Manage a challenging task from start to finish.
Before start: queue. 30000 runners in one street, walking slowly towards the starting line. I am impatient and jump in just behind the 1.50-ballons, even though I know my pace will be a bit slower.
Km 1: Everyone passes me. I am the slowest in the field, or so it seems, and runners pass me on both sides. My feet are heavy, my legs even more so, my body weants me to call it quits already. This is terrible. I focus on the asphalt. I can’t see the spectators, and barely hear them, the other runners are just a huge mass, I focus only on my own running, my own rhythm. I can’t go on, you must go on, I’ll go on.
Km 2: ditto.
Km 3: ditto.
Km 4: It’s getting worse. I realise I haven’t seen the buildings around the course at all, I have no idea where I am. I just run, slowly, laboring on.
I thought hard about quitting at this stage, just stop somewhere to get it over with. The tempo has been too high for me, even though I was slower than runners around me, I can’t continue all the way, I will be too exhausted.
But the 12 kilometres mark is right next to our house, and my wife and kids will be there, and if I call it quits now, I still have to walk all the way back home. Might just as well run there. Go on.
A runner comments on my bare feet. One child, two, three children do the same: look, dad, he hasn’t go any shoes! Another runner calls me psycho, smiles and gives me thumbs up. I notice I am looking up: I see the spectators and buildings around the course. I am finding my rhythm.
Km 12: My wife. My sons, two of them with a Norwegian flag. The third one sleeping in his pram. I try to give them a high five, but I’m too fast, and the youngest one didn’t even notice that I touched his shoulder.
My knee hurts, but I can’t stop now. I’m over halfway.
Km 15-20: My fastest 5 kilometres. I pass runners. I pass other runners! There are lots of them, though, I have to weave my way — and ever so often, I jump from one side of the road to the other to find the smoothest asphalt. But I’m doing fine.
Km 21: The longest kilometre I have ever run. I’m suddenly exhausted. But it’s OK, I’m almost done. My feet are OK, my knee, my legs, everything is working the way it should, more or less, I will get to the finish line.
Finish: Just before the finish, I think about the man whose bib number I have. He who couldn’t run because he had to donate a kidney to his son. I get tears in my eyes.
Oh, come on, you’re always so emotional when you’re tired. Just run across that line and you’re done.
There. See? No need to cry.
Runners everywhere. It’s like a concert or a football match. We walk after each other, like lemmings perhaps, to get our water and an apple (apple? who can stomach an apple after having run for two hours?) and a medal and a T-shirt.
Done. I did it. I feel good. I walk back home for 30 minutes, barefoot. Two old women stop me hundred meters from my front door and ask me about my feet: yes, I did run the entire thing without shoes. Amazing, they say, and I feel even better.
It was challenging. Especially the start. But I did it. My official time: 2.00.31. My Endomondo time: 1.58. 28. I’ll go with Endomondo. (I didn’t run in a straight line, you see, so I ran farther than 21.1 km, so… But it doesn’t matter.)
I think I need some sleep.