Without much preparation, I ran another marathon. We left at 4AM from Tsin-Hua univesity on a bus and went to Wanli district, an area on the east coast of Taiwan. It is surprising to me that so many people have passion to running, since to arrive to the start line in time youʼd have to wake up at 2-3 AM in the morning. On Sunday. After a working Saturday (it was so because of the previous holidays).
Anyway, at 6:30 AM several thousands people lined up to run through a very scenic coastline, considered to be the most picturesque area of Taiwan. Gorgeous mountains surround it, and you can always hear the roar of the ocean as you make your way through the marathon. The weather was rather comfortable – around +20 centigrade, foggy which means no direct exposure to sun. I started in a joyful mood in a similar fashion to my previous runs – running fast, trying to build up some advantage for the 2nd half of the race. The route of the marathon includes going on a highway 20km in one direction, turning around, and going back. I noticed in the beginning that we were making our way though some hills, so I reazlied that Iʼd have some tough time coming back. Boy, what an underestimation it was! Another thing that made me worried was the medical help stations every 5km. No other marathon has those. Why would anybody need medical help so often (every 5 km)? I found out why on my way back… It was horrible.
In addition, after we reached 20km a rain began. It was not for very long, and not very severe, but still. The good side is that you donʼt need to use sponges to put some moisture on your head – you are already wet. After the rain the temperature decreased somewhat but it became slippery. So I had to put additional effort on my legs. That is what I believe nearly killed that day. My legs started to hurt at 25km. I had terrible muscle cramps! OK, now you know why there were medical stations at every 5km… I really really needed them!
Despite the pains, I kept enjoying my marathon. Look at these cheerleaders from a local kindergarden. Rain or shine – they will greet you with their warm hands. Also there were some aboriginal music bands. Also, after the rain ended it became less foggy and less cloudy. The day was becoming a rather nice one.
So, with lots of pains in my legs I came to 30km. Here is the medical station. What a relief! I put some spray on my legs, from top to bottom, and immediately the pain was gone. But not for very long. Still, I could not run uphill. I had to walk. What a miserable feeling! There are very long hills in this marathon, they are not steep, but I had trouble even running on a smooth surface. I could only run downhill. At this moment I thought – this is it, no good result today.
Sometimes, winning a race is not finishing it in good time. Winning a marathon means fighting with yourself, with pain, and with the desire to give up. Keeping this in mind, I went on from one medical station to the next. Then I started to notice that many people had similar problems – some of them stayed on the side of the road massaging their legs. Fortunately, my legs were not completely stalled, I could move along at a very low speed, though. Whenever I tried to accelerate, muscle cramps reappeared. But it was still enjoyable, because I was surrounded by a pack of people going at a similar speed, the spirit of camaraderie helped me a lot.
I expected to finish the marathon in 5 hours. Thatʼs what the common wisdom says: if you walk part of the marathon, youʼd finish in 5 hours. But I walked nearly 20 kms, so I was wondering whether I can still make it in under 5 hours or not. When I was approaching finish line my (poor) eyesight played a joke with me. From afar, I saw electric clock: 4:41:00. Not bad, after all, I thought. However, after I got closer I saw: 4:14:30. WOW!!!! I was so excited! How is it possible to walk for such a long time and still finish the marathon in nearly 4 hours? To me it sounds next to impossible. Most likely, after I started to have muscle pains, I got caught in a teleporter.