Apr 27 2012
Hi everyone! WARNING! This post will be a bit lengthy. Have to make up for all the days we’ve been missing in action on this portal. I recently got back from running a full marathon in Madrid, Spain. This marathon was special in that it was a competitor one open to elite athletes who take their running seriously, also it was the first inaugural Madrid Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon. Although the Kenyans won the competition, it was awesome being part of this event.
Madrid Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon was attended by some 19,000 participants from all over the world, including Team In Training (TNT) members representing the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society from all around the USA. TNT helped raise funds and raise awareness to what the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is doing for people who suffer from blood cancers. The night prior to marathon day, TNT sponsored a dinner for all the participants and we loaded up on carbohydrates in the good company of our teammates. We also watched video in memory of those who fought a good fight with blood cancers. My heart sunk at the number of children afflicted with Leukemia who did not make it, many who were little bouncy and inquisitive toddlers. Although my race is completed, there is a chance for you to still help with this cause if you are willing. I still have a couple of weeks to still raise the total funds. Click here if you are willing to contribute to my fundraising cause for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Madrid is a historical city whose majestic buildings speak of its history and every intricate art embedded in these tell the story of great visionaries, architects and artists of old. I carried a mystic feeling all the while I was there (except for the last 5 kilometer of my run, which proved to be nerve racking). If you love awesome architecture and art, you will find yourself in a great place visiting Madrid. The city is replete with art. It gives you the feel of being in a movie or something, waiting for a handsome knight in shinning armour to come sweep you off your tired feet. That’s exactly how I felt after touring the city with my TNT friends and teammates, and after my 26.2 mile run this past Sunday. Tired!
One of my Colombian friends asked me if I’d heard about the Spanish King, Juan Carlos accident while in Madrid. According to her, it happened just recently, and the City of Madrid was in an uproar because they found out- after the fact of the King’s hip misfortune -that he went on an opulent Safari trip in Botswana during a time when their country is struggling financially and with a high unemployment rate; a whopping 23%!
The Spanish King’s elephant safari accident sounded strange to me, but the high un-employment rate was not news. My TNT friends and I were aware of this before we mounted the subway this past Saturday to visit the Royal Botanical Garden in Madrid (Real Jardin Botanico de Madrid), next door to the Prado Museum of Art, which we visited on Friday. Saturday we were robbed by three local girls in the subway who heavily distracted us at first by pushing themselves inside the crowded train where we stood just by a door. One girl was discovered while going for a second loot after she had already taken one of our friend’s iPhone out her purse. Another Teammate came up with some cash missing out of her purse, and the third friend (sister of the first person robbed) found both compartments of her purse opened but nothing stolen because the third girl did not have enough time to rob her due to the noise her sister made at discovering the first girl’s hands in her purse. We tried to detain the girl that took the iPhone, but there were no officials in sight when the subway doors opened and all three women escaped.
The robbery almost put a drag on a beautiful Saturday, but since we were a positive group, and my two friends who were robbed were very thankful we’d only lost material things, our Spirits were boosted and we continue on our way. At arriving at the Royal Botanical Garden we were infused with the positive energy of the atmosphere. This helped scrape off any lingering negative thoughts we had of the robbery off our beings.
King Juan Carlos, my Colombian friend told me, just recently had a serious hip fracture and hip replacement surgery because he got “kicked in the butt” by an elephant while hunting it during a Safari in Bostwana. “NO WAY!” I responded. The story was funny, but sounded unbelievable (and it was!). The only uproar I knew of was that which I heard the night before we ran the Rock-N-Roll Marathon. The city of Madrid was celebrating its Real Madrid Futbol (soccer) team win over Barcelona. There was a tremendous street noise by Real Madrid fans and the locals Saturday night all through Sunday morning. This is why I was dragging a few serious bags under my eyes during the marathon. As a result of the noise I got about 3 hours of sleep that night. I felt mad enough to start a new war (One Honduran against the Spaniards), but I quickly found my balance through a prayer and got my excitement for running my marathon back that Sunday morning.
My TNT teammates and I were the first participants on the scene (literally and figuratively) at about 7:00 AM. Initially it was about 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and we tried to make the best of our time by huddling close to each other. There were a few issues when we arrived at the starting point. We only found one porter potie opened from the whole batch and no one carried a knife or a clipper to clip the plastic lock off the doors. We were told we had to wait for the officials to open the porter potties, and that could be any time. Madrid folks are not early-risers it seems. This was the first Marathon I ran that started at 9:00 AM!
Another issue we had was locating the place to check in our belonging prior to the race. Some of us had to drop them in the hands of the spouses and friends of our teammates. These guys were very supportive and our greatest cheerleaders, photographers, and advisers. Steve, Tim, and Trip, KUDOS to you! You guys rocked even before the Rock ‘n’ Roll bands had a chance to warm up. Great job guys!
While the crowd was gathering we witnessed a Parachute (Paracaidas) running group drop from the sky. This took my mind off the cold for a few minutes, and the gathering crowd also helped spread a little body heat for warmth. Shortly after 9:00 A.M. our group started running. I’d already primed my Nike Plus on my iPhone and started running to the tune of Fito Blanko’s reggaeton song, Pegadito Suavecito. The volume was low enough so I could hear the cheers at the sidelines from the crowd. I was taking in the scene. First, I had no clue as to the conversion of the Kilometers to Miles, and this purposeful cluelessness helped me to be oblivious of the long miles ahead. The course was a challenging one; some points of the course were about 2000 feet above sea level. We were told the end would be a challenging steady incline; a bit insane.
About two or three kilometers up the road I witnesses a good number of men (about 10-15 of ‘em) running to the bushes (like they were in distress) at the side of the road, where they stood interestingly stiff with their hands down and in front of their pelvic area. It was kind of annoying because they were criss-crossing through the street and one man almost knocked me down trying to get to the bushes to my left. When I steadied my mind to study the phenomenon, it occurred to me these guys were urinating! Just a couple of feet off the running course! With police standing by! Outrageous, I though, and kept my eyes focused on the road (yes I did!) so not to trip over someone and fall flat on my face.
Another disturbance I experienced at about Mile 15 or something was a biological urge that I felt. I kept telling myself it was a fluke; the mind plays tricks on you when you’ve decided to run the miles. So up until the next mile I kept telling myself, “It’s all in the mind, It’s all in the mind.” I kept going until I passed another kilometer and found the urge was not in my mind, but really elsewhere. Luckily, I found a couple of porter potties behind a band stage with a short line and I was able to rock ‘n’ roll my way to get some rest. I know. NOT SEXY! This, of course, after popping a few charming words at the fans of Real Madrid who kept me from my sleep and made me forget to use the restroom earlier in the morning.
This Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon course had very few rest-stops along the way. This is why our TNT coaches kept warning us, “It’s a competition!” My running nurse friend and TNT teammate Kathy (Nurse Practitioner, Midwife) originally planned to take her precious time running the marathon to “take pictures and take in the scene,” but she was warned she’d be scraped off the course by the girl Emily the “grim reaper” if she wasn’t pulling a good time, and they would escort her to the finish line in a bus! Of course she quickly changed her plans.
We were well hydrated along the course, but by the time I made it to the one Gu Energy Gel station I noticed about Kilometer 33 or so, the volunteers were all gone and what was left were empty packets and boxes on the ground. It then dawned on me that I need to train much harder for the next marathon. Feeling desperate, I dug in my little pouch and found a Zone bar, took a bite, and spit it out. It tasted like wood! I pelted it in the barrel of a truck parked on the sideline on my right as I was running up another hill. A bystander grinned her face almost in disgust at me when I did this, but I kept moving ahead.
At this point I had stopped five times to stretch my aching and heavily fatigued leg. Each time I stopped to stretch I also had the guys in roller blades spray everything with Bio-Freeze, except the stuff my Mama proudly gave me, after learning from Kathy that it helps quite a bit . My right heel was burning and troubling me from early on in the race, so it was a great relief to feel the cold spray on it.
I had much to be thankful for. For one, I did not incur any injuries. Also, it was good seeing Steve, Kathy’s husband, along the course encouraging us to keep going. I believe I saw him 4 or 5 times but the last glance I got of him at the side of the course -just during the beginning of the steady inclining portion- a bit of marathon delirium had already set in. He mentioned that I said to him, with a desperate look while passing by, “I want to stop!” but I kept going, albeit slowly up the hill.
OYE! The course was not an easy run in the park. Kathy and I both took turns playing catch-up with each other after I made my bathroom stop. I am not gonna tell a big fat lie. I wish I could have stopped, I tried to stop but I didn’t, I am a stubborn girl too. This has been both a vice and a blessing. Another blessing was the awesome TNT members from all over the USA who encouraged each other especially when we saw one another growing weary in agony. The Madrid crowd were also great cheering the runners “ANIMO!” “ANIMO!” A word of encouragement which means “Cheer up!” After the race was over a few runners said, “they called us animals,” which was funny to those who understood and spoke the Spanish language.
At Kilometer 39 or so, with my aching feet and legs, breathing slow and low, and with thready pulse, Kathy caught up with me and we made a unanimous decision to drag each other across the finish line. We did. Two running nurses. Still running as we started–in solidarity–for all those who were cured of cancer, the ones still fighting the battle, and for the family of the people who gave it their best even until their very end! ANIMO! ANIMO!