I ran a marathon and lived

2:35:00 AM


Important stuff to take from my experience:

  • You should probably try running the distance before. I didn't and almost died. But you can do it. Probably.
  • There is so much to do during the marathon: I made some friends, ate bread, got muddy, proved myself to me and others.
  • Eat. Eat. Eat. Eat. Eat. Eat. Before the marathon - eat. After the marathon - eat. Several days after the marathon - eat even more.
  • You won't get a sudden boost of energy when you are about to finish. You will, however, want to lay down right there and then.
  • You will have a case of maranoia, pre-marathon nerves, thrill, pain, exhaustion, shut down and happiness.
  • You will have the title Marathon Runner imprinted on your forehead and it is all you wanna talk about for the next week. Or until your muscles still hurt. Not to mention your toes. And lungs. You will suddenly be 90 years old.
  • You will get addicted and want to immediately plan for the next one. (Anyway, looking for sponsors and support to go to Bergen marathon, anyone?)
-o-


The first time I had this wonderful idea of running a marathon, it was 2016, I had just gotten into running, and the most I had ever done was 7 and a half kilometers.

The second time I got this crazy idea, it was 2017 April, I had had a break of half a year and I just started again with 5 km rounds. But I told myself I had a plan. A wonderful plan. That pretty much ended up me signing up about 2 weeks before the marathon, having ran 20 km the most a week before in one go.

Still, I was determined I had to do it as I had been constantly talking about it. It also was kind of about pride and "I'm going to show you" at this point. There were many people, for example my dad, who was like "na, you crazy, you should not run at all". My dad also brought out that I will probably die as I had just started eating vegetarian... (Later, as I was having after-marathon VEGAN burger, he did state: "Okay, okay. I eat meat and I still wouldn't be able to do this.)

My starting number was 1662 and I will remember it forever.

One of the most difficult parts about participating Tallinn marathon for me was getting my stuff. I felt a bit belittled by the people working the main tent, as they were obviously expecting me to know everything, getting frustrated when I dared to ask where I can get the shirt etc. I think the lady even muttered "are you sure you are up for the whole thing" when I told her my number and asked if I needed to show the ID. Anyway, it was discouraging, annoying and frankly rude.

The marathon itself was on Suday and on the previous day my friend came to my place. We went to see other friend's baby and chilled together; later having a feast of homemade tacos/tortillas and cake. Because carbing up and all this! (For the future reference: even if you are 120% sure you are going to explode from food, you need all the energy you can get.) 

We (well, I) tried to go to sleep earlier, but I failed. The marathon started at 9am, but we had to go to town around 8 as the transport was stopped. Starting corridors were opened half an hour before the actual start. 

My friend and sister came to send me off, I felt ridiculous. Town was full of people jogging, waming up, changing clothes. It was also freezing and wet, but at least it was not raining. My cheerleading squad stayed with me until th very beginning. Only about 10 minutes before the start I entered my group and they rushed forward to, hopefully, catch me on the road.

The last minutes to the start were so weird. It was surreal to stand there with about 2500 other people. There were a lot of foreigners, especially Finns, but I think I counted about 10 nationalities.

The marathon also had "tempo makers", aka there were 3 people from 3 hours to 5:30 (estimated finish time) who ran with certain pace. They had balloons and numbers with the estimated time on them so that was really convenient, as my goal was to finish in 5 hours.



This was me about 12 minutes before the start.

My sports bag on my waist was too loose. That was the most annoying thing. I couldn't even enjoy the first kilometer because I was trying to adjust it. I had taken my mp3 player with Potter audio book (which I ended up not using, because honestly there is so much other stuff to do while you are running - sounds surprising? Try it yourself. I sound like hardcore salesman right now.). I didn't see my friend and sister but it was okay, as the start was very hectic and I just tried to fit on the road.

First two kilometers passed so easy. Honestly I was concerned like "is the whole thing gonna be so slow? We won't ever finish... what is up?". Boy, was I wrong.

I would say the first... ten kilometers were easy-peasy. I kept typing the kilometer marks to my friends, sister and mum while running. I did not want to run too fast, but I wanted to keep the same pace.

On around 13th I made a friend. There was the "ice break point" where they would spray your preferred body part with cold magnesium thingy. (OH WOW, WHAT WORDING; GO ME!) He was in front of me and stopped, said "knees" and I followed. Then we started running again and looked at each other, said hi, and politely started the conversation.

It was his seventh marathon, he had just ran 47 kilometers in Alps and aimed for 4:10:00. I said it was my first marathon, aimed for 5:00:00 and had never ran the distance. He was impressed.

We were discussing running with some silent breaks (honestly, the run was mostly silent. Some people sometimes talked, but overall it was just steady breathing of the masses, sort of hypnotizing even, really). He complimented my pace and we had some good laughs.

On around 17th he had a break and I kept going as he promised to catch up later. Most of the marathon was ran in the city, on paved road (which is my preferred road!!), but then we arrived to national museum area, which is basically a lot of farm buildings together and OH LORDY was it muddy. The mud was sticky, slippery and awful. Then I also noticed first people starting to walk. Fun fact: I didn't see any girls walking?

I pushed through and made it to 20 km mark with the 4:15:00 pace makers who were 2 minutes ahead. Had some bread with salt (honestly, the best thing. You could get water/sports drink quite often, and also energy gels, which I did not use as I had no experience with them and did not want my body to freak out, as well as bananas, raisins, oranges, bread with salt/sugar), water, and kept going.

It took me a while to get through this point because I actually HAD TO QUEUE FOR A FRIGGING TOILET (high five other runners, we know this part sucks). I had promised my new friend I will catch up so I tried to do this from around 22nd km.

It was tough. I was past my longest run kilometer then and did not know how long I can still keep going.


This was right past the 25th km mark. I would really like to thank the photographers who managed to picture every single runner.

I think the hard part started on 25th km. My friend messaged me, saying to go by her workplace before the run, and I sent her a voice message that was pretty much some heavy breathing and "I'm already running". My tempo was still pretty high and as I was trying to get to my new friend I used up too much of the stored energy.

Finally met him again on around 28th km, where he told me he is too tired and tries to finish at least. I had the same plan. Soon he stopped and I lost a sight of him, I hope he did finish in the end, but I did not see him again on the track.

I was determined not to walk and I was really quite successful until 32nd km. I met a girl then who ran her 25th marathon and who told me a little of her first one. Then I saw my sister and best friend with the baby on the side (with the most amazing, gorgeous, shining, fantastic bottle of water) and took a half a minute break to drink properly, tell them that I absolutely cannot finish, and kept going. I caught them again (or well, they caught me again) on 34th km.

Until about 37th I had not walked. Then I tried it. Do not. Do not try walking in the middle of the marathon. It hurt to run, it HURT EVEN MORE to walk. It was awful. I tried to run slowly but the agony was real, so I ended up kind of half walking-half running by 20 meters. I thought it was never going to finish and it did not make me feel better when a photographer actually laid down on the street to get a picture of my desperate face... HMU if you wanna see it.

Last two kilometers were probably the worst. There was energy gel point and I was just telling them that no I don't wany ANYTHING I just want to finish already, but they gave me like 4-5 of the gel packs and told me to go on.

A lot of people would read my name from my number and cheer me on. Small kids wanted to high five me. Even security and police were like "YOU CAN DO IT OKAY?". I didn't even run on the last kilometer at first until one lady with a baby carriage just screamed at me something on the lines of "Signe there is literally only 500 meters to go you better start running right now". That reminded me that my parents and friends were waiting and that I probably - dammit - had to finish.

The saying that you will get some boost of energy on the finish corridor is a lie. IT IS A FLAT OUT LIE I TELL YOU. I saw people I knew and instead of going faster I thought of crying and flopping myself on the road (dramatically, of course). And there were two kinds of finishing gates, the first one that stopped your timer and  the second one that was an ad for the company holding the evend, they were literally like one meter apart and my only thought was that no way I can pass the first one but I will fucking not make it to the second. I repeat, the distance was one meter.

I then started walking, experiencing ALL kinds of emotions which I don't really remember. I was given a medal and also some drinks, water, yoghurt etc, also the metallic silver blanket to protect me from wind and cold. I found the first free spot on the side of the road and sat down, sending my family messages to come and get me as I was done with life (marathon).

There was also the runners area nearby where you could get some food and support which I briefly checked out, feeling too awful to eat anything. It was amazing. To sit down.

4:21:09

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2 comments

  1. I am looking to train for a marathon and reading this gives me anxiety and excites me at the same time. WELL DONE! I'm proud of you. And this is a wonderful post! I'll get in touch with you once I finally decided.

    www.lilmissbianca.com

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    Replies
    1. Thank you. I hope you get to run one in the near future. Not even to complete it but just to get some experience. The overall moood was amazing and it is so fun to remember later.

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