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The Girlfriend's Guide to Health will be updated every Tuesday.... Stay tuned dear readers and let me rock your world.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Step by Step

Aloha my girlfriends. That, for those of you who are not familiar with the Don Ho phenomenon is hello (and Goodbye) in Hawaiian. As I write this week’s post I am sitting pretty poolside in Honolulu.

Nothing quite does a body good as a little weekend jet-set getaway to the Islands. That is unless you are here to run a marathon. As my cybersisters will recall tropical storm Sandy ripped through my NYC 26.2 mile dreams. There I was perfectly trained for a marathon but apart from my day spent at Bergdorf Goodman, I left New York feeling unfulfilled in a sporting way. If only my American Express could have said the same.

And so my sisters I spent the last month searching for another marathon that would meet my needs. After a few clicks on the interweb, Mahalo to the goddess and there came the perfect weekend for my beloved and I to race for glory at the 40th annual Honolulu marathon.

Off we went in search of sun and running satisfaction from a Friday to a Monday. Yes, my sisters- we should have stayed longer but I am afterall a work-a-holic and the idea of a week on a beach- may appeal to some. For me- a week on a beach just means that I have to spend more time washing the sand out of my hair. Yes, I am aware, I have issues…. Feel free to discuss them amongst yourselves.

But this past Sunday well before dawn, I set out to work on my predicament through the thrill of sport. Allow me if I may to take you through the process….

3:30 am-  after 8 hours of blissful sleep that was preceded by a day I will affectionately call “eat anything I want- I am running a marathon tomorrow”- I woke, washed my face, did my business and promptly realized that nothing says challenge like running a marathon an hour after you begin your menstrual cycle.

One Aleve tablet and a  half litre of water later and I was dressed in a fabulous pair of running tights, a perfect royal blue tank top that really was my colour and my coolest running shades. If you are going to be “out there” for 42.2 km one really must look one’s best, no?

Fast forward to the start line and I placed my earphones firmly in my ears and began to listen to my newly created playlist entitled “HonoluluMarathon2012”. I should say that this playlist was previously called “NYCMarahton2012” but given the circumstances, I felt that a name change was in order. That and I added three new songs by Phillip Phillips and the Plain White T’s.

Twenty minutes later I was raring to go. As the starting gun sounded, fireworks lit up the night sky. It was 5 am Hawaii time and we were going to make history.

My first 3 miles were spent listening to Bob Dylan and looking for a place to pee. I had easily drank a litre of water for fear of dehydrating and had clearly overshot the whole hydration curve.

After a quick pit stop at a Jack-in-the-Box a lovely police officer named Rick let me cut in front of him in men’s line at the washroom and order was restored. Mahalo to officer Rick if he indeed stumbles upon this post.

The ensuing three miles were spent in a false sense of security. I had songs like Alicia Keys, “Superwoman” and Cyndi Lauper’s “Shine” lulling me into a girl power serenity. As the first 6 miles (10km) lay behind me it was indeed still dark in Honolulu but my heart was filled with light.  I was running a marathon and I was feeling great. My bladder was empty but my soul was full.

And then somewhere around mile 9 the sun rose on this great city and well…. My dream? My dream it went to shit. Here’s how it went down….

Mile 9- The sun rises and 2000 Japanese tourists stop to take a photo. This is not an exaggeration. Half of the 33,000 runners in this race are from Japan. 75% of them are faster than me.

Note to self- ever want to test how good you feel about your body? Run a race with 16,000 Japanese runners. No one is bigger than a size 2. When you are a size 8 among them- you are a giant.

Ironically Natasha Beddingfield’s “Weightless” streams through my earphones. Thanks Natasha- I needed that.

Mile 10- The leader number 6 passes us on the return for the “Out and Back” course. He is at mile 25. We all cheer for him as he runs by. The time is 2 hours. I recognize him as Wilson Kipsang the man who won Bronze in London. Yah, he’s a rockstar. I am now the slowest person alive.

I stop to pee. I am pleased that my fluid status suggest I am not going to die of dehydration. I wait in line for about 10 minutes only to find the Porta-potty does not have toilet paper. Little do I realize that this moment is a foreshadow of the next 3 hours. My low point is just beginning.

Mile 11- I know realize that I have not been listening to my body for the last 2.5 hours. I just thought I was feeling great. Turns out I was mislead. My lower back begins to ache. Just below my kidneys. No, it is not my kidneys. I should say I hate pain. I know some woman think it’s a right of passage… the whole child birth thing….

I have never had a child. If I had wanted one- I would have had it surgically removed… with lots of drugs on board. Being in touch with the pain- it’s not my thing. I have enough trouble listening to the voice in my head- let alone the rest of me. My ass hurts too but that is  another story. It dawns on me that Kipsang Has likely showered and changed by now. I smell of urine.

Mile 12- A man dressed in a full on swan costume runs past me. He looks like Bjork at the Oscars. I realize I have no Bjork in my playlist. Was never a fan. Maybe I am not deep enough.  Sinead O’Connor’s “Old Lady” plays in my ears. Perhaps I indeed have depth. I wonder if her head is still shaved?

Mile 13- A lovely young kid (maybe all of 15) hands me a glass of water. She smiles and tells me I am half way there.  I have another 3 hours of hell ahead of me. David Guertta’s “Titanium” begins to play on my marathon mix and I realize that my Ileotibial Bands are slowly turning to concrete.

Miles 14-16 – Brandon Flowers, Coldplay even U2 could not get me out of the 45 minutes of self doubt that ensued. I contemplated taking a cab. I thought of Rosie Ruiz the woman who in 1980 took a Subway to the finish line of the NYC marathon. Could I be Honolulu’s Rosie? Why had I been so hard on the bitch when I had watched the story in a Marathon Documentary?

Mile 17- There are bags of ice at each water station. I am putting fistfuls in my bra at each stop. I proceed to run while pulling ice cubes from my bra to chew on them. I am amazed that chewing ice does not bother my teeth. Normally I can not chew ice. The sound is like nails on a chalk board to me. 17 miles into a marathon I can easily chew ice from my bra without a care in the world.  It is 27 degrees celcius and 75% humidity. There is no chalk board for miles.

Mile 18- The Killers “Flesh and Bone” plays on my mix… My left butt cheek feels like someone has stabbed me with an ice pick. I continue to chew ice from my bra in protest, elated with my new skill.

Mile 19- I hit a new low point as I realize I have 7miles to go. This is 12 more kilometers. I would like a nap and peanut butter sandwich. Instead a woman holding a sign that say “You are Hot” hands me a coffee crisp. I am elated at the kindness of others. A brief flash of vanity comes over me… Do I really look hot? Must remember to eat all ice from my bra before the finish line photos…

Mile 20-“We are Young” by Fun chimes into my ears and I ponder my own mortality. The average age of most marathoners is mid 30’s. I am nearing 42. That and right now I feel like I need a hip replacement and a walker. I briefly mourn my youth and help myself to electrolyte enriched Jelly Beans.

Mile 21- A lady is sitting on her lawn with a Tibetan Spaniel. Her dog is wearing a Hawaiian shirt. She is holding a sign that says, “Go Joe!!!” I want to be Joe for just a minute. Not because of the sign or the encouragement. But because that is one seriously cute dog.  And although I can not condone putting a dog in a Hawaiian shirt under any circumstances, I would still name the dog Flossy.

Mile 22- “The Smile Has left your Eyes” is next on my playlist. No Shit.

Mile 23- I realize that unless I hitch a ride on the back of a motorcycle- I will not be making my targeted finish time. I have 12 minutes of self pity. I realize that rhe beauty of running is that one only competes against oneself. The Pogues play on my playlist. Very appropriate pity music. I should be in a pub in Ireland right now and not baking in Oahu. I suck ice from my bra in silence.

Mile 24- Screw it. I am running a marathon. I have the pain to prove it. Noone will care about my time. Well, my running friends will- but who needs running friends? I prefer to run alone anyway. When I tell non-runners that I ran a marathon they always ask- “How far is that?” not “What was your time?”. Besides… according to some random stranger 5 miles ago- I looked Hot. Fuck it…. Let’s finish this bad boy.

Mile 25- There is a hill. Who the hell put this here? 25 miles down and someone decides this is where the hill should be? I am going to need to speak to someone. Triumph is singing “Magic Power”. I have healthy rage, 1.2 miles to go and 1980’s rock music to cheer me on. Between that and a bra full of ice- I am unstoppable. My left nipple in frozen.

Mile 26- I can see the finish line. I do what I always do at every race when I am close to the line. I take my earphones out and listen to the crowd. I am emotional and I begin to cry. Perhaps it’s that time of the month, perhaps it is that I just ran a marathon. Likely it is because I just ran a marathon at that time of the month.

A woman runs by me dressed like Minnie Mouse. No way is Minnie crossing the line before me. I don’t care if she ran a marathon in costume. Bitch is going down. Ever not a Disney fan- I “put the Hammer down” as they say and speed past her across the finish line.

My heart pounds, my legs have nothing left. I have left it all out on the course and ran quite possibly my worst race yet. But a bad marathon is like pizza baby- even when it’s bad… it’s still pizza.

A marathon is a marathon and even a bad one is one for the books. Everyone gets a medal and unless you are first- there is no prize money. We are all 31,999 of us going home with just a medal and some Robaxacet.

A Study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in January of 2012 shows that running marathons- as attractive as I have made them sound- will indeed not kill you. 

The study showed that 42 people died during marathons and half marathons in the USA between 2000 and 2010. This was out of a total of 10.9 million runners. 59 runners suffered cardiac arrests during this time and 42 of them died as a result. This works out to one death for every 259,000 runners. That is half the death rate from cardiac arrest in the general population. 

Incidentally the death rate among triathletes is one per every 52,620 participants. 

This is good for me to focus on given that I have signed up for a Half Iron Man Triathlon this summer. 

Clearly, my playlist and my time in Hawaii taught me nothing. 

For just like a woman who gives birth forgets the pain the moment she looks into her baby's eyes.....

I spent the afternoon after the race at Prada safe in the knowledge that this marathon thing would not kill me. And suddenly the pain magically vanished as I found the perfect outfit to go with my new medal. 

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