How should I start this post? Probably by saying that this Saturday (05.05.2012) was crazy|incredible|beautiful|emotional|hard|… and I can go on because there are so many words describing this day.
It was my second marathon after MPC. It was my second encounter with the virus that got me infected last year. I had my eyes on EcoMarathon since the beginning of this year, but although I wanted to participate I’ve kept postponing the registration because I was not sure if my knees were ready for this challenge. After seeing that the registration was soon too be closed, because of the big number of participants, I finally registered and hoped for the best.
Some details about this competition:
After Postavaru Night I’ve got Rose infected also and she registered for the cross, this being her longest mountain run yet. At Half Marathon Brasov I saw that my knees didn’t bother me at all so I was eager to compete at my second marathon.
Living in Brasov I have the opportunity to run on Tampa. I really love this small mountain… its so easily accessible and it offers so many kinds of trails for running. I have begin training for the EcoMarathon since March after the snow finally was at a decent level :). Although I run at least one time per week on Tampa I knew that I still lack the training to feel really comfortable before the marathon. Its not that I think about timing. I’m not at that level and I don’t really care too much (at least for the moment) about the competition with the others. For me the marathon its a battle with my self and it will probably remain like this. By comfortable I mean being able to run the whole event and enjoy it. Although I was ecstatic after finishing MPC I had one painful experience over all (during the race and after 🙂 ).
So, my main goal for this event was to enjoy it and not feel veeery sore afterwards. Saturday morning me and Rose were quite anxious … I was thinking of my past experience and for Rose was her first major event. Both of us didn’t know what to expect. But the atmosphere was great … we’ve met a lot of friends, had some friendly chats and finally around 9 AM we were ready for the start.
This time I had some basic knowledge about the marathon so I’ve prepared. I’ve started by analyzing the route profile and the hydration points. This was important because it can help in making a strategy for the race. By strategy I mean to know when to accelerate and when to slow down. Also for me the hydration points were important because when reaching them I had each time half of Sponser Energy Gel. I was planning to run with my camel back to have water between the check-points and to use the water from the hydration points to take the gel (you need at least one cup of water ~100-200 ml for not messing up your stomach).
Coming back to the race… at 9 Am we’ve started. Rose had one goal for this race – to finish in less than 2h. It was quite ambitious since she has started the training 2 weeks ago. I had my fingers crossed for her. I’ve positioned myself in the first rows because I knew that after 3 km there is a small bridge which will become a bottleneck once most of the competitors will reach it. Rose found out this the hard way – she lost 5 minutes there waiting to cross.
I’ve started quite fast and I was beginning to see in front of me the people who usually come in the first places… I was not feeling tired at all but I knew that I’m not at that level and by keeping this rhythm from the beginning probably will have some nasty side effects later in the race. So I’ve slowed down but not too much such that I was able to cross the problematic bridge without waiting. Now the race starts … now I have to climb the first 400 m … now I’m in the woods, on the trails. Now it begins too be fun… Now I was beginning to enjoy the event.
The marathon is composed from 3 laps each of them having ~ 14 km – combined the route has the shape of the clover leave. On the first lap I’ve chosen to run without the sticks since the climb its not too hard and on descents I prefer to run without them. For the rest of the race my mother was waiting for me at the finish/start line to give them to me. I was targeting to keep a steady rhythm on the climbs and on descents to accelerate … the plan worked perfectly and after 1h:23 min I finished the first lap.
I was feeling great, no pains … just enjoying the run in this beautiful location. I was imagining Moeciu de Sus as a balcony towards Piatra Craiului, Leaota and Bucegi. After each climb a great view towards these mountains was giving me more strength for the rest of the race. Everything was just perfect, but I was thinking about Rose. Will she finished in 2h? I hope so … Slowly I’ve started the second climb of lap 2. This time I was beginning to feel tired … I was using a lot the sticks to push uphill, but I was feeling exhausted. After reaching Cheile Gradistei Fundata I had 1 ampoule of magnesium and started the third Sponser gel. Looking back I don’t think it was such a good idea. I don’t know if it was due to the gel or something else … bottom line is that I felt quite bad on the last km’s of lap 2 and I’ve finished in about 2h.
After finishing lap 2 I’ve met Rose at the start/finish line … she was delighted … she finished in 1h:57 while loosing 5 minutes at the bridge 🙂 Congrats!!! I was very happy for her but I’ve came back quite fast in the marathon mood since I had now the last lap of the marathon. While I was reading about this event early this year I knew it was the hardest. I had 1 Sponser Activator – which tastes like shit 🙂 – and started lap3. I knew I had to use all my strengths and all my energy still left in my body.
The first climb is quite long and hard but strangely I was not feeling bad anymore. I could even chat with Razvan and Paul during the climb and slowly we’ve reached the first hydration point … here I saw competitors with cramps. I was feeling great though and kept on going. I was not looking back anymore, I didn’t know if Razvan or Paul is still behind … I was very focused on the trail and I’ve begin passing a few competitors. I run the whole portion till I’ve reached the base of Gutanu climb. This final climb is the longest, reaching the highest point of the marathon ~ 1500 m. I had a few refreshments but the gels were somehow messing up my stomach … anyway was bearable … I didn’t throw up but I was not tolerating anymore isotonic drinks, just water.
I kept a fast and good rhythm till I’ve reached Gutanu. There I’ve packed my sticks and started the descent. I knew I had 6 km left to the finish line and I was just a bit over 4h:30 min. This was the first time when I’ve realized that I’ve done a pretty good race … I could finish it in around 5 h. This is awesome ! And I’ve accelerated … I’ve run like crazy through those woods but also the tiredness was beginning to slowly install in my body. This portion of the race was the hardest for me. I wanted to finish in around 5h but my body was not. I’ve kept encouraging … I was talking with my self loudly. I guess I was looking kinda strange there … who is this guy talking too? Is he crazy ? :). I was talking to my self … those were the longest 6 km of my life. I knew that while I will approach the finish line I will hear the loud speakers… I was running and running and I could not hear the fucking loud speakers. How long do I have to run??? … eventually I heard the noise coming from finish line… what a relief ! Another 2-300 m of descent and I was on asphalt again with 300 m to go. I heard somebody coming fast behind and I’ve accelerated … I’ve sprinted the last hundred meters and passed the finish line in 5h: 5 min. What a race !!! … and what a feeling !!!
Now the story in images :
The event was beautifully organized by Centrul de Ecologie Montana. Thank you guys for creating this event and thanks to all the volunteers that made everything possible.