I relax in a whirlpool tub easing the tension in my calves and hamstrings – while reliving the beauty of the chateaux and vineyards that I left behind after completing the marathon – stiff but not bad considering… the hills!
Nowhere did I read about the hilliness of the vineyards, a foreshadowing moment occurred when I met a man on the plane to France two weeks ago who had run the marathon years earlier and commented in a serious tone:
“there are many hills.”
I briefly panicked hearing that description and then forgot about it until half way through the run.
First Ten Kilometres
The golden confetti rained on our heads as we surged forward with a joie de vivre that lasted for about the first five kilometres.
Huge, jostling crowds at the first few water/wine stations prevented me from getting water let alone wine. I realized this wasn’t going to be just “a fun, casual run.” The silly costumes and jovial atmosphere hid the true nature of the run: deceivingly difficult.
At one point, I was eating dust from the dirt road kicked up by the runners ahead of me. Motorcycle cameramen passing me spewing gas fumes, which I tried to avoid breathing, and silly men with swords, daggers and canes kept waving the ‘weapons’ absurdly close to my face.
But I could handle the obstacles in my way and I had a strong running gait – onward!
30 Kilometre Mark
Lead-like legs, rocky dirt roads, uneven terrain and endless rows of grape-bulging vines undulating through the countryside, I was beginning to suffer as I trudged through the Haut-Medoc region of France. I felt a stiffness in my knee and hamstrings that I had never experienced before – at one point I thought: should I quit before I hurt myself?
An emphatic “NO” blared in my head!
I could still move so that made me believe, even if I did injure myself, it wouldn’t be so bad.
Overhearing one man speaking in English (I think he was Danish talking to a German woman):
“If you drink enough wine, it makes you forget the pain you have.”
I heeded his advice and actually had a few more sips of wine after 37 kilometres and yes, the stiffness/pain seemed less obvious. I have never tasted such perfect wines – a fresh, fruity, rich superb essence – so smooth but an earthy edge. I gazed lovingly at the purple, almost black, grapes soaking up the sun, making them bulge with flavourful juice. I had an urge to jump in the middle of the vines and hug them.
The beauty of the chateaux and the picturesque setting didn’t make the run easier. But the five sips of amazing, superb wine, sausage, homemade nut bars plus oranges and bananas – made it worth the torture of the hills.
Why Continue to Run Marathons, I ask myself?
I have tried to figure out why I keep doing marathons and I think I’ve decided that it pushes me to a high level of physical (and mental) exertion that can’t be matched in everyday life and therefore makes me remember the run vividly – makes me remember moments of my life vividly. It breaks the habitual nature of life. I need that. So I will continue to push myself to run (in this case some walking involved) 42.2 kilometres and experience the feeling of every muscle in my body working to get me up all the hills that I encounter in everyday life.
And now I pour myself a glass of Les Hauts de Trintaudon, Haut-Medoc wine…
Stay Tuned for further marathon reflections…