Sunday, May 24, 2009

Marathons...why do I do it?

So I forgot to mention that yesterday I saw Hamlet's castle in Elsinore. We crossed over to Sweden and on to cities I've only heard of in books.

So today for the marathon, we were supposedly promised what the Dane's call "picnic weather." I left for the marathon wearing just a long shirt and shorts, a typical marathon uniform for me, but I was freezing! Perhaps the Dane's definition of picnic weather is vastly different from this Phoenix girl's definition. I was very cold, but we started the marathon in this beautiful setting overlooking spectacular buildings that was just a step back centuries in time. The buildings were a myriad of colors and a gold clock in city hall square that rang out just as the marathon started. I had to appreciate all the beautiful people I was running with...Tom Brady look-alikes abound here: small beady eyes and strong Nordic jaws and blonde hair. Everyone was built to run. They were lanky and muscular, but not too muscular--they all looked totally fit.

Then we took off and it was just beautiful scenery, right along the canal banks and colorful buildings and tulips and lavender blooming and the smell of Belgian waffles cooking for breakfast. I felt good and strong and was having a ball running. I kept thinking...this could be my favorite marathon ever. Running through the land of beauty. We ran through a park with Danish families actually having a picnic, so I suppose it is picnic weather. The Copenhagen symphony serenaded us at around kilometer 10, kids played drums and tons and tons of spectators aligned the streets with signs I couldn't understand. It was all awesome. We passed the little mermaid, which was so small I didn't know what I was looking at. We passed people dressed up in Brazilian samba costumes dancing samba through the street. At kilometer 8, however, the skies darkened with ominous looking clouds overhead and by kilometer 14, downpour. I mean a shower. I was soaked. I kept worrying about my camera I was running with and my iPod. So I tried to cover my shirt over my fuel belt and strung the headphones under my shirt. I passed the halfway point at 2:05, on par for a 4:10 finish if I could run the first half the same as the second half. But the rains kept coming and got harder and stronger. People were dropping out with hypothermia. So much for my picnic weather. It was crazy. I have never felt like that in race. I started to freeze and my arms started to go numb. I couldn't warm up. I thought about even backing out of the race. It was awful. I kept thinking...why do people do marathons? This is torture. I did this to myself. It was so cold and I kept wrapping my shirt over my hands trying desperately to warm up, but no such luck. It poured the whole race. I then got a second wind and was able to pound it out at kilometer 39 to 42, but at the finish, I have never felt so sick. It wasn't like the typical legs hurting and tired, but I was just pure exhausted. Someone handed me a gatorade bottle and it was everything in me just to take it. I couldn't get the timing chip off my shoe, someone had to do it for me, and then I had to ask someone else to tie my shoe back up because I knew if I bent down, I wouldn't be getting back up.

I was drenched and exhausted and had no energy left. But then I had to waddle back to my hotel for a mile. I had a mylar blanket around me, yet totally shivered. Delicious looking men were stopping and asking if I was okay. I wanted to say "No, please take me in your arms and carry me back to my hotel." But I realized I was gross and so just smiled and said "yes, I'm fine."

I got back to my hotel and took off my shoes and my left sock was covered in blood. Somewhere along the way, I lost my pinkie toe nail. And I had blisters all over my feet. I had taped up my feet, but the rain washed it off. Every step I took during the race was through large puddles of water, so I was just drenched from the top and bottom of my body. I had blisters everywhere. I brought a first aid kid and Band-aid blister coverings with me and thought that would be enough, but I'm afraid not. I usually don't blister like that. I don't know if I ran harder because of having to run through puddles or what. I even was completely salted. Salt had crystalized on my eyelids to the point it looked like a bad make-up job. I don't even get like that running in 100 degrees in the desert. So what gives?

I was shivering pretty badly so needed to get out of my wet clothes asap. I felt so sick and nauseated and everything was spinning. I swear I have never had this kind of reaction from a race...not even the Antarctica marathon which was much, much, much colder.

But as soon as I lied down, the sun came peering through the curtains of my hotel room. I looked out the window and the sky was perfectly clear and not a cloud in sight...ahh, here is the picnic weather. I went outside in a t-shirt and I was hot. Say what???? Why did this wait till right after the marathon?

I finished the marathon in a paltry 4:27, not a PR, but honestly, 4:27 was the best I had in me. I don't think I could have even mustered a 4:26. I was disappointed with my time, but Copenhagen, I gave you everything I had. There was nothing in me when I crossed that finish line. However, to look on the bright side, 4:27 is my birthday, so if I'm going to get a bad time, it might as well be that one.

The day turned out to be painful, but I managed to walk around Stroget, a wonderful shopping area and watch the children run after the birds and couples eating ice cream, which just goes to show you how much the weather changed in a matter of an hour. So not fair!

On a side note, Nordic language is very interesting. They take all the letters of the alphabet, add some more, and then make a word out of it. I can't imagine how many pages school books are or the Bible for that matter. It's amazing.