June 2012. In the worst conditions in the history of the Stockholm Marathon I made my marathon debut. 4 degrees, driving rain and piercing winds made for the worst run of my life. After 4 hours and 41 minutes I crossed the finish line, soaked, hypothermic and delirious. I was the second Australian female home though. The fourth didn’t finish. There weren’t any others.
After making our way to the stadium this morning where everyone was sheltering from the storm in the metro station, Jarrod and I entered the elite changerooms which seemed to be based on an honesty system. The bib numbers were allocated based on experience and ability and you were placed in start groups A-F accordingly. Jarrod had number 35 and was in group A. I had number 22,981. You can guess which group I was in. Even I realised I wasn’t going to fool anyone so I hung out in the corridor (warm) and used the facilities (clean) and scored a free poncho to boot. Jarrod and I said goodbye to meet again at the finish. We had long lost Matthew back in the Metro somewhere.
Approaching the start line I threw off my poncho dramatically, determined to get on with it. After 2 kms I thought maybe this isn’t so bad, I can feel my fingers warming up and I feel pretty good. By 8km I was numb from head to toe and I knew it was going to be a very long day.
From then until the halfway mark is a blur. At 21.1km they were cranking out ABBA and offering bowls of gherkins. Those crazy Swedes. If there’s one thing you can rely on, it’s easy listening music at a run.
By 37km it resembled a scene from a George A Romero film. People limping along, leaning sideways, lolling open mouths and glazed eyes, reaching with outstretched arms towards the drink station attendants. With my left calf cramping badly I’m pretty sure I looked the same.
Counting down the remaining kms and with my ipod now at a deafening volume I finally saw the entrance to the Olympic Stadium. Entering the stadium I found a burst of energy and weaved in and out of people to reach the finish line. Jarrod was waiting in the stands and took me back into the elite rooms to put some dry clothes on. I limped to receive my finishers shirt then started the long trek to the station where to my shame I had to use the lift because my legs have stopped to function in a downwards motion.
Finally home with warm dry clothes and a tummy full of goodie bag, I’m contemplating my first marathon. Was it really that bad? Yes it was. Would I do it again? Not on your life. Ask me next week though.
Event profile: Shelley Miller