I have run many marathons and half marathons. It was my thing for awhile. After kids, a full marathon seemed like too much work. Lots of training, lots of recovery. I shifted my sites to half marathons. Less distance equals less recovery time and much less training time.
There is a boy at church who needed some motivation. He was told he had to slim down some because of a medical condition he has. I told him we would do a half marathon together to help him get in shape. We signed up for the Cascais half. At home when I signed up for a race, I did so online. I paid my money and I got an email confirmation. It was fast and easy and usually costs anywhere from $50-$100, depending on the course and location.
In Portugal, you sign up on line, then you have to go to the bank and transfer money from your account to the account of the race. Bizarre. The ATM machines can handle the task, but since my bank card is Portuguese, it won’t operate in English, so I had to get help. The whopping cost of the run €14 or about $17 USD. Pretty sweet price.
Now, I would not say I properly trained for this run. I ran, but never for that long. I did run loads of hills, but I never got a chance to cover any serious distance. It has been a busy few months. I was anxious, but I knew the run wasn’t about me, it was about helping out a friend. This made it all more manageable.
We went to the expo to pick up our race numbers. I expected what I would expect at home. Vendors selling everything to do with running. What I got was nothing. You just line up and show them your receipt and get your number, your time chip and the race shirt. Alright then. Easy and not at all commercial.
The run was on Sunday morning. It started at a very civil 10 am. My priest was at church during that time, presumably praying for his wife.
There were a few porta potties near the starting line of the race. We lined up to use them. When it was my turn, I entered and the entire thing started to move. I thought I was going to fall over or worse have the toilet fall over and cover me in its lovely contents. I exited alive, but it was touch and go. I made a bold announcement for everyone to avoid that toilet because I nearly died….the runners started laughing. Apparently, all the toilets are like that because of the uneven tile. Not embarrassing…at all. Ugh.
The race began like any other except we had a moment of silence before the gun went off in memory of a woman who died. It was literally completely silent. No one was chatting with their friend, no one was adjusting their shoes…they just stood there. When it was over the race began. So quietly. It was impressive.
The course had some major hills. It was tricky, but it was also stunning. We ran beside the ocean for over 10 miles.
There were very few water stations, but when they had one they gave out full water bottles. It was bizarre. I didn’t want to waste, but I couldn’t drink a full bottle and I didn’t want to carry it with me while I ran. There ended up being miles littered with water bottles (I went back the next day to show the kids where I ran and I couldn’t see evidence of even one water bottle. Excellent clean up crew.).
There were also very few women running. It was largely just men and unlike the other races I have done where you see all types of fitness levels and all types of people, here it was a pretty fit looking group. The course had a 3 hour time limit.
We finished with 15 minutes to spare. My friend had never run farther than 8 kilometers before, so he pushed himself and he triumphed. I admit he did want to stop a few times, but I held his hand and I ran with him. It was a great feeling to forget about myself and my exhaustion and to focus on him. I wanted him to accomplish his goal and in doing so, I got to experience a different kind of joy. I was happy to finish, but I was much happier to finish hand in hand with a friend who needed some encouragement.