February 3, 2017
At what point did it occur to me that running a full marathon was a good idea?
It was sometime in early 2014, in Moshi, Tanzania. I had just run the half marathon distance in the Kilimanjaro marathon. I realized that I had always wanted to do a full marathon, and this was as good a year as any. With that, my sights were set on the Standard Chartered marathon that would be held later that year, in October. That gave me almost 8 months of training – ample time to get run ready. I rallied up my running mates and soon after we started training towards this goal. Every month we would organize “long” runs complete with route support – water, fruit and energy drink stations.
As race day approached, we kept increasing the distances of the long run over the months. Starting in the twenties, and a couple of months to the race and we were already doing 30, 35 and some even did 37. On the last long run a month to the race, I know some individuals did close to a full marathon distance – I guess to ease their nerves on race day.
Race day was here with us. I was very nervous, I remember wondering if I would be able to finish. I comforted myself that if things got bad I would just call my wife to come and pick me, or alternatively take a taxi home. I would tell the cab guy that I’d pay him once we got home, since I wasn’t carrying any cash. See? I had it all figured out. Noises from the crowds at the start line got my mind back from its wanderings. A race commentator’s voice was thundering through the public address system.
“…42 kilometers is a really really long distance.” He warned.
“We are starting – all the best!” One of my training partners said.
I was in a state of confusion and perhaps anxiety.
Why did I sign up for this? I thought to myself.
Usually a lot of people start off really fast during a race, only to run out of steam a few kilometers later. I’m not sure if it excitement or nerves or even both. From previous races I had learnt to not bother what other people are doing. Run your own race.
I did manage to cross the finish line in a respectable 4 hours 27 minutes. To say I was exhausted at the finish line cannot possibly capture my state. I was spent, body and soul. I remember sitting at a courtesy tent staring at a plate of rice, chicken and chapatti and wishing someone could blend it for me like the mixed fruit juice I had just drank. I had no strength even to chew food.
I must say the running group was instrumental in allowing me to run and complete my first full marathon. As I walked out of the stadium to catch a matatu home, I was already planning for my next marathon.
By Nicholas Muteti
Recreational runner, Engineer