Today I was to run the Melbourne Marathon, my 15th(?) Melbourne and my 43rd marathon altogether. Last year I injured a calf (leg, not poddy) and had to pull out at seven kilometres. I had never failed to finish before. It was a painful moral injury; the calf recovered but the moral wound did not. Today was to be my chance at redemption.
Forty three is a lot of marathons. Enough to learn quite a lot. I’ll list what I know for you. You never know when you might used them.
Running a marathon is hard. There are 42.195 kilometres to complete, equating to about forty two thousand steps. My car gets tired after 42.195 kilometres. The tough news is that every one of the 42,000 steps needs to be run.
Double knot your running shoes. Then they won’t come undone.
Apply Vaseline to toes, groins, armpits, scrota and nipples. Especially nipples. (Runner’s Nipple is one of the more dramatic running injuries. The nipples haemorrhage spectacularly. Why? Well, the nipple is an erectile little gadget. As you run, your skin heats up. Sweating follows, then evaporation of the sweat. Evaporation cools the skin, the nipple leaps to instant and enduring attention and the salty residue of the sweat on the nipple rubs against fabric. Forty two thousand wobbles of a breast result in a nasty dermatitis. Bleeding follows. Pain attends.)
Apply a curved line of Vaseline across your forehead, thus creating an eave, along which sweat can run to your temples. This spares your eyes hours of sweat sting.
Don’t run a marathon.
Having disregarded the last piece of advice, you’ll understand its compelling good sense. Corollary: if you run more than one marathon you are a person who persists non-sensible behaviour. Spouses and families will point this out to you.
Running a marathon damages your body. Within days or a week or two, your body will usually recover (The exception is the case where you die running the marathon, as happened to Pheidipides of old.) Do not imagine you are doing this for your health.
Running a marathon requires a lot of training. Racing a marathon – quite distinct from merely running to complete the event – requires a shit load (that is the technical expression) of training. Spouses (see above) do not generally like this. Sometimes you come back from a marathon to find the spouse has gone.
Running a marathon requires courage.
The marathon humbles everyone who attempts it.
The marathon runner discovers something about herhimself every time shehe runs it.
The marathon is an extreme test. Its extremity evokes extremes of feeling. Tears can flow.
The marathon runner who is forced to pull out due to injury within a few kms from the Finish is a tragic sight. In horse racing a steed that is injured can be shot on the track. A quick gunshot is an expedient that would be welcomed by both the injured party and those runners who witness that colossal grief.
(Death by gunshot is readily available in the USA.)
Plan to have a poo before you run. The runner has consumed megabites of carbs the previous day and all things come to pass. The alternative to evacuation prior to the run is to do so during. This wastes valued time. Unless, like the woman winner at Boston about twelve years ago, and like De Castella at Rotterdam three decades ago, you don’t stop when it starts and you go with the flow. In the case of the brave German girl, diarrhoea and untimely menstruation coincided. Unlike the runner herself, it was not pretty.
Although it must occur to about one in five females on a given race day I have no advice to offer regarding prudent management of marathon menstruation.
Trim your toenails a week before the event. Otherwise the nail might leave your toe somewhere between Start and Finish.
That is the totality of the wisdom I have to impart.
I did run today, I did finish – in brutal conditions – and I am requited. A little bit proud, self-amazed, a bit sore (I’ll be at my sorest the day after tomorrow), weary and happy. And very, very thankful.