Riga marathon race recap
I am home from my Northern Europe Tour 2016 ;) and have a few days to catch up on sleep, ease back into work, and be sad that I’m not still in Europe. I thought I would start with a race recap to get that out of the way.
I felt confident going into this race that I could match or come close to my Napa Valley Marathon PR (two months prior). HAHAHAHA. My body and mind had other plans. I had a cold at the beginning of the week I left. I fought it for two days straight and I woke up Wednesday morning, May 11th, feeling like I had kicked it! My flight was that night and I slept well on the overnight flight to London Heathrow, but when I woke up, I was very congested and clearing my throat nonstop. Le Sigh.
I also woke up around 3:30 am every morning until I was in Lithuania (6 days into my trip) and could not get back to sleep. So Friday and Saturday before the marathon, I pretty much had about 8 hours of sleep combined. Marathon morning, I felt good and thought maybe I could just ride on adrenaline, training, the experience of two months earlier, the list of my confidence boosters goes on, but I could not, it was a tough race.
The weather started out with no rain in the forecast until noon, so I knew I would be running in some rain because I am not a fast runner and the race started at 8:30 am. The start was energetic and the race director was very enthusiastic, giving the runners a nice pep talk and thank you in both Latvian and English. This race was well managed, affordable, had great crowd support and cheer stations along the way, and very good water/sports drink/toilet stations. It was also very flat. I would run it again.
I was comfortable until about mile 7 when I high-fived some VERY TALL man who was dressed in traditional Latvian dress at a cheer station, where they were all standing on a 4-5′ high stage lining the edge of the course. I had given all the children in the same costumes high fives because they were so cute and then I had to kind of jump a bit to high five him and I had a weird pain in my knee for two miles after that. So then when we passed by them all again at mile 24, no one got high fives from me.
Miles 7-15 were rough. I don’t know why other than it was humid and I realized how tired I was. I was adequately fueling and hydrating and I felt good other than congestion and just feeling like I wanted a good nights sleep - my legs were not actually tired. I did ask three course marshals about quitting at the halfway point. When it became clear that would be stupid (no medal, no official time, no proof that I did anything) I decided I had to keep going. Not just for the medal but because I am not a quitter. As the half marathoners were entering their finish chute to the right of me and I was continuing on, I kept my face as normal and as poker-faced as possible and when the spectators were not so close anymore, I started crying. I was tired and wanted to quit and I was mad at myself for wanting to quit. I was also annoyed a bit that I was at the beginning of the last half. That is kind of daunting, mentally. As the crowd thinned out, and the runners were a bit farther from me, I told myself to pull it together and finish and just deal with it because I was more than halfway finished.
Miles 15-20 were slow and steady, I gave up on time at that point so I just walked and ran but tried to keep myself running. I was getting more tired. The humidity had gone away and it was starting to cool off and a light rain fell intermittently. I don’t remember much from this part other than the very tall man from Finland who was always in front of or behind me. He had quite the fan club out there on the course, and an amazing mustache and long white flowing hair. It was like running behind a thin Santa Claus. Every time he passed a course cheer station with an emcee, he would grab the microphone and say something in Finnish, which hardly anyone understands unless they live in Finland or are one of the minority speakers in Sweden or Norway. I was entertained by him. I actually saw him after the race when I was trying to get a taxi (this story I might tell one day) and he shook my hand and gave me what I can only assume was a “congratulations” in Finnish.
Miles 20-26.2 coincided with the start of the 10k. When I saw them starting and realized that we would have to join up with them on the course and run together, I was scared that they would run over us. To have a bunch of tired marathoners run with people who were only running 6 miles seemed like a cruel joke. When I actually did join up with them, I was able to gain a second (maybe actually third or fourth) wind and run at a respectable pace again. It gave me a renewed energy and I passed a lot of them! At mile 20, a light rain started and it became increasingly heavy as the race went on until I finished in a pouring rain. POURING. I was soaked, wetter than Napa (go back to that post for a refresher). The last two miles were also run on slippery brick paved streets. I think I was only able to stay upright by reminding myself that if I fell, it was not going to be just me that got hurt and stepped on SO STAY UPRIGHT. Run fast but not so fast that I endanger myself and others.
It was at this point to point of the course that I also almost stepped in a giant pothole but some kind 10k runner pointed it out to me before it happened. As I thanked him profusely, he said: “you can’t run almost 42 km to have it ruined by a hole in the street!” Then said I was “amazing” for running the 42 km and he was impressed. I didn’t feel amazing but he boosted my energy. He saw me at the finish too (I finished before him ;) and shook my hand and again told me “amazing job, 42 km is crazy!” and I thanked him and congratulated him on his 10k.
I happily collected my medal, lamented my slow time but resolved to do better next time, and did not take any finish photos because it was raining so hard and I didn’t want to ruin my phone and wandered off to begin the odyssey that was a trek back to my Airbnb apartment.
The official finish was third or fourth in the rank of my times at 5:09:29 but faster than Reykjavik (5:13 something). It was a lovely race, it just was not my day.