Geneva Marathon 2009

Geneva Marathon 2009

Time: 4:56.21
Weight: 100 kilo (not sure how I gained a kilo since marseille)

Let’s just say, I have had better days……

Two weeks ago, on the train ride back from the Marseille marathon, Sophie asked me to go back to Dubai with she and the girls and to not do the Geneva marathon – she reminded me that I was still very out of shape and doing another marathon so close to each other could potentially hurt my body.

But I explained to her if I want to achieve my goal of 6 marathons in 2009 not including the IM in Dec., I have no choice but to do Geneva because from June, I will be full on into my training and then I will have to rest before the IM in Dec, thus I will not be able to run many marathons after May – and besides, my training is getting better and better so Geneva will not be a problem.

I thought about Sophie and this conversation for just about the entire 4:53 minutes today.

The flight from Nice to Geneva is an easy 45 minutes. I flew Saturday morning, a 43 euro easyjet flight, one way, cost less than 100 euro round trip.

As soon as I arrived in Geneva, I went straight to the marathon registration expo. Unlike in Paris, where I stood in line for 60-90 minutes or so, I did not wait at all in Geneva and I thought to myself this is a major perk of doing smaller marathons (I didnt wait in Marseille either) there is not many people, thus you do not waste anytime waiting in long lines.

The weather was perfect on saturday, so I walked around the small city and went to a cafe facing lake Geneva and read for a couple of hours.

For the readers who have never visited Geneva – its a very small exclusive city with a big lake sort of in the middle of it. Being someone who likes cigars, I have always enjoyed my visits to Geneva – I think its the only place in Europe where you can still smoke a cigar in cafes and there are several nice, cigar lounges.

The weather report said it would rain all day on sunday …. however, today the weather in Geneva was perfect, no wind, no rain, and it was not hot at all – ideal for running a marathon.

I slept ok – my hotel was 20 minute walk to where the race began. The race started at 8am so I walked down there at 7:00 and from 7:20 until when the race began, I sat right next to lake enjoying the weather and looking forward to the race.

As I walked from the hotel to where the race began, I thought to myself that today was the first time my legs have not been sore since I started my training – thus, I was very optimistic that today I would break 4 hrs.

I did not realize until mid-way through the race, but there were two races today — the full marathon and then 2:30 hrs after the full marathon started, there was a semi marathon. I was surprised at how few people there were at the start of the marathon – surely, less than 1,000. But as I discovered, 2:30 hours later a few thousand people ran the semi marathon (I will come to this later in the blog)

Today I wore a pair of special very tight running pants which they claim helps circulate your blood more efficiently – thus your legs do not get sore as quickly. I bought them at the Paris marathon expo, wore them during the Paris marathon and I sometimes wear them when I train in the morning because they keep my legs warm.

I ran the Marseille marathon in my cheap Nike running pants – and my legs felt good that entire race.

Today, immediately as the race began, my right foot and right calf were numb. I assume it is from the tight running pants. Surely, the pants work for some people, but for some reason they make my feet and calves numb – esp. my right foot and calf.

Within 10 minutes of the race, my right foot and calf were completely numb. (that can’t be a good sign)

I seriously considered stopping and taking them off and running in my running underwear (underwear which looks like a speedo) … but I figured it would take too long to get them off so I kept pluggin away.

I ran with the 3:45 pace group for what seemed like a long time, however, in real terms I think I kept up with them for about 2 kilometers.

Mentally, today I was a f…. pussy because I kept thinking about the pain. And in my head I kept saying to myself “I should have listened to Sophie…”

But the best story from today….

There were not as many drink stations today as there are at most marathons – so when the first drink station popped up around the 10 km mark, I enthusiastically, grabbed two glasses of what I thought was water and poured them on my face and over my head …..

“F…….me!!!!!!” It wasnt water, its was Power bar drink (like gatorade, but even sweeter) so my face, head, neck and chest were covered in a sugary, syurp like liquid …. without exaggeration, my face became a human “fly paper” because there were many nats flying around the lake and many many many stuck to me face.
My bald head, face, neck and chest were ridiculously sticky. It was horrrrrrrible.

Seriously, if I had not posted a blog last night about running this marathon – most probably, I would have stopped at the half way point because the race just didnt go the way I had hoped – it was just a bad day.

I knew I was in trouble when the 4 hour pace runner past me around the 13th km ….

The race was a gorgeous flat 2 laps around Geneva – when I registered and discovered it was a 2 lap race, I was concerned that the race would drag on because we would be doing the same course 2 times — however, my legs were so sore that I didnt even notice the course was the same. I remembered thinking to myself many times on the 2nd lap, “I don’t remember running by this”

At the half point, I “think” I was at 2:02 minutes and my legs seemed to be doing better. I was pleasantly surprised at my pace. (because there was no clock at the half way point, I had to ask a fellow runner what my split was so I am not certain of my exact time other than it was 2 hours 2 minutes and something)

… when I reached the 25th Km, suddenly a bunch of runners came flying past me like wild horse running.. then a few minutes later several hundred more came running/flying past me. This was when I realized there was a semi marathon going on at the same time.

The memory of today is being passed by old (large) women, middle age women, young women and girls …. so many females passed me that I couldn’t believe it …. a few of the women must have been in their 70s. And many many many of the women would say to me in english or french something like: “come of lets go … hang in there… etc.” as they passed me.

With around 4km left, a young, very attractive french woman runs up next to me and asked me in french if I was ok and if I wanted her to run with me until the end of the race. As charming and pretty as she was, the last thing I wanted to do was chit chat in french the last 4 km with someone I didn’t know.

Most of these women were doing the semi marathon – but I am not exaggerating when I say 1,000+ women passed me today.

My stomach, back and overall body felt good. It was just my legs, esp my right leg which hurt very badly. I considered dropping out several times, but I thought about the blog and Sophie and how humilated I would be if I didnt finish; how humiliated I would be to have to call Sophie and tell her … “pride last longer than pain”….except for today???

So I plugged away….

“CHRISTOPHER” (my first name) was printed at the top of my number bib very big and bold….

Towards the end of the race, when I was just barely running/moving, super slowly and in obvious pain, the crowds watching started chanting “lets go christoper!!!” This happened several times — and once so many people were chanting “christopher!!!” that you would have thought “Christopher” was someone important ….but it really helped me.

Finally, I finished the race in 4:53.20 seconds….. I think…….

I say “i think” (again) because the clock they had at the finish displayed the time for the semi marathon. I had to ask a fellow runner the time. For some reason the race organizer did not have the full marathon time displayed (they did not have a clock at the 10Km or half way point either) – No clocks along the race.

My 5 year old daughter secretly took my running watch last week, and she took it back to Dubai with her, so I didnt have a watch today.

I really like the swiss, they are great, straight forward people. However, today there was not enough drink stations and they should have had clocks at the 10km, and half way point …. also, it makes no sense why they only had one clock at the end of the race displaying the semi marathon time.

As soon as I finished, I went straight to my hotel because my flight home was at 15:00. I took a nice hot shower and felt a little bit better. After I dried off, I (out of habit) I put on my anti-persperant which is an alcohol base .. this is when I realized my arms pits were very raw and chaffed ….. I can not remember ever having a burining sensation as painful – I wanted to vommit, it burned so badly.
Also, I stupidly forgot to wear something over my nipples, thus my nipples are bloody and extremely raw/sore.
At least I made the flight on time.

One good thing about today – as bad as I felt, I still broke 5 hours …

I ran nearly 30 minutes faster two weeks ago in Marsaille– in the pouring ran, direct strong winds and lots of big hills. In Geneva the conditions were perfect – no wind, no rain and no hills, but my time was slow.

Mentally, I was a total pussy today …. I focused/thought about my pain, and surely this focus is what made my race so difficult. I need to be much stronger mentally in the future.

My friends at told me not to race with an ipod (according to them, serious runners do not wear ipods when they race) although I wore my ipod on the walk down to the race, I took it off before the start and put it in my pocket …. but within an hour of the race, I took it out and put it on (sorry guys) – but i needed all the help I could get today. It lasted about 3 hours before the battery died. But to be completely honest with everyone — I do not consider what I am doing as “racing…” all I do is try to survive and finish.

Today was my 3rd marathon in 5 weeks – I will run one more marathon this month and then I will not run another marathon again for 3 months. I need to focus on my bike training and these marathons take me a few days to recover from, thus I think it is hurting my IM training.

Although I am far from IM finisher shape – I am getting there, but I need to focus more on my diet and be much stronger mentally. I am going to lose 5 kilo in two weeks – before my next marathon.

I look forward to the day when I can run a marathon under 3:30 and not hurt so much and ideally, change what I do from “surviving” to “racing.”

At least no blind runners past me today ….


2 thoughts on “Geneva Marathon 2009

  1. What strikes me most about this experience is the irony. Imagine a marathon in Switzerland and they don’t have enough clocks and then only give you the time for the half…..

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