Friday, January 7, 2011

The Marathon Report

WooHoo!  In the bag!  I have just completed my first marathon, the 34th Tiberius Marathon - and I couldn't be prouder!  Unofficial time:  4:40:15 - of course Garmin had me in at 4:37:43 but we'll wait for the official results.

The plan was for everyone to leave for Tiveria Wednesday afternoon, and spend a relaxing afternoon and evening at the hotel.  Since I booked and arranged full board for all of us, I thought it would be a nice treat for my son and his family.  Car problems made the delay staggered, and our car arrived by 5:30 pm (my hubby, mother-in-law & granddaughter), and my son didn't arrive until 9:00 pm.  It was a 2 1/2 hour trip and I was excited the entire way.

I picked up my run kit and quickly checked out the exhibits.  I was more interested in getting to my evening meal, as I wanted as much time as possible to digest before the next day!  There was a pasta dinner,but I chose not to go to that, instead we had a meal together, in the dining room, and I was still able to carb up on rice & lentils, whole grain bread and egg noodles.  I'm NOT into all that loading.  I figure if I just eat smartly and enough, I'll be fine. 

I didn't get to bed until about 10:30 pm after I finally kicked out my kids & grandchildren who were having a ball in the hotel room!  I slept well enough, and woke at 5:40.  (Funny but that's my usual wake up time for my regular runs!)  I went to an early breakfast at 6:30 am - and because I don't usually eat before any run - I had a cup of coffee and a small bowl of granola with bran flakes.  I was so worried about having anything in my stomache to come back at me.  I've read so many race reports where that was a big complaint, so I wanted to be safe.

Funny thing happened, while sitting in the dining room with my husband and son, suddenly my husband says, "hey that looks like Neimah" (our 3 year old granddaughter).  But since that would be ridiculous, her room was on the third floor, and we were in the dining room, how could that be.  Sure enough, it was her.  Dressed only in an oversized t-shirt, crying.  It seems she came out of her room on the third floor and was waundering around.  Some man brought her down in the elevator, and deposited her in the front of the dining room to be found by her parents!  This story could really only have a happy ending here in Israel, where everyone feels a connection to each other, and really and truly treats each other like family.  I shudder to think of what might have happened.... 

Back to the race...

The Bet Shemesh Running Club!

My family suprised me by all wearing special Running Bubby t-shirts.  It was a riot!!

We lined up to race just before 9:00 am - and I wanted to run with the 4:30 pacer, but there wasn't one!  Since I could not possibly do the marathon faster, I knew I had to pace myself.  There were only 900 participants, but it was a very lively and electric atmosphere.  You could feel the energy coming off all the runners and it was hard not to be affected by the excitment!  For the past week I had so much adrenilin running through me, now finally, I could use it!

Edo and Eli paced with me for much of the first half.  Little did I know that I was their pacer!

My plan was to run a 6:15 pace for the first half, and then see if I could take a few more seconds off after the half.  Well, even though I was advised by so many people, and countless bloggers and articles NOT to go out too fast, I still made the big mistake of running my first half too fast.  For the first 18 km I was running anywhere from a 5:59 to a 6:15.  I just didn't realize how important those few extra seconds per kilometer were and how they really add up.  And, to top it off, of course I didn't feel like I was going to fast.  I kept looking at my garmin, and slowing down when I saw my pace pick up, but it really was too late.

By the half, my average pace was 6:26 - not bad and a bit off my desired pace, but the faster kilometers killed me.  However, I was okay with it.  A 2:16 half was okay.  But now, I started to worry that my second half was going to fall off because I was feeling tired.  I was taking 1/2 size gels about every 6 kilometers and I decided to walk through the water checks for the rest of the race.  By the time I hit 27 km I reached the infamous 'wall'.  Oh boy.  But I was in that place many times during my training runs, and I knew that if I dug really deep, I could weather the 3 - 4 kilometers that it usually took me to get past it.

It was very, very difficult - and by 32 km - when I had clocked in at 3:22 - a similar time to my other 32 km long runs, I knew I was in a bad place.  I called my husband on my cell phone and cried.  "I have 10 km to go and it's just too hard.  I know I can do this, but it's just so hard."  He gave me lots of encouragement and told me not to give up that I could do it.  I hung up the phone and cried for another minute.  I will not give up - I promised myself then.

At this point, my hips started to burn a little, and my legs got so heavy.  I felt like I had cement boots on, and every step was like running through mud.  Again, I walked through the water stops, and gave myself incredible encouragement to pick it up and run again.  However, by 35 km - it was time to disconnect.  I couldn't comprehend the continuing pain, but furthermore, it was becoming exhausting battling with myself.  My brain kept telling me to just stop.  Enough.  But as corny as it sounds, there arose a tiny voice inside me that kept pushing me forward.  And as each kilometer passed - the voice grew louder and with it - my determination to finish what I had started so many weeks ago. 

By the time I got to the last 5 km of the race, I knew I could finish.  Counting down from 5 is not hard to do and I counted every single quarter kilometer.  5 km to go, 4.75 km to go all the way down.  My other battle was nausea.  I think I had one too many gels and by this point, I thought I was going to upchuck it all.  (But there was nothing to throw up anyway!).  Plain and simple - pure determination got me to the end.  And I can't believe that until the very end, my brain kept telling me to stop!

I arrived at the finish line in tears.  It was such an overwhelming experience - there are almost no words.  I don't know which part I was more proud of.  Fighting the battle with my inner evil voice to quit - and winning, or over coming all the pain my legs and hips took and finishing.  It was truly a culmination of 19 weeks of training and dreaming - and I had done it!

My family was there to great me with signs of support, and my husband convinced the guards to allow him to jump the barrier to take my picture.  Because it is an International Marathon - the security was tight, and they were not allowing too many deviations from security procedures.

The first thing I wanted was a cold, cold drink and to just sit down!!!  I had a pinched muscle in one of my gluts and it took a lot to get it to let go.  I picked up my medal and made my congrats to all my other team mates who fininshed before me.  A hot bath was on the horizon and I couldn't stop dreaming about it.

After checking out of the hotel - we had a post run celebratory lunch.  All the members of the running club were there, as were many, many other runners.  I just didn't have an appetite to eat so much, and so only ate lightly.  I was incredibly thirsty, and had an enormous craving for diet coke!!  We took this family photo just before leaving.

I will say that the first words that came out of my mouth upon reaching the finish line were, "I'm never, ever doing that again."  But after a couple hours, I was already dreaming about how I'll do much better next time - and be very careful to only run at my recommended pace.  I'm not sure if I'll run another marathon between now and next year's Tiberius Marathon - but for now I will bask in the glory and spotlight of being a Marathoner.  Being a member of that exclusive group that less that 1/2% of the world's population belongs to.  I think that's pretty good for now.

Thanks for sharing,


  1. way to go Running Bubby. I am so proud of you.

  2. Congratulations on your amazing 1st marathon, Bubby! I went through the same experience on my 1st marathon last October.

    Good luck and run safely.

  3. Great job! You did it!
    You only faded 8 minutes in the 2nd half , which isn't bad for ur very first.
    Bask in ur upcoming soreness..and associated feeling of pride!
    Even bubbys need to do new things 8)

  4. @Arthur - thanks! It is an amazing feeling, isn't it!
    @Paul - you've been a great support, thanks Paul. I look forward to reading your upcoming runs and hope to be able to follow with many more of my own. Who say's 50 isn't the new 30!?!

  5. Yo Jenny,
    How is the soreness today?


  6. Wow! How exciting! You fought through the last 10K to do it. Isn't it amazing how the human mind and will can overcome "voices" and pain. Congratulations!!