A lesson from the Bend Marathon: prepare, prepare, prepare

by Kim on October 12, 2011 · 21 comments

I skipped the Boston Marathon and the New York City Marathon this year in order to save money for our trip around the world. As consolation, I signed up for a race closer to home: the first annual Bend Marathon in central Oregon.

Bend is a magical place for me.  It’s an adorable, outdoorsy, mountain town.  Escaping Portland’s hipster scene for Bend’s climbing-hiking-bluegrass scene makes me undeniably happy.  Brian and I got married in Bend, and when we’re there we walk around dreaming up ways to move there some day (seriously, how do people make money in that city?).

Anyway, showing up in Bend always transports me directly into vacation mode.  That’s fine, most of the time, except when I’ve come to run a marathon.  If you’re a runner you know that running is as mental as it is physical.  Here’s a marathon tip: Drinking two beers and eating tater tots the night before the race is not the best way to mentally (or physically) prepare for it.

But even my pre-race preparations could have been overlooked if I had, indeed, trained for the race in the first place.  But this was my fifth marathon and I’d grown a little cocky.  This time around my marathon training consisted of eating nachos, drinking margaritas, sitting at happy hour and saying things like: I’m running a marathon next month, I should really start training. Oh, excuse me, I’ll take another IPA please!, and all but growing right out of my jeans.  It’s hard work, training for a marathon.

Marathon training in June, with my sister

Here’s another marathon tip: It’s a good idea to be familiar with the course before you show up at the starting line.  I’d prudently noted where the starting line was but had neglected to pay much attention to anything that came after that.

Unfortunately I didn’t see this article until after the race

What came after that was a brutal 26.2 miles at elevation and a hill for the last seven miles.  To top it off the marathon was really small.  There were only about 100 runners and a mere 75 actually finished.  That meant no crowds of cheering supporters, no bands, no cowbells (more cowbell!), no people watching opportunities.  It was just open road and hill after hill after f*@#ing hill.

 The lonely, open road

Luckily I was running with friends.  Without them I might have quit.  It was that bad.

 Running with friends.  Hey!  Recognize those shorts?  

Anyway, I did finish the race, but I was not feeling good afterwards.  I’d started feeling pretty bad at mile 15, and by the time I crossed the finish line I was done.  

But we had strategically booked a room at an awesome little hotel with an open-air Turkish soaking pool, and I’ve never quite learned the definition of moderation.  So instead of listening to my body which said rest, for the love of god, rest!, I instead drank a beer, turned down food, changed into a bathing suit and headed out for a little 102 degree soak in the pool.

And that was nice, until it wasn’t.  By the time I realized I was in real trouble it was already too late.  I got out of the pool, took a few steps, then leaned against the wall and fainted.  In my bathing suit.    

I eventually recovered after a few hours of rest, hydration and food, but I’m sure I scared the shit out of my friends and Brian who witnessed the whole episode.  And overall the experience just kicked my butt.  I got sick later in the week and continued to feel crappy.  Even after I physically rebounded my ego just felt defeated.  

I told Brian that I was working on a blog post about the Bend Marathon but that I couldn’t quite nail down my point.  There was a lesson in it all, but I couldn’t articulate it.  

He thought about it for a second and said: The point is to not take what you’re able to do for granted, to respect it.  To remember that no matter how many times you’ve done something, if you want to do your best, you always need to work at it.  

And so it is.  

 The runners and proof of our survival

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