Oof. It’s done! Budapest Marathon training is done. The season is over. And I for one am relieved. In case you’re not aware, I got injured and consequently didn’t run Budapest Marathon, my goal race of the season. However, I did run the next distance down, which was the 30k. Here’s my recap!
As always I had three goals when it came to this race. However, given that I only really decided to do the 30k the day before (oops), my goals were a little different than normal. Stolen directly from my training journal:
– Plan A: Finish! Genuinely, finish!
– Plan B: Don’t do permanent damage
– Plan C: See the sights of Budapest
There was also a last minute panic in our flat when we realised the cutoff times were quite aggressive. Getting swept was a genuine concern. So along with prepping for the potential pain and discomfort of the race, I had to accept the reality that my sorry ass might just get swept!
The crack-of-dawn flight the day before had left me pretty tired, but I managed to get a decent night’s sleep despite the inevitable pre-race nerves. As usual, I got up earlier than everyone else for some alone time to make coffee and meditate on the challenge ahead. Along with my coffee, I had my usual oats, fruit and peanut butter. We had to get three metros to the race start, but thankfully City Runner Tabs was far more organized than me, and I barely had to think about it. We met up with the rest of the City Athletics crew, stretched, warmed up, had nervous banter, and ate whole packets of Haribo. (Okay that was just me).
The Race Itself
The race started off without a hitch- we started at the 12km point of the marathon course and were gradually fed into the stream of runners. The first mile was fine, although I set off in too fast a corral, meaning I was getting passed left, right and centre- not good for the self-esteem.
From around Mile 2 I was in a negative place, questioning why on earth I trained for marathons, why I ran, why I felt I had something to prove. Things had been pretty rough anxiety and food-wise in the previous few days, meaning my thoughts kinda circled around that. I think ultimately I hadn’t had time to prepare mentally for the race.
My knee started to hurt around Mile 6, and by Mile 7 I was fully prepared to DNF. I made peace with the fact that I wouldn’t finish, and even worked on how I would frame that mentally to avoid the negative self-talk I often get myself into.
I walked parts of the race after that point, completely taking the pressure off myself, and had decided by Mile 10 to just get to the half marathon point before gracefully bowing out. A half marathon- that I could handle. However on the hairpin sections of the course, I saw several other City Runners, which boosted my morale, distracted my brain and eased the pain in my legs. Additionally, there were two very slight inclines which helped me focus on my form and made the pain subside. I’ve always been a stronger runner on short hills.
After the 12 mile point, I found my mantra. “Pain is the brain”. It’s something I first discovered in an interview with Nikki Kimball in her documentary Finding Traction– it just popped into my head. In the interview Nikki talks about how pain is just a set of signals being sent by the brain- whilst you shouldn’t always ignore them, sometimes it’s just about possible to, especially in the context of a race. This mantra essentially realigned my mind and really helped- instead of constantly trying to make adjustments to my form and cadence, I just accepted it and managed to transcend it slightly. Sometimes you just have to get through a race and deal with the fallout later. Plus endorphins are great for that shit.
Don’t get me wrong; there were points when the pain was too much to bear, and I had to stop and stretch briefly, but ultimately having finished Manchester earlier on in the year, I knew it was possible. By the time I reached 14 miles, I knew I would finish, it was just a matter of when. I don’t remember much of those final few miles, except that I talked to several other runners, which was a welcome distraction.
There was one final hairpin round Budapest’s main park, and that was a huge struggle mentally- but it did mean that yet again I saw my City Athletics crew and we cheered each other on. When my watch hit 18 miles, I was 100% done. Over it. Still having around a kilometre to go, I just buckled down and got the work done, and before I knew it I was at the finish funnel, with the whole City Athletics crew cheering me home.
I finished with a time of 2:59:36 – not too shabby for a beaten up pile of butt!
- Mile 1: 8:468:56
- Mile 2: 8:52
- Mile 3: 8:52
- Mile 4: 8:56
- Mile 5: 9.09
- Mile 6: 9.11
- Mile 7: 10:27
- Mile 8: 10:04
- Mile 9: 9:11
- Mile 10: 9:41
- Mile 11: 10:06
- Mile 12: 9:23
- Mile 13: 9:47
- Mile 14: 9:15
- Mile 15: 10:43
- Mile 16: 9:39
- Mile 17: 9:25
- Mile 18: 10:46
- Final .7: 9:01
I finished in a lot of pain, with several old injuries and niggles popping up. Having said all that, it feels weirdly satisfying to know that I pushed my body to its absolute limit on race day. Whilst 30k won’t always be my limit, it was that day. And knowing that you’ve given it everything you’ve got, both physically and mentally, means far fewer regrets and what ifs.
Post race I wandered around the park, got my space blanket, and then collapsed on the grass for a bit of post-race stretching and met my fellow City Runners at bag drop. I hit the baths in Budapest for most of the afternoon, did way too little stretching, and stayed out dancing till the early hours. Possibly one of the worst post-race strategies, but you live and learn!
So that’s it! The Goal Race That Wasn’t has been and gone, and I can take the pressure off for a while. Hot chocolate, Netflix and yummy, yummy yoga are what’s in store for the next week or so!
Have you raced recently? How was it?
Lots of love,