Just about everything about my first marathon experience remains indelibly etched on my brain, because it turned out to be a lesson in what not to do when preparing for a race! I flaunted the rules when it came to eating properly in preparation for my debut and I won’t share details about this nightmare, so use your imagination.
As if treating my gastrointestinal tract (GI system) shabbily wasn’t bad enough, guess who bought a new pair of running shoes days before the event and because I wanted to look cool and left them in the box so they wouldn’t get dirty? In sum, the fact that I ever put on running shoes and competed again is, according to my friends, a modern day miracle.
Am I alone? Hardly. Trading war stories as I go from one competition to the next is part of the fun. We trade funny, humiliating and near-catastrophic tales, each of which became so fascinating, I started to jot down some of their experiences in a journal. I’m eager to share four with you so you understand that even a catastrophic first marathon doesn’t mean one can’t learn a lesson or two and keep on running!
Fatin’s Story: Splash of Reality
Fatin signed up for a marathon after a friend dared her to run one and she always says yes when presented with a challenge! She was methodical about her preparation because that’s her nature, so when she arrived at the start line, she felt confident her first marathon experience was going to be positive. The morning air energised her, despite weather reports predicting a sultry day ahead.
Pacing herself, Fatin was lulled into complacency as hours passed and she began to hope her first marathon would surpass even her own timing hopes. Fatin noticed runners stopping at every hydration station, but she felt fine and didn’t want to stop, so she kept going, even as her body temperature rose in direct proportion to the noon sun.
The paramedic pouring water over her head is the next thing she remembers. Happily, an IV of saline dripping into her veins restored her to life and she took the word of the paramedic who told her how lucky she was to have suffered no permanent damage by refusing to stop at hydration stations in hopes of finishing faster. These days, when Fatin’s not competing, she’s the first to volunteer to staff hydration stations!
Regina’s Story: ‘Tail’ of Man’s Best Wingman
Regina is so exotic, she could appear on magazine covers. But her looks, she knew, would only get her so far as time passed and her ability to maintain a slim body without effort was also becoming problematic. Regina decided to add exercise to her schedule, and since all of her friends ran, a decision about which fitness path to take was easy.
After faithfully training to build stamina and condition her body, Regina signed up for a half-marathon to test her mettle. She faced her first competitive event with a mix of excitement and nervousness. Just off the blocks, she calmed her nerves by breathing deeply and focusing on faces of the crowds along the run route.
When a giant mixed-breed dog dragging a leash ran into her legs, she lost her balance. As the dog licked her face, its owner came to her rescue. Regina might have developed an instant crush on the handsome man were she not feeling so depressed about short-circuiting her first marathon attempt courtesy of the Golden Retriever mix. To her shock, as paramedics loaded her into an ambulance, the guy and the dog jumped in, too.
After being properly bandaged at a clinic, her saviour drove her home, and by the time they reached her apartment, the two had a dinner date. Did Regina decide to stop competing after her catastrophic first experience? No way! She went on to complete a half-marathon, several full marathons and she was planning to go for an ultra. But not before she and her rescuer honeymooned at the famous Marathon du Medoc in France where about 8,000 runners show up to drink wine and run. Their first toast? To his dog, of course!
Nikkori’s Story: Couch to Changed Man
Nikkori gained weight. He not only morphed into a couch potato but a chair potato and bed potato, too. He went to work, came home, ate and slept. It didn’t help that his mother cleaned his apartment every week. When his doctor stopped dropping hints and got serious, he told Nikkori that for a young man, he was facing weight-related illnesses and worse if he didn’t do something about his weight, but Nikkori didn’t want to give up his favourite hobby (eating), so he decided to start running.
Not one to ease into an activity, Nikkori thought that signing up for a marathon would motivate him to follow his doctor’s orders, but he soon grew bored with the walks that were to prepare him for conditioning runs, so he turned into the consummate slacker. On the evening before his first marathon run, he stopped by Xi Di Li, picked up a bag of his favourite sweet doughnuts and ate so many, he slept fitfully.
Nikkori didn’t feel well at the start line but he had paid his race fee and thought that maybe he could shuffle along for a short distance just to make his doctor happy, collapsing before he hit the first mile marker. Doctors at the hospital diagnosed him with Type 2 diabetes and scared him so badly, he not only joined a health club, hired a trainer and forbade his mother from buying his groceries, but he got a new lease on life thanks to a first-time marathon experience that literally saved his life.
Alex’s Story: A Secret Affair
Alex still lived with his overly protective mum. Every time he decided to do something risky, she broke down, cried and fussed so much, he took a pass on what seemed to be a fun, healthy or promising social opportunity. So when Alex got fed up with missing out on so much, he began to lie. He told his mum he had to work late and instead worked out regularly at a gym.
When he joined a running club, he knew he’d have to be mindful of his mouth because he was required to attend team practices, so he told his mum he was joining a computer club! Thinking himself clever and sly, Alex got into top shape for his first marathon, going so far as to stow his race-related materials, running gear and clothing in his health club locker.
Waving goodbye to his mum on the morning of his first marathon, he said he was meeting his computer mates for an early breakfast, then set out for the race venue. Happily, Alex and his buddies had an extraordinary day, set new personal bests and showed up at a big post-race celebration where he and his friends were treated like celebrities.
Exhausted, Alex returned home fairly late and was stunned to find his mother waiting.
“What are you doing up?” he asked.
“Watching TV,” she answered.
“Shouldn’t you be in bed?”
“I wanted to see you before I turned in,” she added.
A grin spreading across her face. “Congratulations.”
“You look good on TV!” she exclaimed.
Can You Still Remember Your First Marathon Experience?
Everyone’s first marathon story is special and we hope these four amused and entertained you, but now it’s time for you to add your tale!
Won’t you share your unique first marathon experience with us?