Guess what I did this Saturday?

Ok – guess what I did today? Let me give you three clues. I did something that was reckless, fearless and somewhat stupid.. I will divulge all to you.

Ok – I had decided, some months ago, that due to taking all that time off because of my chest infection, I would run a half-marathon today instead of my planned marathon. Wise decision. Right? But I didn’t get my buns in gear and didn’t e-mail the race organisers that I had considered doing this. Not until this week. And guess what? They told me the half was full, as was the transport to the start (the race started and finished in a different place..). So I spent the week fruitlessly coming up with ways to get to the start. My friend Sally and I were going to drive to the race together but I contemplated driving in convoy (how boring!) or trying to find someone to give me a ride. Husband would have taken me but was in charge of children and also had to take them to a party (near to the race, as it happened).

So yesterday lunchtime I decided to throw in my big guns. I went onto the Runnersworld website to the Forum thread for the White Peak marathon and half and offered up my bribe – homemade oatmeal raisin or chocolate chip cookies for anyone who would transport me to the half start. No takers. No takers! My biscuits are fabulous! And the oats make them good! Right? Right. Anyway they obviously didn’t sell themselves. Then someone who I have never met posted a message saying “why don’t you take it easy and just run the full? You’ve got a place on THAT bus?”. And so, readers, that’s what I resolved to do. I told no-one except my husband (who doesn’t run and didn’t realise the implications of someone SERIOUSLY undertrained running a marathon) and Sally (who thinks I’m nuts anyway so it all proves her point). Which she is right about, by the way.

So guess who lined up for the marathon today? me. Bright and sprightly and perky. My new Camelbak backpack on, mobile with me for disasters, plenty of powerbars – I will confess to you that I thought I might amaze myself.
Friends of mine (mostly men..) have run marathons without much training and I thought that maybe I was being too much of a stick-in-the-mud sticking to Uncle Hal’s programs and needed to “live a little”. Well, my friends, I lived a lot. I feel like I’ve lived a lifetime. On the upside – the race was on traffic-less roads, the weather was ok and there were only 200 other marathoners registered. I met some nice people, had some very interesting conversations. So much for running Oprah. On the downside – guys! I can’t run a marathon without training! This hurt. SO MUCH! There were some mean and nasty steep downhills and my knees are toast! I found it hard. I walked! I have never walked! I wasn’t able to slow down enough – I was either running a 10:30 minute mile or walking. OK OK. Another confession. I thought about blogging about my decision last night but knew that you – wiser friends of mine in the blogosphere – would tell me that I was nuts and shouldn’t do it.

Upshot? OK I finished in 4:49. Not too bad – NYC took me 6 minutes more but I was well over 30 minutes off my Chicago time. But I tell you guys – it was not fun. Miles 21-26.2 were horrible. And I’ve never had that before. Training consistently has meant that I have always been more or less confident and capable during marathons. Today that was not the case. So a lesson has been learned – to everyone’s shock and awe Petra does not run fast or enjoyable marathons without training properly. Hear me girlfriends? Don’t do what I did.

Finally though – despite all of the above I am happy tonight. Grinning, in fact. I had a rubbish week. I don’t think I’m dealing well with the thought of my little boy going to school in September and losing a big part of my mom-job at home. I’ve been horrible – moody, grumpy, self-doubting, angry – you name it, I have been it. My family has show extraordinary patience with the witch, I can tell you. But doing something stupid and irresponsible brought back my inner naughtiness and it’s perked me up no end. I won’t do it again – the pain is too much! My legs are unmoveable and stairs scare me – but, strangely and stupidly enough – it was what I needed. I laughed with myself today, and I haven’t done that for a long time..

Keep running, keep training, and stick to your schedules, my friends! I am going to have a hot bath and then meet my friends Ben and Jerry in bed with a book. I know how to live.. or not?


9 thoughts on “Guess what I did this Saturday?

  1. You definitely know how to live!

    I applaud you, not scold you. Yes, maybe you were undertrained, but it took a lot of guts and heart to do what you did. And it made for a heck of a story!!!! So go Petra!!!

  2. I couldn’t agree with Susan more.

    I have a huge grin on my face after reading about your adventure!

    You only live once! And this has made you a happier girl!

    You’re a ROCKSTAR!

  3. Petra!!! I wish I’d checked my blog and yours before the race!! I could have given you a ride! BUMMER! I actually rememembered you were running during the half and kicked myself for not setting up a meeting place!

    Wow, I’n so impressed you did the whole thing, just becase you had a spot on the bus.

    I loved the race, but I only did the half (and beat my 23yr old son!) Still working on the blog.

  4. Running a marathon without the proper training is not like jumping out of a airplane without a parachute… it’s more like jumping out of an airplane with a small parachute.

    As someone who has done the exact same thing, welcome to the club. Your legs are going to be extra-extra sore for a few days, but you’ll get over it. If you can get a leg massage, do that in a day or two… it really helps!

    So you had a great learning experience today, not that you shouldn’t run marathons without the right training, but how you, Petra, handle that type of adversity. What you’ve learned at this race is going to help you in the future!

    See, you went into the race without training and knowing it, and you hit the wall, but you KNEW you were going to hit the wall. This is TOTALLY different than being trained and hitting the wall. One, you hit the wall sooner and harder than if you had been trained
    two, you don’t have the psychological “why did I hit wall, I followed my training” mentality

    Also, you ‘walked’… OH NO! You walked, but you still finished! Okay, now you know that it’s okay to walk… it really is. You may not like the fact that you walked but you did and it wasn’t the end of the world. In fact, walking under these conditions is a brilliant in-race strategy. Now you know to do it sooner, to push back the wall.

    Another point, you didn’t give up! There’s a lot to be said for that when you were in the later stages of this race! Awesome job!

    You learned a lot from this race, whether you know it now or not… but you did. You’ll get more knowledge and insight out of this marathon than your other marathons.

    I don’t blame you one bit for running the full marathon. I would have done the same thing… and to tell you the truth, I would run another marathon undertrained again as well, the only thing being different is that I know now how, I run marathons when I am undertrained. And now… so do you!

  5. Petra…You did WHAT??? I’m reading this, but I cannot beleive it!! This is AMAZING!!! You actually offered free homemade oatmeal raisin or chocolate chip cookies for anyone who would transport me to the half start and no takers?? OMG!!!!!

    Oh, great marathon too you nut! 😉

  6. Wow! I know people do run marathons way under-trained all the time but, unfortunately, the person closest to me (my husband) did that once and it was the last time he was ever able to run (he ruined his knees beyond repair).

    BUT … I’m so glad you were able to make it through OK. There is a lot to be gained in terms of mental strength by suffering and surviving, I know. Next time you ever decide to do such a thing, however, get into an ice bath ASAP for 5-15 minutes. Hot water exacerbates swelling and you’ll be sore for much longer. Also going downstairs backwards is easier on the legs.

    Congrats on finishing!

  7. Wow, what can I add to all the other comments. Amazing, brave, silly but so adventurous! I envy you and feel your pain!

    I agree with all the other comments! You go girl! Rest easy 🙂

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