Something didn’t feel quite right. In fact, something felt downright wrong.
The sickening saliva started to moist the inside of my mouth – the type that usually precedes a full on projectile puke.
I slowly eased to the side of the road and, as soon as I found a patch of bush, the vomiting began. For someone who has done so only a handful of times in his whole life and can stomach rough seas while game-fishing, this was something else. It felt as if my entire maze of intestines was on the verge of surging up my throat and erupting out of my mouth.
And it wouldn’t stop! Every time I thought it was over, the projectile would come back.
So there I was, at the 32km mark of a marathon, engaged instead in a violent spew-a-thon. The worst thing was, the more I heaved out, the worse I felt.
After a couple of minutes (although it felt more like a couple of hours), there was literally nothing left in the tank to spew out, and one can only do so much dry-retching. So I did what every crazy runner would do in that situation – I resumed running.
Almost instantaneously, however, the cramps attacked my legs , so much so that I did something that I have never, EVER, done in a race.
I broke down, surrendered my weapons and walked out on the show!
That was on Sunday, September the 22nd, 2013 – a day that will remain with me for a very long time. A day that I failed to close the deal while running in a race. A day that running showed me in no uncertain terms who the boss is, and gave me a bitch-slap for having the temerity to forget it.
In the traumatic post-race analysis, it didn’t take me long to pinpoint the reasons for the embarrassing failure. They were all simple amateur mistakes which may be excused for a beginner but unforgivable for someone who was attempting his third marathon.
To begin with, I breached the first commandment in any runner’s bible:
Thou shall not do anything on race day that thou have not done before.
In an effort to prevent cramping at the latter stages of the marathon, I consumed Gatorade at every drink station – something that I have never tried before and will certainly never again in the future. I felt fine enough at the beginning and the electrolyte may well even had a placebo effect, judging by the reckless pace I was running (more on that fuck-up later). However, my body thought otherwise from around the 20km mark, with the smell of Gatorade rising up internally and beginning to make me feel nauseous. Of course, I don’t need to regurgitate how that all ended at the 32 km mark.
Secondly, my last marathon time was 3 hours and 49 minutes. For this event, I was aiming for 3 hours and 40 minutes. However, my race pace at the 10km mark? On track to finish in 3 hours and 5 minutes! At the 20km mark? Still on pace to clock 3 hours and 9 minutes! Clearly, the second commandment in the runner’s bible went right out of my mind:
Thou shall always pace yourself sensibly in a marathon. Under no circumstances shall thou try to be a hero and attempt to ‘bank’ some time early.
I have read the tortoise and the hare story to my sons many times, but it is obvious that I was the only one not paying attention to the moral of the fable.
However, the biggest mistake I committed was this. It was the silly desire to prove a point. To prove that, although I have just turned 40, I can still outrun my former younger self. That I am still young enough to, not just beat, but smash my Personal Best achieved in my 30s.
In attempting to do so, I unfortunately brushed aside the two best things about being in my 40s: wisdom and experience. Indeed, I think I inherently knew all the mistakes as I was making them during the marathon. But instead of adjusting, I decided to be a brain dead reckless fool.
I will come back from this.
And, as I embark on this journey of redemption, I will remember not to ever ignore the final commandment in the runner’s (or any) bible:
Thou shall act your fucking age and be at peace with it.
Keep on pounding.
Oh no! I’m glad you are ok and it wasn’t something more serious. I hate when you can see mistakes as you are making then and ignore it all the same. Makes it sooooooo frustrating. There will be more marathons and you’ll kick their collective arses. In the meantime lick your wounds and learn the lessons so you can come back with a roar.
Thanks. Yes, that’s the good thing about marathons – there’s always one just around the corner. Even if not, I can always head out for a 42k jog myself and stop for a spew or two!
Don’t beat yourself up! The first step is admitting the problem!! Youre still a champion in my book:)
Madam, how nice are you? With all you’re currently going through, you still find the time write such kind words of encouragement for someone engaged in a trivial stuff such as a marathon. I think we all know who the real champion is!
Great entry – most vivid! Sometimes you have to test your limits…
Yeah, but maybe not too many times. Hey, I ran by your work today during lunch. Nice day for a jog – wind, rain, sun, slippery surface – great fun!
You had me worried there for a moment, but it turned out to be a speech I can use at my fortieth that’s coming up sometime next year. Must admit, have learned similar lessons playing with weights.
Oh yeah, weights! That’s another story I can share of how silly I can be – and I have the shoulder pain to prove it!
With weights you tend to not only compete with the guy in the mirror but also the one next to you.
Like the story I read recently about a guy on a treadmill trying to outrun the guy next to him.
Someone wrote a story like that? What kind of a crazy-ass person does that? Ridiculous!
I know, right? And that person thinks I’m experimenting…Can you believe it…
If being in our 40s means that we can’t occasionally be reckless anymore, then I think we should just keep calling ourselves 39! Sorry that you crashed and burned (and puked), but I love the effort. LOVE it!
Good advice, but I need me a little bit of time before my next reckless adventure! Heck, the thought of Gatorade still gives me a nauseous feeling!
Oh dear. Well, I guess you learned from that one. Good on you, though, for even managing 32kms!!! A mere 2km jog/walk round the block usually stops me in my tracks! 😀
Take it from me, you would be surprised what your body is capable of once you find the passion for an exercise. Granted, my body was not quite capable on this particular occasion.
Haha live and learn. Live and learn.
Coming to terms with getting old is tough, I know the feeling.
Until, of course, we reach that pivotal stage where we just don’t give a fuck anymore! 🙂
That’s the tough part- some things I only pretended to care about but now I don’t bother. Giving up caring about those things was easy. Other things I still do when really I shouldn’t. Who cares if I’m not as good as some things as I used to be? I still have fun. I relax more as the years go by.
I’m sorry your race ended badly.
“Thou shall act your fucking age and be at peace with it.”
Lmfao. Can I put that on a t-shirt?
Of course, although some people may not take it kindly!
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Thanks for this. I’m running my first marathon on Saturday and needed this reminder, race like you trained. You will be back better than ever and you will beat you old PB!
Hope u did well. Look forward to your recap.
I cannot even fathom a full marathon yet…though my brain has accepted the possibility of a half. I’ll keep those rules in mind lol.
No, no! Your brain can’t know a half marathon is coming up. It will simply shut down and tell you: “HELL NO”!!!
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I wish there was a “Boo Hiss” button alongside the “Like.” Turning 40 fucks with your mind something fierce. 😦
Eloquently put. People think I’m half-joking but I am truly finding it hard to grapple with the fact that I’ve just turned 40, especially as I still feel very immature!
I knew you weren’t joking and my husband and I struggled with turning 40 in the same way. We always say we are really 10 year old boys – fart noises are our favorite.