Save Me…Stockholm Marathon 2014

This poor fool here…sigh. Smiling like an idiot before reality sets in.

This poor fool here…sigh. Smiling like an idiot before reality sets in.

Back in December 2013, running a marathon seemed like such a great idea. Maybe I was hopped up on candy canes and Christmas cheer which impeded my ability to reason & make sound decisions? My sis had registered to run it and the Stockholm Marathon is billed as the most scenic marathon in Europe. So, why not? I really should’ve stopped to examine those reasons. Instead, I paid my money and started training. Then, got a new job and relocated from Atlanta to Washington, DC which meant I took a 2 month hiatus and just did mental training runs. Yeah, I said that. I claim a run even if it is just me taking a nap and dreaming about it. Which should tell you that I was not ready for this race. But, when has that stopped me? Remember when I wrote that letter from heaven after the Warrior Dash in 2011? Or when I got Jedi mind-tricked into doing Tough Mudder? Yeah, I never learn.

So, as with my other races, I am going to take you on the race with me…complete with pictures because you know I looked for ANY reason to take a break.

The race started at noon…which was kinda weird as most races start early in the morning. But, that worked for me because it meant I got to sleep in.

The only real prep I did was pack all the necessary running equipment...I guess "common sense" got left in DC.

The only real prep I did was pack all the necessary running equipment…I guess “common sense” got left in DC.

Let’s get started…

I am all limber and ready to go by the time the race starts. I feel good because I have on my favorite running outfit, compression socks and my running belt with electrolyte tabs & GU. Mentally, I’ve psyched myself up that this is just a sightseeing tour that I’m running instead of walking or biking. See? Sometimes you gotta lie to yourself to make it thru the day. Anyway, all is good and people are laughing and running with strides like Olympians.

After the first mile, I feel good. In fact, I think I’m a beast! My pace is awesome and the breeze is perfect. Then I remember I have 25.2 miles left to go and a piece of my soul dies. But, I psych myself up…I’m running a freaking marathon. Woohoo!!! (meanwhile people on the sidelines are looking at me like, “sucker.”)

Things are okay miles 2-5, then as I get to mile 6, I start to look for a scooter or Metro station. This can’t be my life. WHY AM I DOING THIS? GOD, DO YOU HEAR ME? Surely he can hear the sound of my sobs as I struggle.  Then, I look at my Garmin and notice that it is tracking a half mile off from the kilometer markers.  WTF?  I can’t run any extra steps.  So, I’m now running with this look on my face:

Only 8 kilometers?  Whatchu talkin' bout, Willis?  That should say 12!

Only 8 kilometers? Whatchu talkin’ bout, Willis? That should say 12!

Sigh.  Mile 7 arrives and my feet aren’t happy…even the song by Pharell can’t perk them up.  They are clinically depressed.  But, I’m talking myself thru it and focusing on my playlist…then I see a hill.  Lord, Jesus…WHY?  I grit my teeth and power thru it by just trying to sprint up as fast as I can while thinking about all the cakes and pies I’m going to eat to celebrate.

I will say that the course was laid out well and they had djs and bands throughout.  It was weird hearing someone calling my name over a loudspeaker when I stopped for a sports drink and telling me that I’m doing great…I guess the chip in my bib transmitted my name and country!  Very cool!  That got me feeling pretty good for the next 0.2 miles.  LOL

By mile 8, I was certain of 1 thing —

not ready

Seriously.  At this point, I’m mentally preparing my letter to send to Iyanla Vanzant asking her to fix my life because I am apparently the CEO of Bad Decisions, LLC.

Once mile 9 comes around, there is a big crowd and I notice they are really enthusiastic!  I thought to myself, “How nice!!!  They are cheering me on.  I can do this!”  Then, just as I’m luxuriating in all the adulation & affections, I see a Kenyan sprint right past me with a police escort.  Wait…did he just lap me?  IS HE ALMOST TO THE FINISH LINE?  CAN I HOP ON THAT POLICE VAN?  So many questions.  But, alas, I realized that the applause wasn’t for me…the lady who got lapped.  It was for the winner.  But, lets pretend like it’s still for me, mmkay?

By mile 10, I knew it was a wrap.  I made so many errors in thinking I could run this race.

  1. First, I didn’t finish training.  Having my longest training run as 8 miles did not prepare me for this.
  2. Second, I have  ran in my regular training sneakers — not the new ones I bought.  My thought process was that the new ones were just like my training shoes but would be “fresh”…well, they were fresh alright…fresh hell.  My feet felt like I had been running barefoot over crack pipes for 10 miles!
  3. Third, I don’t really like running.  I mean, I’ve done it for a long time and always thought I should do a marathon…but I don’t like running long distances.  I’m okay with topping out at a half marathon.  13.1 miles is the perfect distance and it feels like 9,658,720,148,932,451 miles anyway…so I win.
  4. It’s okay to say “no”.  I didn’t have to run this race when I knew I wasn’t ready.  And, it is okay that I wouldn’t get my money back.  Sometimes, you gotta know when to hold’em, and when to fold’em.

So, at mile 11, I ran right off the course and into the waiting arms of a beautiful park bench.  I swear I could not walk for at least 30 minutes and had to take my shoes off for relief.  I don’t feel bad at all for not finishing the race.  Why?  Because I am alive.  LOL.  I saw so many other people had the same idea so I did not feel like a loser.  In fact, when I had a debate with myself about finishing the second lap, my saner side was like —

Another mile?  Bye, Felecia!

Another mile? Bye, Felecia!

The good news is that my sis did finish the race and I am so super proud of her!!!  26.2 miles is a major achievement!!!  Have you ever registered for a race and didn’t finish?  Please don’t tell me I’m the only one!!!

Race Series: How I Survived the Paris-Versailles 16K Race!

Running an international race was on my bucket list this year so I jumped at the chance of participating in the Paris-Versailles 16K (which is 10 miles)!  I had run a half marathon earlier this year so I thought it would be a piece of cake.  Wrong.  I was required to have my doctor sign a medical waiver (clue #1).  Since I love Paris and Versailles, I thought this would be a great idea and it would give me a chance to see some beautiful scenery.  I had read the info on the race website and a question was asked about the terrain.  The question was “I’ve never ran the Paris-Versailles, is the race difficult?”  The reply, “The race, in spite of the reputation of the “Côte des gardes”, is still easier than a half marathon. Be careful on the last climb to Viroflay (before the feeding station of km 13) who is redoubtable, as well as the slight incline of the Avenue de Paris in Versailles, which can seem endless.”  (clue #2)  That’s it.  Keep that response in mind for later, k?

I get up, head to Starbucks for yogurt and then take the train to the Eiffel Tower where the race is to start.  Um, why were there several funky folks on the train?  Dude, you haven’t even ran the race yet?  You want to be smelling like booty funk when you wake up?  Hose yourself off and get some deodorant.  The thought going thru my mind was, “what the hell is it going to smell like after the race?” 

So, we arrive at the Eiffel Tower and it is packed.  The race had sold out about a month earlier.

View of people walking over the Seine towards the starting line.

I met up with a couple of French colleagues in the starting area (which is packed).  Then, as we are lining up, my colleague says, “Hey, be careful out there because people have died running this race.”  Wait, WHAT?  People have died?  Why wasn’t that in the literature???  He tells me that people always overdo it because they aren’t ready for the huge hill between kilometers 6 and 8.  They don’t pace themselves appropriately.  Then, he says that he saw 2 people die a couple of years ago.  WHAT THE HELL?  WHY AM I JUST NOW HEARING ABOUT THIS MESS?  I AM NOT READY TO DIE.  I HAVEN’T SAID GOOD-BYE!  So, I did the best I could…sent a message on Facebook telling everybody that it’s been a good life & requested they keep me lifted in up prayer.  Ha!

The race has a rolling start but unlike half & full marathons, you aren’t grouped by pace.  They just let a certain amount of people start running every 2 minutes.  Finally, our group is released to start the race.  A couple of things I notice from the start.  First, there is no concept of personal space.  People just run all up on you so you are constantly covered in other people’s sweat.  It’s gross.  And you cannot avoid it.  Second, Port-O-Potties are a suggestion, not a requirement.  While they have some at the hydration stations, most people just stopped running and urinated on the side of the road.  Men AND WOMEN.  I don’t need to see Jean-Claude whip out his junk and I certainly don’t need to see Chanel pull her pants down and squat.  Really?  On the side of the road???  I can’t take it.

Once I’m over that, I’m able to continue focusing on my run.  Then, I see some guys running in chicken costumes.  In the heat…for 10 miles.  I’m sure that seemed like a neat concept in theory.  By the 3km marker, the chicken head had come off and was tossed to the side…by the 6km marker, the entire suit was tossed.


I’m just running along and then I come to the 6km marker and see what I’m gonna call the “Hill to Jesus”.  It went straight up.  Seriously?  What the hell?  I just started looking around for a train or bus stop because I just knew that I the hill would kill me and I would have to ask Jesus to help me out.  As I start my Jesus quest, I’m thinking that I have 20 Euro and could either find a taxi or bribe a kid to let me hop on his scooter.  The 2 km Jesus run seemed like it was 26 miles.  I honestly didn’t think I would make it.  I cursed myself out the entire time I was running (while I listened to Marvin Sapp’s “Never Would of Made it” to give me some encouragement.  Ha!).  I finally made it, gave thanks to Jesus and prayed that it was all downhill after that.  It wasn’t.  However, 11-13km was pretty good.  While I survived the hill, not everybody did.  I saw 3 people being rushed to the hospital via ambulance.  It’s weird passing ambulances that are stationed at every kilometer.  I also ran past several people at the medics tent getting oxygen and other medical care.  You know I was like, “uh…maybe I should just take a quick break and have them check my pressure?”  But, I kept it going.

Then there was another hill.  WTF?!?!?!?  I saw the medic scooter and thought, “I’m saved!”but it flew right on past to help out someone else.  They were probably faking.  I finally come to the last hydration station that has sugar cubes (that’s new for me), oranges, water and Powerade…and they are playing Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”…aw yeah!  That gets me hyped and I get a little burst of energy…

And, I finally cross the finish line 2 hours after I started the race.  One more goal achieved!!