You have it in the diary for months. You really train. You really, really plan. You get to the start line. Then sh*t happens. This is one of those stories.
Let me start with a BIG disclaimer: I took part in a marathon in relay. That’s right, I did not run the whole 42k – I chose the shortcut instead (love shortcuts)! We had a team of 4 and each of us did our bit. Mine was to run the first 9k. In one of the easiest marathons in the world, by the way: the Zurich Marathon.
So I did as people do. I (sort of) follow a sensible plan mixing up runs and strength training. We plan all the stages of the relay with precision. Which trains to take to get around Zurich. Our friend D. parks the car in finish line area the night before – so we can comfortably drive back home the next day. We consider exactly what to take in the backpack so we have it all covered but it’s not too heavy – extra Iphone charge, cash, magnesium, paracetamol and packets of healthy haribos (kidding). We check the weather forecast: cold with a 20% chance of rain. Fine.
And so it starts…
The Plan: As I leisurely arrive to the starting line, sunshine gently warms my skin. Last year the weather was gorgeous – it’s late April after all. I find my start position immediately thanks to clear signage. When the race begins all I can feel are those tiny pretty butterflies in my tummy. I start with a light jog to warm up, setting myself up for those amazing 9k ahead – can’t wait!
The Reality: I walk under pouring rain for 10 minutes from the train station to the starting area. There is absolutely no way of telling where the “Team Run” runners are supposed to start. The fact that no-one seems to know either provides some comfort. Already wet from the rain, I start to stress. As I start jogging I feel so squashed in between the other runners and it’s so noisy I can’t hear my music. Get out of the way people!!!
Then all hell breaks loose!
The Plan: After the first 1k of light jog my muscles warm up and I really go for it. Even though I’m determined not to make this about the time (relax people, this is about the fun) it should not be that hard to beat my personal best. With the adrenalin rush and support from the crowds – cheering my name!!! – I’ll get all pumped up and WOW, just look at her go!!! My team mates waiting for me at the end cannot believe how quickly I got there, they hardly had any time to finish their first Starbucks!
The Reality: I get restless trying to break free to find some space so I sprint for a few metres which leaves me slightly breathless. Not a good way to ease my way in. A not so gentle drizzle turns into showers. Showers become snow. My not-so-water-proof leggings are wet. My hamstrings never “warm up” because it’s so damn cold. When you think things can’t get worse – wait! Snow becomes hailstorm. And then it turns into snow again – it’s SNOWING people!!! On the 24th of April!!!!! By this point all my clothes are wet. That includes my trainers and my socks. For the last 2k I cannot feel my toes – hell, I cannot feel my feet! And guess what – the supportive, adrenalin-inducing crowds have decided to stay home and keep dry. The one thing on my mind was WTF am I doing here??????
Oh, and my precious outfit…
The Plan: My carefully selected outfit keeps me comfortable and looking fab – it’s the perfect combination of performance and style. The gorgeous Lorna Jane leggings, fitted Sweaty Betty top layer, bright pink Adidas trainers with matching running cap. Come on, even the waistband that holds the team number matches. Gorgeous. A fashion statement every step of the way. Nike, Sweaty Betty, Lululemon, all the big names in the industry line up with requests to sponsor me for next year’s edition. I become a zillionaire overnight but I’m also humble enough never to lose sight of how it all started: inspiring other women.
The Reality: Things start going pearshaped when I realise I actually need to wear my never-worn-before rainproof layer. Not cool. But it gets much worse. It’s so cold that I needed to borrow a non-descript duffle coat from my friend D. not to freeze. It’s made in China, grey and a XXL. You know, that bought-in-the-charity-shop coat you’re planning to get rid of once you’ve warmed up. I look like a sad grey potato. Oh, and I must borrow a fleeced bright yellow headband from my dear friend I. too. Outfit ruined. Chances of That Fitster’s world domination are drastically reduced.
After what seemed like an eternity and endless Garmin checks , I finish the 9k and approach my stop! I will never forget the sounds of my team mates cheering and waving – OMG, this is finally over!!!! I looooove you ALLLL! Hubby had a warm-ish Starbucks waiting which was heaven. A flash stop at a sports shop in between trains meant I could get dry socks and trainers, therefore avoiding hypothermia (you should have seen the look in the shopkeepers’ faces when we said we only had 3 minutes before our train left LOL).
After several hiccups (some of which I promise to never, ever disclose ) our team of 4 all joined up for the final 500m sprint and crossed the finish line together. By now, the sun had come out and the crowd and stepped was actually making some noise.
It was amazing and one of the best moments ever.
A huge thank you to my team mates: Hubby, Ms I. and Ms M.. You were amazing and thinking of you kept me going – if nothing else I could not live with the embarrassment of not getting to the final stop!
A final word dedicated to Mr. D. – the real deal, who completed the FULL marathon 42k in 3.45′. You have my respect forever. Even though I think it is madness. Oh, and that made-in-China duffle coat? Never get rid of it.
Was it worth it? Yes. I’ve made memories I’ll never forget.
Will there be a next time? Yes. I’m not giving up on my world domination masterplan just yet. And it’s a great excuse to meet up with dear friends and travel – two of the best things in life. But I’ll be making sure sunshine is included, darling.
Read this post for my tips to run in the cold – but stay home if it’s raining!!!!
How about you? What are your war stories from this running season? I would love to hear about them!