There is really only one adjective which can be used to describe the Skodsborg Marathon and that is the Danish word, hyggelig. It is a small, enjoyable run in a friendly environment. Yes, all of that can be said in one word!
Anyway, here are all of the runners just before the start. Actually Jerk, who is the race director (that's pronounced "Yerk", folks), took the photo but would also run. A few of these people ran the half marathon, though most ran the marathon.
The girl to the far right, Teresa Petersen, turned out to be a woman who I under no imaginable circumstances could have beaten. She ran a minute faster than my PR on a hilly, windy, cold route. In fact, she actually started running the race with SR.
What was my goal? Well, I thought I would like to run in less than 4 hours. But, I didn't know the route would be so hilly. The route consisted of 3.4 miles of asfalt around a woods and through a neighborhood repeated 8 times with a little shortcut on the last repitition.
Jerk said something very ominous at the beginning: "No one has ever gotten lost". I knew immediately this meant disaster for me. And halfway into the second loop, I took a wrong turn, sprinting down a hill, but luckily eventually heard Jerk himself yelling after me. It was not an ideal start. I did what I always do - started sprinting to make up for lost time. That, of course, came back to haunt me later.
When one runs a marathon essentially alone, there is a lot of time to think. Especially when one isn't running terribly fast and there is no specific competition. I thought a lot about comments that have been written on this blog. I thought in particular about the pregnancy sentiment "I'm just not taking any chances". I wonder - what exactly is that chance/s people are referring to? What is the physiological mechanism behind what people fear? There is so little known about exercise in pregnancy - but why is it that being passive is always seen as safer than active? Beyond that, why is going on a light run safer than running a PR marathon? Let me put it an entirely different way - we don't go into uterine failure when we run as fast or as hard as we can, so how is it we are going to do damage to this organ, which is suddenly even more protected than ever while pregnant, by simply running hard? I don't claim to know everything - obviously no one does- I simply claim to have researched this subject to the extreme. I would specifically really like to take a look at peoples' fears and see how legitmate they are and whether they make physiological sense.
There are only two sports-related scenarios that makes sense to me to fear: 1. is a hard blow to the uterus (as in getting kicked by a horse, etc) 2. is running a 100 mile race in extreme heat, for example, not drinking enough and going into kidney failure. Bear in mind this has only been reported in men, but if it happened in a pregnant woman, toxins could certainly build up, some of which might cross over the placenta. Okay, so those are the two extremes that make sense to me to fear. Other than that, I am at a loss. Oh yeah - don't dope! Ha - that will definitely increase your chances of a miscarriage.
Anyway, despite not being scared of hurting the baby yesterday, I really didn't feel like going for a PR. Nor could I have run a PR, considering I have had one speedwork session in the past 14 weeks. And that was 4 days prior.
At the halfway point, Karen, Jerk's wife, who had just run the half marathon, took these pictures of me. Thank you, Karen!
I ran the first half marathon in just under 2 hours, knowing getting under 4 hours for the entire distance was really unlikely. At about this time, SR lapped me, Morten and Rune. He didn't waste much time with us, that's for sure. He ran the first half very slowly - with Teresa as mentioned above - and then decided to go all out for the second half marathon. The next time I saw SR, he was doubling over, saying he was sorry he couldn't run with me. He had just taken first and set a new course record of 3:09.
I was struggling at this point. My left knee was really bothering me and I considered dropping. I was running my first marathon in minimalist shoes (Ecco Bioms) and had to wonder if that was what was bothering my knee. But I honestly think it was my lingering plantar faciitis (from my old thick-soled shoes) that was making me run a little funny.
But then I turned on my i-pod. And I was pushed along by a Swede, Lennart Skoog. We kept passing each other back and forth. Every time we passed each other, he said something to me in Swedish. I had a heck of a time understanding him. The fundamental problem was, he assumed I was Danish and no Danes have trouble understanding Swedish.
We sprinted to the finish together, him passing me at the last second, and me ending up with a time of 4:19:59. This was about 15 minutes faster than my 9 week pregnant marathon and on a tougher route. So I wasn't too disappointed.
Thanks to Jerk and Morten for fun morning.
Running Song of the Day: Senegal Fast Food by Amadou & Miriam with Manu Chao (an old favorite was just what I needed).