What happens during a marathon can be a matter of what happened the few days that lead
up to the marathon. A marathon
is 26.2 miles (although you usually end up running about half a mile more) and median finish time for women is 4:44. In those four hours, a lot can happen! Keep in m
ind, I speak from my own experience. Of course, not all marathons are the same. I’ve run some where I can barely walk after I finish, and others where I can leap across the finish line for a cute finish line photo (it wasn’t cute).
The first thing that happens is that you usually stand there waiting in your corral, freezing. Sometimes up to 20 minutes. I start in the A corral at the Houston Marathon, which closes at 6:40am and the race doesn’t start until 7:00. So if it rains and is cold as it was a few years ago, you freeze your booty off and you make buddies with the people who were smart enough to bring an umbrella.
Let’s talk about what’s know as Runner’s Trots. So gross, but such a reality. It’s my biggest worry during each marathon. As you’re bouncing up and down for hours, taking in the sugars of the Gatorade and gel packs, you may get an upset stomach. Or in my case, you weren’t smart about what you ate in the days leading up to the race or long run and you suffer the consequences. Without getting into the details, I can say that( thank goodness), I’ve never experienced an upset stomach during a marathon, however, I’ve had many long runs which I have. In one 20 miler, I stopped at nearly every Starbucks inside the loop and even the Kindred Hospital on Main Street where I had to bang on the window at 5 am, so that the janitor would let me in. My what-was-supposed-to-be 3 hour long run turned into a 4:15 run. If you have to pee, most of the men are lucky enough to just run over to a bush and take care of business right there. We women on the other hand have to hold tight until the next port-o-potty is available, which is one of the nastiest things.
Another delight of running is the chafing. Everyone chafes in different spots. For me, it’s under my arms, kind of where my arm connects to my back. The motion of swinging my arms back and forth rubs the skin raw, to where even showering burns. I also chafe under my sports bra, between my breast along the rib cage. I have permanent scar there, about an inch long that’s visible in a bikini from all the times it’s been chafed.
Have you ever seen a runner’s foot? There may be a few toenails missing, some calluses may have formed, and there’s probably dried up and peeling skin somewhere. Somehow I have managed to avoid any lost toenails, but I definitely have experienced all of the others. I’ve had giant blood blisters under neath my toenail, to where I have had to stick a needle into my nail bed to drain the blood for some relief.
During the 2007 Chicago Marathon, I became so dehydrated (there was a heat wave that year) that I got several horrible leg cramps. Another runner had to help me stretch out because I was in excruciating pain and could barely move. The worst cramps for me are usually in my calves. I’ve had them in my hamstrings as well. I’ve worked extra hard on strengthening this muscle to help.
Not everything that happens during the marathon is gross or painful. Sometimes, you meat some really great people as I did during the marathon in Greece. Meeting Alex and Bollas was the only way I was going to finish that race. You also run into some amazing people, like Dick and Rick Hoyt, I’ve run next to them twice.
Here’s to hoping that on Sunday, during the Houston Marathon all goes smoothly, no chafes, trots, or cramped muscles from the inevitable heat! Good luck everyone!