A Fine Mess

37th Milo Marathon Leg 9  21.1k  09/22/13

This race was quite possibly my worst race to date. There’s no sugarcoating it. It was a mess. I got a side stitch injury a month into training. My usual daily mileage was way down to 6k and below at around 7:00 minute per kilometer pace with an exception of a painful 9k long run. Most of all, I ran like an idiot. Why? My race strategy was to power through 21 kilometers and hope for the best. Needless to say, it turned ugly fast. However, this race wasn’t a bad experience. On the contrary, it had a lot of memorable moments. Here are three most memorable moments of the race:

  1. At around 16 kilometers, I ran/walked but mostly walked pass depressing scenes of fallen runners. Many were felled by injury and the heat was not doing anyone any favors. The hotter it got, the greater the sense of urgency. The clock was ticking. I tried to muster the strength to keep running. I couldn’t. I, too, was injured. I tried again. I walked again. The medal that I wanted so badly, that everyone wanted so badly, was clearly out of my reach. I tried yet again. I walked yet again. The frustration finally got to me. I cried or tried to cry. I couldn’t. I was too dehydrated. All I could do was sob and walk.

  2. By the 18th kilometer, I was still walking when I was passed by my friend. I was worried that he’d dropped out. He was even more undertrained than I was. When I last saw him, he had this look of defeat on his face. I managed to eke out some energy to catch up to him. He slowed down for my benefit and, to my surprised, he was doing better than I’d expected. I allowed myself a small moment of victory. At least, my friend was going to cross the finish line. It turned out that I was going to be surprised for a second time. He stayed with me; paced me until the end. I remembered the times when I paced him during training. I was so strong back then. At that moment, our roles had reversed. At that moment, our friendship grew stronger.

  3. In the end, there was no victorious surge. No glorious kick. I was weak. I was empty. I walked pass the finish line humbled. I allowed myself to soak in the moment. The pain was a nightmare but the frustration was even more hellish. I survived though. It was victory enough for me. I was, I am proud of myself. I am proud my friend. We survived. I was probably in the worst shape of my life but I never felt so alive. I never felt so good. 2:50:11

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