My First Marathon

Remember how I mentioned that I ran a race? Here, finally, is a post about my triumph experience.


You need to understand that I’m not a runner. Not at all. Duncan, on the other hand, has become one since joining the tour (remember that half marathon back in Auckland?). Well, truth be told, he has rediscovered that he’s a runner. He used to play soccer and was (OBVIOUSLY) a champion orienteerer in his youth.

I, on the other hand, hate running. Likely because I stink at it and have no patience to get better at it when there are tons of other ways to exercise. Nevermind that my track record of actually engaging in these “other ways” is spotty at best. However, with Duncan running several times a week and the majority of my friends also runners of some description, I finally looked up a self-guided, “learn to run” program last fall. I also booked myself a podiatrist appointment, since my feet always hurt and I figured it was time to get orthotics or something.

God bless my kind, gentle, very senior podiatrist who looked me straight in the eye while holding my bare feet and implored me not to take up running. “These feet are not made for running“, he impressed upon me with the full weight of his decades of experience with people’s feet.

I’m sorry, are you putting me under doctor’s orders to avoid running? NO FREAKIN’ PROBLEM. Best. Excuse. Ever.

Then One Day in Rome…

The Rome Marathon just happened to be on the tour’s final day in Rome. In the lead-up to Rome I had heard some of Duncan’s running buddies bemoaning their inability, due to work schedules, to do the race. There was, however, a 4K that might be possible. M&R mentioned it to me, stressing that it would be super fun, super low-key. I said I’d at least come meet them at the finish line to take in the atmosphere. You know, doctor’s orders n’all.

I idly checked my phone the next day while munching on pizza outside, only to find an hours-old text from R:

R (8:30 a.m.): “we’re signing you up for the 4K, ok?”

me (2:00 p.m.): “did this happen?”

R (2:05 p.m.): “Yep. We have your race kit and t-shirt”

Well shit. So much for doctor’s orders. I immediately started Planning. Should I actually run any of it? I need a playlist! I don’t have proper running clothes!! Duncan dutifully rolled his eyes.

I calmed down considerably when I read about the 4K on the marathon’s official website. More so when I saw the pictures and realized that what M had said about it being so crowded we probably wouldn’t be able to run was true. Ridiculous numbers show up for this fun run. Definite emphasis on the fun.

Race Day

I was the extreme odd one out in our little group of four (M&R, and V) – two did the full marathon in Auckland, one did the half. All of them had proper running gear, in sharp contrast to me actually wearing the free tshirt and long, too-heavy pants. And sporting a backpack. Hey man, I was promised a fun run involving little actual running!

At first there wasn’t any. Just a perfectly sunny morning and an amazingly crowded scene all around the Colosseum with the real marathoners starting from one area and the fun runners herding into place for our later, far less regimented start.

Thousands and thousands of people turned up for the fun run. Families, dogs, running groups… it was one of those scenes that actually makes you feel pretty okay about humanity; that this many people can congregate to do something fun. The marathoners, on the other hand, kind of make me wonder what’s wrong with humanity and why so many people love to torture themselves.

By the way, the race mascot bore a striking resemblance to my favourite late night German puppet. Did I ever mention that we figured out the deal with that thing when we saw it yet again a few weeks later? It’s a depressive loaf of bread and the mascot for a children’s TV station. Obviously.

ANYWAY, when the fun run actually began we were content to walk with the crowd, taking in the bands, the dogs, the sights, the frigging “being-there-ness” of it all. Well, I was. The Real Runners sort of/mostly were. But slowly, they lost patience. It was agreed they would run at least for a while, weaving in and around crowds like many others were doing. OK no problem, I can run a bit. A short bit. A very, very short bit.

The sun was suddenly a lot hotter and the gentle inclines quickly turned into huge mountains. God bless M, she stayed with me even when I implored her just to carry on and run, as I didn’t want to ruin her fun. She refused, however, and scuffle-walked with me to the bitter end (where we found R and V patiently waiting).

It was still fun, to scuffle-walk amidst the crowds with nuns watching and the Colosseum slowly coming back into our sights. It was extremely unfun to be outfitted so poorly, and, well, to be so NOT IN RUNNING SHAPE. It almost sparked my competitive spirit enough to flout my doctor’s orders and take up running.

Almost, but not quite.

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2 Responses to My First Marathon

  1. Val says:

    I kind of got hung up on the depressed loaf of bread mascot….

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