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From Couch To Marathon Part 3

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any organizations, events or publications mentioned in this post. All the links are there for informational purposes only.

In the previous post I told you about the roughest patch on my journey. My little clash with AI (just waiting for a naked Arnold-looking-guy to show up now to protect me). But that patch turned also to be a life (or at least a run) changing moment for me. It allowed me to run just for the joy of it. Just to be able to go the distance using your own legs. A bit further, a bit faster, little by little. (We cross the line o-oo woo-o, okay then, moving on Alice). I started to really enjoy running. But was it enough to run a marathon?

So now I trained with more sense and more fulfillment. Next in the line was the Helsinki Half Marathon and at that point I was already looking forward to it. I knew that I could run it easily if I did not try to break any records, so there was no need to be nervous at all.

The day came. My friend who was running it with me, came to our place the day before and we got up at 4 AM to get to the early 8 AM start. (I live in the middle of nowhere, remember, and we needed to pick up our numbers hours before start). Weather was nice, not too hot or cold. We had a little warm-up walk and watched as more and more people started to show up. Once again you could feel the excitement, the electricity in the air. It went straight through me and fired me up.

The run itself went pretty much as well as it could, I made the best ever time on that distance and felt good the whole time (well, almost the whole time.. okay at least the half of the time). Afterwards we went to eat and I could just enjoy the feeling that run gave to me for the following week.

Picture of guy holding BMW Helsinki Half Marathon 2023 medal

What I could not enjoy however, was the shin splints I started to get afterwards. My training had suddenly become more effective after I tweaked it (and threw that AI-garbage to the toilet) and my feet could not keep up. So I got new, more stable running shoes, added a couple of exercises to my routine and had a few easier weeks of training to get rid of the pain. Then just as my runs started to feel better, I got the flu and had to rest for a while. And the marathon was quickly coming.

My original plan was getting almost a full year of training before the marathon, which then changed to the half year and quickly had diminished to be actually five months or less in total. Some (smarter people than me) would probably just change their plan and attend the marathon next year. But I did not. (I am me, not those other people)

So August 2023 came quickly (seriously, what happened in June and July?) The day of Helsinki Marathon came and once again I had to wake up at 4 AM to be on time to get my number. I basically did not sleep (baby did not sleep, but I would probably not sleep anyways) at all the night before. I was anxious. Dark thoughts started creeping from the back of my mind and I started to doubt myself. However, when I got off the train in Helsinki and started my journey to the event area I remembered. I do this, I run, because it feels good. I do not need to prove myself to anyone. I just need to enjoy the ride. I started to see other people who were going to run as well. It made me happy for some reason.

When the time came I walked to the starting pit with a smile on my face. I was ready. The feeling of being part of something was greater than in any other event or race I had attended. It gave me strength. All of these people were here doing the same thing. All of them were gonna run 42,195 kilometers. (Well I guess there were also 10k and half-marathon runners, but anyway). I was not alone.

The marathon itself was not the best run I have had. I started to run too fast at the beginning (rookie mistake, I know, I just really like doing them) and it resulted in a collapse in the speed at the end. Those last 10k felt to be as long as all the earlier kilometers together, but I just forced myself forward. (At that point, the fun was not in the run, I have to admit). But I got strength from people cheering around and giving high-fives. I got strength from some deep down place in my mind I did not knew exists. And then, finally, I crossed the finish line. A multitude of emotions hit me from every side. I did it. I really did it.

Picture of guy holding BMW Helsinki Marathon 2023 medal

Looking at it back now it is obvious that I did not have enough time to train for it (remember to not do as I do, do as I say and train enough) and I tried to go faster than I physically could have (I really like making those mistakes) and it could have gone far worse, buuuut I try to remember it next time.

A year(s) before I had spent most of my time on the couch and now, now I ran a marathon. It felt great. (Although my legs might disagree with that). And it is not just that I could do it. Of course I wanted to find out if I could, however by trying to do that I had found something far more valuable. I had found joy in the running itself.

I had found a way for me to be free.

Misty sunrise at forest
The future is shrouded in mist. But I do know one thing. I will continue running as long as I physically can.


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