The finish line

HC Andersen marathon in Odense, Denmark. My very first marathon.

My only race experiences so far were a 5k color run last fall and the half marathon in Copenhagen three weeks ago. Both races had plenty of people running and while I was comfortable in the color run and a nervous wreck in the half marathon I was so far out from my comfort zone in the marathon that I really was questioning my sanity. The added moment here was staying in a hotel the night before. I had packed my bag with food, I had a lnch box of noodles and tofu for dinner and all sorts of things “that I usually eat”, not wanting to end up with just a salad from the gas station. The hotel however could not provide me with a microwave so I had to eat it cold. Quite pathetic.

But before I digged into the cold dinner; I walked the 3k to the start area to pick up my race number, the chip for timing and the shirt. No problems whatseoever. Except; I suddenly remembered that I yet hadn’t replaced my lip balm that I lost after the half marathon and was quite worked up by the fact that I’d might have to use a “regular” lipbalm instead of my amazing “one-hand sports lip balm”, designed for MEN, lol. It’s the perfect thing but I couldn’t find it in any store. I calmed down and told my self they’d probably sell it at the sports fair. They didn’t.

So, back to the hotel. I knew I’d have a hard time sleeping = I decided on an early night. After eating cold noodles with tofu I ate some nuts and drank some tea and lots of water – and then sleeping. I woke up every hour. On the hour. I had no idea when the best time for breakfast would be. The race started at 10.00 and I figured 07.00 would be alright. Everyone else was there, in a very hot breakfast room, showing off race shirts from previous marathons and filling up with carbs and coffee. I had e-mailed the hotel before and asked about plant milk and requested if they had anything vegan (veggies, fruits, non dairy milk, müsli etc) – they’d say I should bring my own müsli but they’d have soymilk, as well as fruits and veggies. I had a light breakfast. I wasn’t hungry. I didn’t feel like a runner. I wasn’t the only one bringing stuff to eat, almost everyone had something in a bag on their trays. But I sat there, wearing my oversized shirt and jeans and just didn’t belong. Weird feeling.

I got dressed. Optioned on wearing the free race shirt as my brand new, custom made, runners shirt really felt tight around the neck. In the end I think it was a good choice. I had 5 clif gels with me and I figured I’d take one per hour. I also brought a small bottle of water. Putting them all in my belt.

At 08.30 I arrived at the start area and at 09.00 most women started running the half marathon for women. I was really nervous. While I used visualization before running the half marathon (finishing, receiving the medal, buying a new charm for my Pandora bracelet etc), I didn’t feel the same vibe here. We weren’t that many runners. I placed myself far back and I knew I’d stay there. Everyone looked very fit and well trained. I wanted to quit. But then, we started running, and it felt good. I love running. The first 21k was alright and I ran a few minutes quicker than I’d done in Copenhagen but as the men finished their half I found myself alone. I was about 20 mins behind the big batch of “slow” runners. And I had no idea what to do about it. I ran the remaining race quite alone. In a grey town. With no people on the streets, except for the shopping street… HC Andersen Marathon is named after the author who lived in Odense and the race is named “the adventurous race”. But no, it’s not adventurous. And even if it’s considered “easy” it’s not fun. 2 laps… it was boring and I wished I at least had my headphones with me so I could have listened to music or a book.

Soon after 41k I see this big blow-up finish sign and it’s a straight road up to it. I decide on revenge for the finish at the half marathon when I was so overwhelmed I lost a lot of time. So I pick up the pace and give everything, only to remember I still had a roundabout after the blow-up and then to the right… Of course I can’t keep the pace and I am really mad at myself only to discover what really lies behind the roundabout – the stadium… and the last 360m is on the track field. Like SERIOUSLY???? I have avoided this all of my life. I never ran on it in school, never. I always blamed that something hurt or whatever. And now it was a track field between me and that stupid finish line. I was so pissed off. I felt cheated on.

I was content with my pace though and I finished – not last – but at 05.41. My first words were “never again” and the sweet lady handing me a bottle of water said “but you did this, you finished it”. “yeah, but never again”.

Leaving the finishing area I discovered that all food except apples were gone and I just went to pick up my bag and then find the bus back to the hotel where they offered us to take a shower before leaving. I was alright. I survived.

Less than 24 hours later I started planning on my revenge… Meaning, to find a FUN marathon with people in it that run as slow as me or at least with a view and not 2 laps….

I did it! I achived my goal on running 42k while being 42y!


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