I woke up the morning of the marathon without any pain in my ankle! This doesn’t sound too exciting but for me it was what was going to make the difference between enjoying this marathon or spending the whole in doubt. I had been having problems with my ankle during my training but a couple of weeks before the climax of the event I was recommended a skeletal-muscle therapist who caused me amazing pain and agony but performed miracles. The result was a “fixed” ankle.
I was up early. I hadn’t done the sensible thing of finding out exactly where the registration and receiving of my number was to take place, so I had a little while wandering around alone in Oslo. The castle and fort that were to serve as the starting ground for the event were beautiful and complimented the feeling of grandeur that I was feeling about this personally important race. It was a wonderful, fresh autumn morning. The weather forecast was for rain during the afternoon so I had been joking with my dad that I should get the race done quickly. Kick off was at 10:30 am.
After a typical Scandinavian breakfast buffet full of wonderful tasty treats, I headed down with my partner and father to the start line.
Standing there amongst the 1 500 or so runners (the later half marathon was to include around 8000) I was struck by the friendliness and camaraderie that was immediately evident all around me. People joked, wished each other luck, described the hills to look out for, discussed form. It was wonderful. It reminded me of the feeling I get from the run.net community of podcasters (http://www.runningpodcasts.com).
As the countdown ended, my MP3 player kicked in with The Prodigy’s “Omen” and I was off. for the first 15 km the run was simple, my body smoothly coping with the new terrain. I was really pleased with the way my training up and down the local hills of Smørås seemed to have helped with the two or three big hills on the Oslo course. The Oslo marathon has a really long and boring part running alongside a motorway and it was here that my internal dialogues and affirmations had to kick in to keep myself motivated.
Around km 30 the sight of my girlfriend and my father really gave me the kick I needed. I still hadn’t had any problems whatsoever. One thing that struck me as odd is that every few kilometers I would get butterflies and physical rushes of excitement with goose-bumps. I was doing it, I thought to myself. The end of a long journey, and start of a new chapter.
At km 35 I had the terrible experience of seeing an older man go down with a heart attack and the fruitless attempts to start his heart again. That really shook me up. Later this would renew my respect for the marathon as a race, but at the time it just upset me. The one positive result of this is that I was to enroll on a CPR course as soon as I could.
At km 40 I hit the wall. It was a strange feeling – it was like all the energy had been suddenly emptied out of my body and I suddenly became cold and burnt out. It was then that I looked at my Garmin pulse watch. I was going to come in under four hours! But, only if I really ran. So I did. I picked up my feet and as I reached sight of the finish line and saw my family I sprinted. My final time 3 hours and 57 minutes.
I had done it. This really was a new beginning.