Monday, April 21, 2008

It Hurts

Nope I am neither Joe Calzage nor Bernard Hopkins and yet I felt like I was in the ring with both of them at the weekend.
Yesterday morning at 8am I looked like this, ready for my race.



Yes the white light behind me is from the angels smiling down on me.
Let me tell you it was a good race. I hadn't been training enough recently. I joined the ladies, we parked in Cristines lab which left us a 3 km walk to the start. I wasn't impressed. I wasn't ready. I knew it was to thunder and lightning. I brought a complete change of clothes. No sun glasses of course as I had left them in work on Friday, no Suncream, who needs that in a storm and not enough jel packs because simply I forgot. So the light behind is not lightning. It's clear blue sky and bright sun shine.
Yeah Warrior pack the suncream bring a hat.........sure.......I left them on the table.
There was 8000 people milling around the start. There was a 3km fun run for breast cancer, a 10k run, and that semi marathon that I was doing. Thats a smidgin over 21km. The most I had run up to this point in preparation was about 14.5km and even that is not exact.

We took off at 9:30 I had a gel pack I was keeping for after the 10 k mark. I had a half a litre of water, about a pint to sip in between refueling stations that were at every 5k. The sun was beaming down, the crowd was slow to move off. Finally I got over the other side of the Promenade des Anglais were there was more space and settled into my rythm. Why is it the promenade is always English, the Quay is always American and the bar is always Irish?

We turn into Gambetta somewhere before the Negresco and started a long slow 2km climb. It was impressive to see the thousands of people in front of me. I heard some Irish voices. I turned 'Are you girls Irish? ' They were and I felt not so alone and it was good.
The kilometers ticked by. Some guy tapped me on the shoulder and started asking about the emblem on my t shirt. It said 'Marathon Des Sables' No I said that is just a silly thing, a style of shirt, Non, pas de tout, moi je le fais l'anneé dernier...bon ok merci, bon course. Ooops.

Not many crowds and those that were not clapping too much. I was trying not to get discouraged, I knew the girls were already way in front. The race turned a big loop, passed under a tunnel and came back down by the Palais de Medditterain, back onto the prom and back from where we came. Now we are running toward the Port.

At 6 km I was thinking to myself I felt really really good, I wondered where my running buddies were, I fancied that given they were much faster, ran 3 times a week and have been running longer that they would already be around the 8km mark. That was until I heard a voice behind me.....'Target acquired, missles locked, ready to fire' It was Christine, I was perturbed. How the hell could they behind me at 6km?
Both of them were there, then I saw there two friends as well, then I saw the Irish girls still there..... it seems I took off way too fast. I hadn't thought so, and still don't really think so.... I matched the girls for a few KM the banter was fun, I was starting to get hot, when water was available I took two cups one for the head one for the mouth.... We passed by the lab where we had parked that morning, down into the port and back along the Quay des Etais Unis where we had been already not so long ago. I could feel the 10 km mark coming up I watch as the girls started to put distance between them and I , I grabbed at oranges in a box, I had two, I gave one to the person beside me who hadn't seen the opportunity. The Irish women peeled off for the 10k finish I thought about stopping too, we crossed the starting line for the 3rd time once again going along the orginal route..but now toward the airport. I had run this before, I knew I could do it, I continued. Some old guy of about 70 finished his talk with a 10k runner who peeled off and settled in for the duration. Some other old guy spectating, called out the name on his shirt, encouraging him on. The two old guys waved at each other...and Mister 70 went on his way.

There is a watering station I momentarily passed the girls who had stopped, I took water on the run, one and half cups in the gob, half a cup over the head, ......we saluted each other. The passed me with ease soon after, at 13km on a completely straight stretch I had totally lost sight of them. The field had thinned out dramatically, now where as before there was a lot of varying body shapes and sizes, the field was thinner, more uniform, fitter, faster, in better shape. My head was okay but my calves which had been a little tight since the start were starting to ache. Shit I have to get to 15k, if I get to 15k I can finish this bastard.

I was surprised, I started to well up without knowing why. I calmed down keep my rhytmn breath, drink some water, shit Gel pack whayhey around 11km I think.. ....it was like a magic wand, I sucked half it down and it felt like my speed and my ease of running increased, I put it back... I tried it again on 13...the effect was the same I kept the last bit but by 14k I had suck the last smidgin out of it and thrown it away, fuck the environment 'they' will clean up later. This from the guy who carred a small ring of plastic 3 km that morning to find a bin.

I saw the mayor, I saw people I recognised from Monaco. I didn't see any angels. I was sore very very sore. my legs were sore, my heart was sore. I was not stopping. I watched the flags go by in the other direction, 1 hr 30, then 1 hr 45, then 2 hours. I noted this one was the only one of the 3 carried by a woman, each of them had a group around them. The group ran like Chinese security gaurds around the olympic flame, protecting their pace setter as if their lives depended on it. They probably did.

I was aching again, god what will happen if people notice, my eyes welled up, are the red cross going to stop me because I am hurting so bad?
I turned on 15k, There is a God, they had the equivalent of gatorade, bannanas water sugar lumps I took them all I drank down about 2/3s of liter in seconds, wolfed banana and ran back, yes ran back for sugar, I wasn't stopping I was running this bastard to the end....but I was now in unknown territory. I had never run this far before. If I could get to 16k I could finish. I popped raw sugar in my mouth and drank water, I can do this just let me get to 16km. The sugar is gone, it's roasting hot. I am soaking with water and sweat. Now I let a real sob out of myself. I was still passing people up to this point, but now from 16k onwards I felt like I was going backwards. I could see Mister 70 just a 100 meters in front.

I keep telling myself don't race. Don't race. You are only in competition with yourself. I am going to finish this, don't race... I am talking out loud now, I am shouting at myself. 'Com'on Collie you bastard, you are going to finish this fucker. I think of the tri girls blog I read, who called her bike 'The fucker' she will be laughing at me. I think of Gillette, yeah I know, weird, hanging around the end line hugging me when I get there. I think of Lover, who got out of bed and took my photo and went back to bed. I resent it for a moment but I know that deep down when I cross that line I need to be alone for a moment and besides she will be there when I get home with that great smile.

Fuck my legs hurt, I can't do this...it is really fucking sore, God I forgot I have water, I drink what is left. There is 16k written on the road in front of me, this is further than I have ever run. I start looking down the coast from where I have come, I try to see that finishing point that I have passed 3 times on the race already, I try picking out hotels. Mister 70 is about 200 meters in front, some people pass me, then he is 250 meters in front. There is another guy Walking, a big well developed type. Some running club on his shirt. Why is he is walking? Mister 70 passes him. I am breathing, I am cramping, I try stretching my stride.... the guy is walking but I am not any closer. 17k , that's further than I have ever run. Jesus just over 3 to go, thats just one back and forward of the canal stretch where I run, I can do that can't I? Hell I hope so. 18K that is further than I have ever been, but I have lost my way, I have no water left there is a team at the side of the road they have bins of water but nothing to drink with, not stopping I am running this all the way, I dive my hands in and drink while running. I can't get bearings at all. I have no idea what part of the promenade I am in and I am in agony.

Some rock and roll guitarist is playing a slow riff, I want him to rip up the joint but he has been there all morning, now watching the stragglers I am sure it's time for the closing set and he is winding down. It doesn't help. ...

18.5 I am in pain, I don't want to stop, 18.6 I am limping, 18.7 I am swearing at myself 18.8 I am pushing pushing, mister 70 is dissappearing up the street, 18.9 I am crying, Fuck it come on I shout out loud, I don't give a fuck who can hear me and they won't understand anyway, God yes 19km I have run further than I ever thought I could yes only 2 to go, the pain, the cramps Aaaaaaah fuck it, I can't, It is too fucking much I can't.

I stop running, at least I try, my legs don't obey they keep moving as if runing but I am walking, 50 meters, 100 meters 150 meters, how the hell am I going to finish. My legs are like jelly, I am sobbing. My time for 2:15 was optimistic but now I have hit 2:18 and 2k to run and I can barely walk my calves are like cannon balls hanging off my legs.......There is a small man dressed like a Old movie gangster standing at the traffic lights, I am crying, tears streaming down my face, snot cascading down my nose, and I am ashamed. I don't know why, it's just spilling out of me. There is a bunch of teenage girls walking down the promenade, about 20 feet away from this Italian. How do I know he is Italian? Well he lets me know. He lets me have it full blast. I have no idea what it said but it sounded like stop fucking crying you blithering idiot get your finger out of your ass and run to the finish you fuck head. The girls run to him whoooping and cheering me out, I laugh and cry at the same time and I am moving again. I am running again damn it I am going to do it I am going to finish and I am going to finish running. Thanks to him being there and saying whatever he said. I can see the big runner in front of me he is running walking, running walking, Jesus I am at 20k further than I have ever run and I am going to make it, I can see the finish line, now people are cheering me, every time there is a nice word I sob, it's as if they know I need them to say it. Good christ on Calvary this is crucifying me... I am not stopping now, he is just in front of me maybe 100 meters, he is running again, fuck this I have enough of this shit, I am not finishing like this...

I don't know what happened, but I started to stretch out, to sprint, I was getting faster and my strides longer, I was sprinting the last 500 meters at full stretch, maybe it was on 15 meters maybe it was the last kilometer, I don't know but I know I felt like I running hard and fast and It was easy, I flew over 21k, I didn't think about how far I had come, I was getting to that line. I burned him..........I ran past him fast and left him for dead, There is the red carpet there is the finish line there is my foot on it and fuck me I did it. I did it, I did it, I sobbed, I sobbed hard.... I couldn't walk, I was doubled over. I tried walking, my legs wouldn't obey.
I couldn't find my friends, I hobbled over to drink. I could see people getting massaged, I don't know how, I want that, Someone come and see that I am not okay, that I am really hurting...more drink, some asshole pushes me out of the way to get some sustenance I look at him, realising quickly I have finshed before him and in a better mental state..imagine.....
they guy who snips off my running chip looks blankly at me, I want him to hug me and say well done.

I see people with medals, I am hobbling like an old man. I see the guys with boxes stacked in front of them, one of them has a medal in his hand. I ask him is there medals, he says well yes I have one. Thanks I say. I want it. He gives it to me in my hand. Fuck it I want him to put it around my neck and for the band to strike up. I hobble really hobble out. I am not doing that again.
I see the girls.... there are no hugs, a slap on the back from one of them. How fucked up are these people. Nat looks away when I say yes I finished and I cried like a baby. It doesn't fit with her virile image of me I guess. I will always have that soft side and never really be ashamed of it. It's who I am. I don't know what I was crying about, I don't know why I was ashamed out on the course.
This is what I looked like afterwards..........when I had my bath.....and we talked about it, and lover saw it was something special and I still had the head spinning not understanding what I had done nor what I had left on the road behind me...



I finished a half marathon in 2 hours 28 mins and I have a fucking medal. I told my son and he is really really proud. I lost 2kg which is about 4 pounds in weight. If you need to loose weight I don't recommend you try this. My brother called and people seemed to come out of the wood work. The angels had been there all along, they were just letting me do it by myself. But God it hurt.

Will up date you on the ex lawyer moron as well next post.

6 comments:

Gillette said...

Eeeeeeehaaaa!!! I'm so excited for you, My Friend, and so honored you thought of me! This is so beyond cool...to get this blow by blow of all you went through.

And how is Body today?

So, so cool!

Warrior said...

The body wasnt' too bad from the hips up. The head was sunbured. The legs and groin very stiff. Today is much much better just feel in the tendons at the back of my ankles...thanks for you joy...bit of a long post wasn't it?

Moni said...

Wow. Triumphant and glorious victory. I would have dropped at 8k. It goes to show that the body is strong enough to withstand a lot of punishment. What a wonderfull thing to achieve. I can only dream of it!! Congratulations.
You Rock!!!

Warrior said...

thanks Moni, wow, I rock... well Finally hihihi. seriously, thanks, I think my head is still a bit fragile....but I am getting there.

1009 said...

Your experience of the day sounds very much like mine, mate. I finished just a few minutes before you and I also struggled big time on the Promenade in the last few kms. In fact I had to stop a few times to attempt to stretch a cramped hamstring. Several people passed me on the home straight and then they had their own problems and I went past them again.

Like you I was sailing the first bit and, at 10km, there was even a slim chance that I'd finish in under 2 hours. Then, at 14km, my body just turned to me and said, 'Right, this is what we trained for, I've got you this far and now I'm ducking out. From here on in you're on your own, fella'. That's when all my troubles began and the invisible piece of elastic that had connected me to the girl in front for the last 4km started to stretch and stretch.

I don't know which '70 year old' you battled with but I was doing the same with some old geyser in a red running club vest. He finished but the last I saw of him was his feet hanging over the end of a stretcher as he was being slid into the back of an ambulance.

Keep it up. 21.1k is a long way and a great achievement. I'm going for the Nice-Cannes marathon in November but I know that I will have to rethink my whole running philosophy (and loose some weight) to give me any chance at all of completing it.

Warrior said...

Hey 1009, I can't believe it wow. Get in touch man, if you are in the area we can train together if you want. I usually run up in the Canal de Gairaut, .... I am doing Nice Cannes too in November, so cool, thanks for your comment... let me know your race number, I will look you up ;-). If you go to my profile you will find my email addy... Nice to meet you bud!

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