(Para a versão em português clique aqui)
After a month of uncertainties, knee pain, two physiotherapy sessions and only a few short runs to test the knee, it finally came the big day! The third marathon of my fundraising challenge and the first in my hometown.
Joe, a friend from work, and I left the hotel at 6:45 and walked to the beach. On the way, I tried to set up the app that tracks my position in real time for those who would like to follow the run, especially for those who would meet me somewhere along the way. There was no connection though. We ran back to the hotel and I set up the app and posted the link on the blog and on Facebook. The app seemed to be tracking our position on the screen but, as I would discover only later, nothing was being broadcasted because the internet on my mobile was down. I used that pre-paid sim card the whole week and it failed exactly when I needed the most!
Ipanema-Copacabana and back (10 km with Joe)
But let’s get back to the beginning. Posto 10 in Ipanema, just after 7 am and Joe and I started our run towards Copacabana. The day was gorgeous and we followed our plan of running at around 6:30 min per km. Arriving in Copacabana we saw the preparations for the cycling test event for the Olympic Games in Rio. We took photos of the athletes, the support cars with all the bikes on top, and Joe even posed in front of the tens of police motorcycles that were there to escort the cyclists.
We kept going until we completed 5 km and it was time to go back. Back in Ipanema we were forced to leave the main road by the event organisers but we were already a few meters from our starting point: first 10 km completed and it was time to say goodbye to Joe, thank him for the company and head to Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas where I would meet Debinha (or Debbie), my sister.
Loop around Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas (with Debinha and Crass)
I got to the lagoon and didn’t see them. I ran slowly looking around when I heard: “Hey, Wait for me!” I was relieved that she found me as we ran a bit in the anticlockwise direction to meet her husband, Crass, who would also run with us. We changed directions and increased the pace to something around 5:40 per km. We ran at this pace for most of the loop, enjoying the view and taking photos.
Just before the helipoint, I saw someone that looked like a cousin of mine. I yelled his name but the person didn’t even look back. I didn’t bother in the end since we were not supposed to meet for the run. I was really looking for Rafa and Ramon, my wife’s brother and cousin. By the end of the loop I found odd that they were not there and asked Crass to check his mobile. As I mentioned above, the links were correct but the connection was down and no data was being broadcasted from my phone. I don’t know whether the problem was with my phone or the telecom company but that was the only issue that I had during the run.
I left Debinha and Crass after a nice full loop around the lagoon and went through the process that I’m getting used to in these runs: hugs, kisses, thanks, and the “see you at the finish line”. I kept going and passed by the orange tent of “Filhos do Vento”, a running group in Rio, when I saw the guy that looked like my cousin again. I approached and yelled: “Bibigo!” It was him in the end! We hugged, jumped on the spot, and swore quite loudly in joy and excitement. I quickly explained what that run was about, we ran together back to my sister, took more photos and I followed my way, this time alone.
From Lagoa to Horto (with Rafa and Ramon)
Just after the Monte Líbano club, I was surprised by Rafa and Ramon. They had finally found me! Despite the lack of connection, they knew more or less the time I would be passing at the lagoon and waited until I passed by them. We ran together until the Piraquê club where I would turn left in the direction of Horto. I invited them to join me for a little longer since they missed a big chunk of the Lagoa segment. The three of us followed the road partially closed for the cycling event towards the mountains. At the beginning of the ascent, it was again time to say goodbye, thank them and ask someone to take our picture. Ramon had traveled from another city the day before just to join me. I really appreciate their support and the persistence they showed despite the communication problems. Thanks guys!
Me, the forest and the climb
From there I began the tough and solitary journey to the Christ statue. I love the forest and I felt energized, happy and at home. In any moment I thought about fatigue and was simply enjoying the sounds of the birds and the monkeys. I even interpreted their noise as yells of support and encouragement. At some points these sounds were replaced by the company of people that were there to watch the cycling event: the athletes would come from a different direction and go down following the road that I was climbing. I should thank the volunteers, tourists and spectators that helped me taking photos and supporting me after listening to the ten seconds explanation about my run.
I hadn’t felt the knee until the downhills just after km 28. I sped up a bit to avoid braking and landing on my heels, which would put more stress on the knee. Was just a discomfort and the descent was actually welcome. I was already over 29km and a break in the climbing effort made me feel even better. I got to the bifurcation where to the left one goes to São Conrado (where the cyclists were coming from) and to the right one goes to Corcovado. I was tempted to wait for the athletes but heard from the volunteers that they were at least still 20 min. away from that point. I continued towards my goal and it was time to climb again. For the first time I saw the north side of the city with Maracanã and Rio-Niterói bridge at the back. Again, some nice people along the road took pictures for me. Thanks!
I passed by the bifurcation between Estrada Redentor and Estrada do Sumaré and entered in well known territory. When I lived with my parents in Laranjeiras, I climbed a few times up to that road. I knew I was close. The view is sensational and I took some nice photos. I had my last drop of water at km 38 but was already feeling at home and didn’t worried about it. Just after that I passed by a fountain, put my head under it to refresh, and had my last sip of water before the end.
These kilometers were fast as there were no hills and I was impregnated with that extra energy that you get when you know the goal is really close. I took many shots of the Christ as I approached the target.
I got to the base with 41 km on my legs and knew that I had to climb even further. I asked for information and was directed to the road that leads to the monument. These were the most cruel 2 km of the whole run. I could see the statue and started to feel the heat and the thirsty. I could only think of a cold bottle of water. After more than 43 km I finally got there. I bought my ticket, climbed the stairs and walked without much problem around the tourists. They were many but were all trying to avoid that weird guy dripping in sweat. Those who were too distracted to avoid a collision would just make a face of disgust and keep going. I couldn’t care less. In fact, if I had the chance I would have hugged and kissed them all, so happy I was with my feat.
I was found by Debbie, Crass and Joe that had arrived there before. Later I learned that Rafa and Ramon also went there but arrived a bit late and missed me. At the statue a tourist came to me to congratulate for my run. He had seen me going up that last hill. He was even more impressed when Joe told him that those were the last 2 km of a marathon. I finally drank the cold water I was dreaming about, took some photos, left some more tourists disgusted with my sweat and had a can of guaraná. We didn’t stay up there for long as we had a table booked for lunch. The three would go back to the base in a van but my ticket didn’t included the transportation up and down those last 2 km. So, I decided to go down running. Two km downhill at that stage would be nothing. Not only did I ran down, but I also got a course record for that segment on Strava. Well, I wasn’t expecting that!
We went back to my sister’s place, I took a shower and went to the restaurant. I ate a lot and spent the rest of the afternoon trying to digest the “mineira style” food. Recovering from lunch was harder than recovering from the run! 😉
Everything was perfect, the course, the people running with me, the lunch to celebrate the race and to say goodbye to family and friends as I would be catching a plane back to Australia the next day. The only thing that didn’t go as I expected was the fundraising. I’m still behind the goal that I had set for the third marathon. Anyway, there is still time to donate. I have 9 more marathons ahead! 🙂 .
Now i is time to recover and plan the September one!