On Sunday I entered my first marathon, the annual Brisbane "Lest We Forget" Marathon, organised by the Returned and Service League (RSL) as a charity fundraiser. The course (below) went up and down the Brisbane River on both sides, and looped through the Botanical Gardens, making for quite a scenic route.
Entering a marathon was quite a leap for me, since I've never run anything close to this distance before. In fact, my only training for this event was my usual twice-weekly 7km runs, exactly one sixth of the marathon distance of 42km. Needless to say, by the time I crossed the finish line, which thankfully I did, I was a complete and utter cripple and barely able to walk. The first half-marathon went without a trouble, which I completed in exactly 2 hours. This isn't too bad and I was extremely happy. At this point I was feeling fine and keeping pace with a large group of runners. The next 10km began to become quite strenuous on my legs, but still went by without any dramas, although at a slower pace. It was the final 10km that really knackered me. My leg muscles were becoming extremely tight and I had to periodically make short stretch stops to avoid complete cramping-up of my legs. By this time my knees were in absolutely agonizing pain, which only became worse once the race had finished *, and my legs were numb and tingly. I had fallen right back and completed the second half-marathon in an appalling 2 hours and 39 minutes, for a total time of an abysmal 4 hours and 39 minutes. Nonetheless, being horrifically slow was hardly my biggest concern. My aim was to run a marathon, not to be competitive. Now I can finally cross 'marathon' off my list of things I have to do in my life, and I can finally move on to the next item on the list... winning a Nobel Prize in Physics. Alright, here we go, starting... now!
What impressed me most about this marathon was not the winner, but one of the people who was amongst the last to cross the finish line. He was in his mid 70's or so, was recovering from two knee operations, and finished only 15 or 20 minutes after myself. Being a mere 23 year old, I naturally found this quite depressing, yet simultaneously very inspiring. Never use age as an excuse!
*When I arrived at work two days later I was greeted by laughter from certain academics - ahem - who compared me to an 80 year old when they saw me trying in desperation to get up a flight of stairs.
Some interesting facts about marathons:
- According to a calorie calculator I found on the internet, which estimates energy consumption during running based on speed and body mass, I consumed approximately 3023 calories. This is equivalent to three pepperoni pizzas, four and a half hamburgers, or five and half sundae's with hot fudge. Of course, this means none other than now I have a very legitimate excuse to go an eat five and a half (we'll round it up to six) sundaes with hot fudge.
- According to recent research, a major health hazard facing marathoners is hyponatremia, caused by drinking too much, whereby blood salt levels fall too low. This can result in death. Apparently this condition affects as many as one in eight marathon runners. See this article for more information.
The course of the Brisbane Marathon. The half-marathon does one loop of the circuit. The full-marathon does two.