Hercules Marathon 2012 – Baile Herculane

Posted: May 29, 2012 in Marathons, Trail Running

What a week-end !!! Again I’m thrilled and still have the marathon feeling in me. We left this Friday (25 of May) from Brasov thinking to participate at the Hercules Half Marathon. For Rose it was a slight increase in mileage from EcoMarathon  cross and for me it was the reasonable way of finishing a month in which I’ve already run a marathon on 5 th of May. But while I was driving thoughts were crossing through my mind… Why not participate to the Marathon? I feel pretty good… why not?… hmmm maybe its not good to push for another one in such a short period … maybe my knees are not up to the challenge… no, I think I can do it, nothing is hurting me, I feel like before the EcoMarathon. Let’s go for it !!! Why not after all? 😀 … life is short 😀

So I was going to participate to an event that I knew almost nothing about. I’ve only consulted the half marathon profile. I’ve remembered though that it was a bit longer than an usual marathon: 45 km. But I didn’t know anything else. I didn’t  know how many climbs/descents it has … I didn’t know where are the refreshments points … I had only 2 gels with me and one ampoule of Magnesium.

We’ve reached Herculane late in the evening ~ 23:oo,  we’ve picked our starting kits and hurried back to the apartment to get some rest. The forecast was not too promising for this week-end and we were almost certain that we will run with rain pouring on us. But surprise … in the morning the rain stopped. This is good. I don’t mind running while raining … but I don’t like to wait at the start line and get wet. After the start it can rain … I don’t care.

At the starting line it was a nice atmosphere … the competitors were making pictures, chatting, laughing and warming up for the event. We were warned that the route might change since in Saua Ciumerna it was windy, foggy and only 5 degrees C. I was thinking: “Where is this place? Is it far away?” I had no clue what the organizers were talking about :). Anyway at 9:00 we’ve started. Rose wanted to finish under 3h and I … well I just wanted to finish. I didn’t had any expectations from this event… I didn’t even know in what I was getting myself dragged into. I will find out later…

The first portion is on asphalt ~2,5 km. I’ve started not too fast, at my normal breathing level while running.  After 10 minutes we’ve reached the first climb … I didn’t know how long it was, but to be honest I didn’t really care. In this marathon I want to enjoy this beautiful area and these mountains. It was my first time here … why care how long is the climb? So I didn’t push it … I’ve climbed as fast as my comfort zone was allowing me. In the first few meters my upper leg muscle was a bit sore … I don’t know why. I was remembering that I’ve experienced this pain when finishing EcoMarathon. So only 3 weeks was not enough for me to fully recover. But a muscle pain is not really a problem. In my case it reaches a certain bearable peak and it stays there. A joint pain is something to worry about. Anyway this pain was like an effort threshold … when going too fast was slowing me down :). I didn’t care anyway since I knew it was not something to stop me from finishing. After finishing this first climb … surprise ! The route was fuuuull of mud and water. Yupiii! For me it was very nice … I really enjoy running through mud and water. I have some kind of thrill. To be more exact. When I was a little boy when I was seeing a pool of water or mud I was running into it … and jump… you know, like a kid. And than my mother was mad at me :). Noooo, don’t go there, you’ll get yourself wet !!! But that was all the fun … getting wet and muddy. Well I remember that sensation and this is how I was feeling on the route … like when I was a small kid … only this time my mother was not there to spoil my fun 😀 … I think 60-70% of the route was muddy. EXCELENT !!!

I was so much enjoying this run that I didn’t bother to change my direction when approaching a mud/water pound. I was crashing into it … and the water and mud was splashing sideways … just great. Anyway, I was enjoying this conditions but not all the participants were like me … so I’ve passed quite a few. I was going quite fast since in this way I was throwing sideways more mud and water 😀

This time I’ve run with my new pair of Asics Trail Attack 7. I’ve read here (http://hoinarii.blogspot.com/2011/05/ecomarathon-2011.html) that they are quite good so I’ve ordered a pair since at EcoMarathon my Salomon Speedcross 2  almost killed a toe nail again … and this time it was cut properly. I like the Speedcross but I thing they are too aggressive with the nails when running downhill. I’ve tested the Asics last week on Piatra Mare and I was thrilled … I was ecstatic … wowww, the downhill running its really a pleasure in the Trail Attack 7. The cushioning its just great and your weight its not stopping in your toes anymore. And this is great because in this way I could go down reaaaly fast. I think that if I would have had these shoes with me at EcoMarathon I could have finished under 5h … but anyway that’s not the point. These shoes are just great for trail running…. especially when running downhill.

Slowly I’ve reached km 18 in exactly 2h. I was running quite good and I was feeling great. No pains to worry about … maybe just my right ankle which got a little twisted on Piatra Mare … but again, bearable. I’ve run most of this marathon alone … I had time for myself, a lot of time. But what to do with it? I was so relaxed, so thrilled when crashing into the pools of mud that my mind was literally UNPLUGGED. I was thinking of NOTHING. Its hard to explain… I was reading last week a good book – Self-portrait as a runner long haul writer by Haruki Murakami – and I was having the same thoughts as he was describing there. Basically NOTHING … I was unplugged from my daily problems, worries … Although I was running and my body was consuming energy my mind was relaxing. To make another comparison. I was having quite the same sensation while driving in a comfortable car on a beautiful mountain road.  I was not thinking to much about how steep the road is because my car was doing all the hard work … Quite the same I was feeling at this marathon. I was in cruise mode, passenger in my own body. The running was so natural that I was not bothering anymore … I was like on auto-pilot. Its like when you learn something very well … like riding a bike, driving a car, etc. My body was doing the running and I was enjoying the ride and the sights. It was GREAT ! I was not experiencing any problem, any pain … I was looking how the km’s were passing away. This is my greatest achievement so far … enjoying the run and not thinking how to trick your body to continue when something is hurting.

This nice feeling I had it until km 35 :D. I mean come on … its a marathon not a jog in front of my house :D. The problem … well I had only 2 gels with me. Eventually I was about to finish my resources and it happen at km 35.  My legs became heavier and my rhythm decreased. At the last check point with refreshments I think I’ve eat at least 3 oranges and 1-2 bananas. I was soooo hungry… hard to describe. I didn’t have any food with me and I was literally seeing in front of me a big bowl of pasta. I was so hungry that I had even begin to smell the pasta :).  I was passed by a group of runners … they had one steady rhythm, not too fast from my own but I didn’t have any energy to stay with them. I was completely drained. I think it would have been nice to measure my wight after the race :D.

So from my cruise mode till km35 I’ve switched to damage mode for the last km. I was dragging myself step by step. Now I was feeling the marathon in a different way :).

When stating the race I thought that 3 extra km will not make too much difference … well they do if you are drained.  While approaching the finish line I so somebody in my back coming quite fast … I really hate this behavior. I mean come on … you had 45 km to pass in front of me and you want to do it not in last few meters … does it really make a difference? We are not competing for the podium.  So I’ve switched to sport mode and accelerate. I don’t know from where I had that last drop of energy, probably because I was disturbed from my running and got pissed off, but I really pushed the throttle and finish the marathon sprinting.

This time I didn’t had that thrill when finishing MPC… I was feeling sorry that the cruise mode lasted only 35 km. Next time I will be more careful to have enough energy to keep it for the whole event. That’s really a good goal for me and something to train for.

At this event my watch run out of battery just after km 18. That was really a bless … In this way I didn’t have to think about timing and I think that it contributed to enter in the cruise mode. So next time probably I will run without a watch.

The story in images:

 

The event was very well organized and we are looking forward to come here again. The area is so nice that we might not wait for next May to come. On Sunday we’ve been to the sulfurous pool in Herculane … it smells like shit (literally) but its a nice experience :D.

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