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Istanbul marathon

My love and hate relationship to marathons

rain 13 °C

Two days ago I ran my 4th marathon and visited my 40th country. The pain in my legs is still unbearable. I look really funny while walking and I'm utterly slow, and if I can skip walking in stairs I'll do it. I'm trying to convince myself that "Pain is temporary, Pride is forever" on repeat.

MARATHON - 42,195km - 26,2 miles

My brief marathon history

My first marathon experience was Stockholm Marathon in 2003. I was 18 and had no idea if I could complete it or not. It is quite far to run 42km after all. I was very tired (duh?) but managed to sprint in the end when I saw Stockholm Stadion. Back in the days Stockholm Marathon wasn't a big race and there wasn't loads of people supporting us. And at the Västerbron, a long bridge, there was a umpa-umpa orchestra in lederhosen which was the worst experience during the race. It was quite tough to see that the winners had run 2 times 21km when me and my dad only had completed one in the same time. They are quick those Africans! My first marathon experience got me into loving to run races. The picture below is from my first race ever, Göteborgsvarvet in 2003 with my dad.


In 2004 my dad and I went to Berlin to run a very flat and nice Marathon. It was very nice and I got my best time so far, and only time less than 5 hours. I was also running during the entire race, and when I thought I was about to fail my all-run race at 36km a German man told me that I looked very fresh. I was staring at him and wondered if something was wrong with his eyes. But it helped, and I got the last push I needed to complete the marathon in 4:56h.


The year after, in November 2005 my dad and I went to run the amazing New York City Marathon! This was a really tough one for me, I didn't have the right training for it, but the running experience was amazing! And my mum and brother was located at the right spot at 30km when I needed them the most! The supporters in New York are absolutely fantastic! I felt I was flying even though I was exhausted. Loved it, but the time was really, really bad, but you're always a winner when you complete a marathon. After New York marathon I said: NEVER AGAIN! And I kept that promise until now.


2011. The summer I was working in the Scottish Highlands. The nature was all around me and I needed a goal to train for when I went running around Loch Oich, been stopped by a throng of sheep and having waterpauses from a waterfall at the Great Glen Way. It was an amazing summer in Invergarry but when I finished my work I went on a holiday tour and was drinking lots of alcohol for two weeks, and then I got really sick for the last two weeks before the race. To not run at all for a month before a marathon is not a good idea. I also managed to get accompanied by a man I didn't know very well to Istanbul Marathon. It was Martin's 1st Marathon, and my 4th.


Istanbul Marathon 20111
We are all different when it comes to prepare for a race. This windy, rainy and cold Sunday morning on the bridge on the Asian side of Istanbul I was freezing with Martin. He was in his mind preparing for the race while I was jumping up and down cheering and pushing ourselves to do well. He later said that he wanted to punch me for being so happy while he was trying to make up a plan for his race. For me the echo of my colleague Sarah's voice saying: "PMA, Clara! That's how we do it! Positive Mental Attitude!" and that's how I prepared myself, being happy and thinking that it wouldn't be so bad after all. But it was. I hate the start, even if I'm cheering my memory is telling me: "Not again you crazy bitch! You will get punished for this!"

At 9AM on the Sunday morning the 16th of October 2011 we ran, Martin, I and a few thousand more runners. Some ran 4km, some 8km, the most ran 15km and then us morons ran the full marathon of 42195 meters through Istanbul. I ran the marathon for Arsenal FC dressed in my beautiful Arsenal away shirt and Arsenal helped me already at the third bridge when I started to be tired and this amazing English guy who had been running more than 100 marathons pushed me on my back screaming: "Come on Arsenal! Come on Arsenal" and we ran together and talked about Premier league for a couple of minutes. He helped me later on as well. I don't know your name, but I will never forget you.

Here are my times during the race. I was obviously very fast the first 5km, 29 minutes is faster than I usually run! That was a bad sign, because I was running too fast in the beginning so I got tired very quickly. I know this! I have been running before! But still, such a n00b!

I met Martin two times during the race and he was doing very well! It cheered me up every time I saw him and knew that we would make it! At 10km I got a pain in my legs. Way too early but I just put up short goals. OK, at the second lamp post I start running again, it's allright my body, you're doing well, you can walk in this hill, but when it's going down you'd better move your feet faster again. It helped, as always! My brain always win!

I made three mistakes:

1. I drank alcohol for two weeks and got very, very sick
2. I had no proper breakfast on the race day
3. I ran too fast in the beginning

But I also learned from this:
1. I can still complete a marathon without training for a month prior the race.
2. I can still complete a marathon without food and energy in my stomach
3. I can still complete a marathon even if I run too fast in the beginning

3 things I hate about running a marathon

  • That I feel guilty if I go out drinking beers with my friends instead of training for the race
  • To stand at the start area and think: "Holy cow, this will be painful, and I have to freeze my ass off and think about how stupid idea this is for two hours before I can even start and get over with it"
  • When I get bored after running half of it and know that I have to run another 21 km, being even more bored and also be in huge pain. I hate being bored. And in pain, but mostly bored. And little bit to be in pain. But yeah bored sucks.. Ehh, you know what I mean.

3 things I love about running a marathon

  • The people you meet in the end of the races, that you never will meet again but you are all in the same huge pain and you are pushing each other through the last part. And in some races also the supporters that are cheering on you.
  • To see the finish line, get the medal and when the pride is getting over you. Makes me cry almost every time.
  • Marathons make me travel! I love travelling! And it's actually a good way to see a new city!

This race I want to thank the English guy I wrote about above, Christer (70 years old from Sweden who had run 176 marathons), , a Japanese girl who gave me hope when she told me that there was 1 hour left before the race closed and I felt that hell yeah, we can do this, an American man from Washington who was very helpful and inspired me, a Turkish guy who ran with a shoulderbag and gave me an apple when I needed it, a South African man who I ran the last two kilometres with, Martin my buddy who made it in a brilliant time for his first marathon and Marek, a polish guy who inspired me a lot during our last 5km. Because I met those amazing people, who I most likely will never meet again, I actually had a great time during the last part of the race. The first five km and the last five was the best. In between was just a big pain! But that's what a marathon is, you struggle together with a bunch of random people and you personalize the race to make it yours. I love the competition! I know the fact that it is not sure that you will complete it and I love the pride when you reach the finish line!

I was one of the last to reach the finish line before they closed but I felt like the biggest winner of the race!


Istanbul marathon was cold, windy, rainy and the roads were quite boring partly, but the beautiful sights and the amazing people made it to one of the best experiences in my life.

I never say never again.

Posted by aggro 03:58 Archived in Turkey Tagged mosque blue istanbul sofia marathon sultanahmet hagia 2011

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