- At mile 8 I was still hopeful
- But at mile 9 my right leg really wasn’t so sure
- By mile 11 my jog had turned to a distinctive shuffle
- At mile 12 I was walking…
- …and at mile 13.1 I was well and truly OUT
Just 2 and a half hours after I had started the Tallinn Marathon, I was back in my hotel room, physically and emotionally broken, having only completed half of the course. I wasn’t sure how much cider and wine I was going to need to deal with the situation.
It turned out to be a lot, luckily I had good company…
It was never going to end well. I was undertrained and injured. But my head was in a different place to my body, in fact, it was so far away, it may as well have been on a different planet. Through a combination of really not wanting to go running, being too busy, and carrying some kind of leg injury that quickly shut down my late attempt to get marathon ready, it really should have been the one I never started.
But I did start.
Tallinn is actually a very beautiful city, and with the weather bright and sunny, and some Chaser buddies around me, it really could have been a lot worse. After a lot of thinking, and trying to figure out how I felt about the situation, I realised that although I didn’t run the full marathon, and I didn’t get my BQ (which was the reason for signing up in the first place), I still ran half of it and had a really good weekend in a place I had never been before.
The marathon is part of a weekend of events that consists of a kids 5k on the Friday evening, a 10k on the Saturday, and the marathon and half on the Sunday. The marathon is 2 laps of the half, which starts later in the day.
The kids 5k in full swing
Beginning in Freedom Square, the route takes you around the city and heads out along the coastline for around 7 miles, before switching back to the city again. It was actually better supported than I expected, I thought it would be quite low key with less than 2,000 runners in the full and around 3,000 in the half, but there were people cheering along the route and a few bands making some noise.
It’s pretty flat, and a great course for a PB, although it could get quite windy by the sea in different conditions. There’s also a smell, a kind of putrid dead fish type of smell that gets worse as the day goes on and really puts you off your caramel macchiato caffeine gels. Be warned.
I was feeling OK for the first 8 or so miles, I was running slowly, but I felt OK and was even enjoying running again. But somewhere on the way back to the city, my right leg started to hurt and my hip flexors felt tight, I was getting slower and slower. It was frustrating, and I was trying to calculate how I could adopt a run-walk strategy to the finish but, by 12 miles run-walk was more walk-walk. It wasn’t happening.
As Freedom Square got closer and closer, I had to make a decision. And I knew what the decision needed to be, I just didn’t want to admit it. I could have carried on and shuffled around, but I really didn’t see the point, I was injured, I was going to be painfully slow, and I was already back near the hotel. As my watch hit 13.1 miles, I pulled out.
Tallinn is a well organised event, I can’t take that away from them, but I wasn’t impressed that they wouldn’t let me get off the course very easily, and they wouldn’t give me any water despite having run 13 miles in warm conditions. It didn’t help my mood. Plus, as I hadn’t officially downgraded to the half, I didn’t even get rewarded for my efforts despite having run the half course.
Well yes actually, I do. And I deserved one. So I got one. And I wore it allll night. Thank you to Paul and Lorraine, who managed to sweet talk the Estonian medal police into letting me have one, it made my day!
Although Mike unfortunately couldn’t run due to injury, the rest of the Chasers ran really well with a sub 3 PB for Paul, a sold BQ for Rob, a great run from Emma despite hurting her back 2 days before, and an awesome PB for Lorraine in the half.
What then followed were a lot of drinks, some dinner, some more drinks, some silliness and some music.
There’ll be other marathons, and other opportunities to get a PB and a BQ but, right now, I’m a little bit over 26.2. I’ll face up to the fact I’ve signed up to a mountainous marathon in Gran Canaria next year a little later…