous and curled hair, full blown make-up, and multicolored fanny-packs.* Regardless, I got swept up in the fun of being one of 20,000 women who are about to do something BIG. (Next time I know to either wear the Minnie Mouse costume, the bunny ears, or at least dress identical to my BFF.)


Marathons here are counted in kilometers, which means there are 42.195km, which can be a long countdown compared to the 26.2 miles. I broke it up into 5km segments to try and keep some degree of sanity, and for the most part, it totally worked.

My first 5K was a bit slow, given the crowds, but totally manageable. The course was a very disappointing out and back, with the only perk being seeing the elite runners sprint by 10K in. So inspring. My little endorphine happy heart was so overwhelmed, I got tears in my eyes. I know; emotions are gross.

The next three 5K segments were right on pace, and the halfway point came fairly quickly. Right before I got there, my left knee decided to start talking, and by talking, I mean aching. I remember distinctly thinking, "This should not hurt like this for at least another hour. I may be screwed." What went through my mind at this point? I can't say it here, but it's a bad word, and it began with the letter F.**

By 18 miles in, my left knee had decided it had enough. It was done. I have no idea what happened: maybe it was my shoes (they were getting old), maybe it was the two 20 mile runs I did training (no knee pain on the first, noticeable on the second, and by the third time over twenty, the actual race, my knee was pissed). Maybe a marathon is a stupid distance to run, or I have genetically not-long-distance-lovin' knees. Moot point. I inz pain.

So much of the sad.
27-28 min. splits until the dreaded last 12K.
Goodbye sub-4:00.  I hate you, left knee. So much.

It was a very, very long last 12K. More like a shuffle... my times skyrocketed (see pathetic screenshot above). I knew I was royally cornholed when I stopped to walk and that hurt worse than running. I kept going, sadly cursing the fact I wasn't going to run sub-four hours, and more than that, my finishing was in jeopardy. I honestly don't know how I finished, and in spite of my disappointment over my time, I'm really PROUD my body made it. It wasn't the most painful experience of my life (a ruptured ovarian cyst gets that honor), but it was up there. And, no I have not given birth yet.

I crossed the finish line and immediately grabbed the handrails for support and slid/fell down into a crouched position. It was a super festive finish line, complete with dashing men in tuxedos who handed out Tiffany boxes and deeply bowed to each finisher. I stumbled through and mumbled something incoherent, and I really wish I could relive that moment because what are the chances another tuxedoed, Tiffany's bearing man is in my future? (Dang.) I also got a sweet t-shirt, a towel, half a banana, and a bottle of water. I can tell that I was out of it because I was really excited about the banana.

I found Amos pretty quickly, but this was Japan and I therefore had to go through the elaborate and needlessly long finish course to grab my bag and food, and - of course - he couldn't come back with me. The problem was I couldn't walk, so I ended up in a wheelchair with two really kind women pushing me around as we tried to find my husband. (The walk may have involved a ramp and a marathon runner the age of my mother who helped pull the wheelchair up said ramp with my pathetic half-her-age ass in it. I about died.) It took 40 minutes to finally arrive to Where The Men Are Allowed, then a long walk to the train station, then a cab from the station to our house because I was not so much capable of walking.

A hot bath, 4 Aleve, some Icy-Hot, and several beers later, I felt much better. Annoyingly, my muscles aren't sore at all, so I seemed to be in decent shape except for the bum knee. While in the race, I was convinced it would be My Last One Ever. Less than 48 hours later, I'm contemplating a third. I tell myself that I need one more to get a sub-4:00 time. Which only goes to show you, my friends, never doubt the power of delusion, masochism, and stubbornness. I got all three in spades.

This time, I will get new shoes, though. I'm not a totally dummy.

Also, because I'm always curious, my running playlist: Florence & The Machine, Macklemore, ZZ Ward, and Britney Spears. I'm a whole-album at a time marathon runner. You got good tunes? You let me know, and right now. I'm tapped out.

Also, Also: one of the food stations on the marathon had boxes of MUSHROOMS for runners to grab. Japan is weird.

*Confidential to British friends: Fanny Pack. HAHAHAHAHAHA.
** JLaw for life.

1 comment:

  1. Sorry to hear about your bum knee!! Way to go finishing anyways!


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