Caren Ware's Blog

March 2, 2014

Kilimanjaro Marathon

Filed under: Uncategorized — Caren Ware @ 10:31 am

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DSC02652I keep saying I am not a marathon runner, because I am not. I like jumping and hurdling. But for someone that is not a marathon runner, I sure have done my share. It is because people equate running with marathoning.
I ran the Los Angeles Marathon months after my son was born. Someone came to my recreation center sporting their marathon medal and I felt that draw to set a goal that you would have to build up to. Something primal about going the distance. But though I thought I was training, my longest run was only 13 miles. A lot happens past those first thirteen. But in my first marathon, I was drawn along by the crowd cheering and by inaugural experience. I smiggly made it past mile twenty and prided myself there were only six to go. They say a marathon is the first twenty and than the next six. I made it to mile twenty three before everything shut down. Everything. My body said, no go and I was left with only backward and sideway muscles and that is how I hobbled in, running backward for a while, side hopping, and bending over at the waist. Since than, I have run the New York Marathon, in the Midnight Sun in Alaska, through the cobblestone streets of Paris, France, in the Tahitian Islands, St Croix, in the Caribbean, across the length of Catalina Island, in the Outback of Australia with aborigines. Also, I had to bandit run Tokyo Marathon after flying there and they did not have my registration. I forged the Drake Passage last year to ran on Antarctica. And now I am in Africa. The purpose of all these? To experience them, yes, but to also formulate the personality of a travel series called FINDING FIT and bring awareness able the citizen plight of our Hispanic boys.
Not one of these marathons were, say, EASY. Some were better trained that others. Some had more motivation than others. This Kilimanjaro Marathon I knew would be hard on me.I was not able to train in the layers I wanted. And I my motivation was lost, lost in Jackson, Wyoming not producing employment, and the heartache of a valued relationship being put to sidelines. I did not know what to do with either, so I did a Carenism. I accepted an offer to come to Africa and tell you what it is like to be in a Kathy Loper excursion. What I have to tell your foremost, is it is ALL taken care of. The connections. The food. The tips. And she is there to show you where to go and how to get to the event. And the entire group is there to cheer you on to the very, very last one.
For me, coming to a marathon with a group that was about the group and not the marathon was different. They were here to experience the place, and run a race for the heck of it, albeit how far back in the pack they were.
For the full stadium and cheers of ‘go’ I never got really comfortable. I could hold a decent pace, at first. The route went a half marathon out of town on a paved road and back. The street were lined with Tanzanians, most dressed in their Sunday best and totting Bibles ,on their way to church. I saw a lot of American slogan tshirts in the crowd that didn’t seem to be going to church. I wonder if they are shipped here and handed out as second hand clothing. The slogans seemed silly here.
The kids wanted high fives. The entire town wanted high fives. Mambo vibe. The kids would run along side the slow runners. And from the get go, we started hearing ,” Pulley, pulley.” Meaning going slowly or go slow. That is because the Kenyans and Africana were there to win prize money and they were far from pulley, pulley. Because of the out and back portion of the first half of the marathon, one could watch the entire lead pack. It was very visible that they all have a consistent back kick that made them look like they were kicking their butts when they ran…seemingly effortlessly at that pace.
After the first thirteen miles, the course turned to hills, about six straight miles of them. It was hot and humid, though a thankful far off cloud cover and a few puffs of wind. Mt Kilimanjaro was visible all day way out of proportion to the otherwise hill country. The water stations were 2.4 miles apart. Most just had only water, but a few offered cokes in cups. My first nutrition bar I tried to eat flipped out of my hand and into the dirt. I had clif shot margarita chews. And I had gu. The sugar was needed, but making my stomach ache.
I had stashed electrolyte drink and a bar at the 13.1 mark. By the time I got there I had been fighting a side ache and no longer could stomach a bar. I gave it to a kid who seemed hungry. His eyes shot astonishment that something yummy out of the blue would land in his hand. He flashed me a lot like I was a magician.
Up we went, into the coffee and banana plantations. It was more shady, and a portion of the course went onto a dirt road and by a stream. I was starting to cramp by mile eighteen. I kept trying to run loose and telling my body to be kind. It didn’t want to. A couple running at my speed offered a salt pill. I drank the cokes and water and hoped my way through. In the last 5 miles, a water station volunteer asked for a picture. I stopped. That was a mistake. Everything Charlie horsed up and I was one the pavement trying to grab my toes to pull the knot back out of the calves. This routine went on the last five miles. Long, long last five miles that tacked an extra hour to my time. As my daughter would say, “this is NOT PRETTY!”
We filmed. I interacted with kids. I fumbled with the little nano music my son had recorded for me. And I cramped up. It took almost 5 hours to do this marathon. Coming from a PR of 3:48 this was a long day. And it was humbling. The group I have traveling with is very much about just enjoying the course and being a back of the packer. One in the group passed me and finished well ahead of me.
It does not matter the fitness appearance of the body. It matters what it is prepared to do. Though having a body that did not care about abs or arms, her body was prepared to run and run and run. I literally hobbled in, like my very first marathon in Los Angeles. Hoping sidewalks, running a few paces backwards, and than just grunting forward. It was painful and painstaking.

We all get that medal that has the picture of the mountain on it just for the triumph of finishing that many blasted miles. And I had to say, the experience. I could feel that I was dangerously close to heat exhaustion. My brain was burning on the inside and I was feeling disconnected for a long time after I finished. The stadium was packed with the entire town of Moshi. A few boys on bikes with carts were selling ice cream. It was the best purchase EVER. I saw a little gal longing watching as I liked my drumstick. I went back and bought her one. Instantly, her two brothers appeared. I bought them cones. And instantly, over one hundred kids in the stadium of kids were at my cart eyes asking for an ice cream. I bought forty of them and had the cart boy decide who got them. I will forego any souvenirs or massages.
The Kathy Loper group was in this event together. We all stayed and cheered and were there until the very last of us made it back. And they toasted and cheered and drank their Kilimanjaro Premier Lagar beer. “Mambo vibe” Great day. No one was concerned that it was ‘pulley, pulley’.
(pictures to be added. Need better internet connection)

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