Marathon Date: May 30, 2009
My Age: 73
My Finish Time: 5:39
My Marathon Rating: Most painful marathon.
Memorable Moment: Finishing in the Stockholm Olympic Stadium.
Lessons Learned: Do not attempt to run a marathon with a serious injury that has not completely healed.
Stockholm Marathon Selection and Registration:
I had 2 choices for the worldwide marathon that I would run in 2009 and they were – the May 30th Stockholm, Sweden marathon or the Amsterdam marathon that would be held on October 16th. I decided on running the Stockholm marathon after reviewing the comments that previous marathoners had put on the web. There will be 18,000+ runners from around the world with a number of runners from the U.S. What is unusual about the Stockholm marathon is that the race starts at 2pm – which means if it is a very hot day we will be in the sun for most of the race. I will be going to the marathon with marathon tours of Boston, Massachusetts so they handled my airfare, hotel, and race registration – my number was 5992.
Stockholm Marathon Training Program:
I began my 18-week 750-mile Stockholm marathon-training program on January 25, 2009. When I started my training I had 2 lingering injuries, Right Quad & Right Achilles heel, that I had for about 3 weeks before I started my training. After my 4th week of training my right Quad had healed but my right Achilles did not go away, and in fact had gotten worse. The pain was most notable during my long runs and would continue to be painful after I had completed the long run. Because of the Achilles injury I decided not to run any races before the Stockholm marathon on May 30th. During my long run of the 13th week of my training program the Achilles was so painful that I had to stop running at mile 18 of my 20-mile long run. By week 16 the Achilles hurt so bad that I had to limit the miles I ran during the week. When I left for Stockholm on May 26th it was very clear to me that I would not have a chance to meet my marathon goal of 4:20 due to the constant pain of my right Achilles.
I made my airfare, hotel reservations through Marathon Tours and Travel in Boston, Massachusetts. I flew via Continental airlines and the flight to Stockholm was 7 hours and 12 minutes from New Jersey. I arrived at my Hotel, the Scandic Park Hotel, on May 26th at 7:35 am – very tired, as I did not sleep on the flight. The hotel was only about 15 minutes walk to Stockholm center where the many lively shops and bars are located. It is also only 15 minutes walk to the marathon start and finish located in the 1912 Olympic Stadium. There also is a very beautiful park only 5 minutes away from the hotel.
Stockholm Marathon Highlights:
The day before the marathon I walked to the 1912 Olympic Stadium to get my Bib # 5992 and my race chip at the marathon Expo. Because of my injured Achilles the short walk to the Expo from my hotel was very painful and I had to stop and stretch when I arrived at the Expo. After I picked up my Bib# and race chip, I walked back at my hotel just before the rain started coming down very hard. I spent most of the afternoon resting and coming up with a new race strategy.
My original plan, before the Achilles injury, was to run a 4:20 marathon with a halfway time of 2:10. But because of the Achilles injury my new plan was to stop after each mile to rest my Achilles. I felt the new strategy would get me a finish time of close to 5 hours – not the 4:20 I had planned on but still a respectable finish time. I was not happy about my new strategy but there was no way that I would be able to run any length of time without stopping to rest the Achilles. I spent the rest of the afternoon resting and in the evening I went down to the hotel restaurant and had my pre-race Pasta dinner. I went to bed about 10pm and woke up race day at 6am – finally got a good nights sleep. I had a light breakfast and went back to my room to rest up for the 2pm start of the marathon.
At 1pm I left the hotel and walked to the 1912 Stadium and after about 15 minutes I finally found my start area. After the start gun finally went off it took me about 8 minutes to go over the start line – the road was very thin and there was wall to wall runners making it difficult to move. Running for a mile and then stopping to rest the Achilles seemed to help ease the pain. At the halfway point [13.1 miles] my time was 2:24 and if I kept up the pace over the last 13.1 miles I would finish in a time of 4:48. Unfortunately by mile 15, stopping every mile to rest the Achilles was not helping, as the pain was getting progressively worse with each mile and to make matters worse the temperature was now in the mid 80’s. When I finally reached mile 21 I was running at a much slower pace than I ran in the first half of the race and I was taking more time to rest the Achilles.
At mile 23 one of the Medical support people walked over to me and told me that he had been watching me for the last 3 miles and he felt that I was in serious trouble and he wanted to take me out of the race, drive me to the finish line to get whatever medical help I needed. I just looked at him and said that I only had 3 miles to go to finish the marathon and if I had to I would “crawl” the last 3 miles to the finish line. It was a very long and “painful” marathon but after 5 hours and 39 minutes of agony in the 80-degree temperature I finally entered the Olympic Stadium and ran around the track and crossed the finish line. It wasn’t pretty but I met my commitment to my donors – I finished.