Sunday, May 3, 2015

Chisinau International Marathon

It seems that it's been quite some time since I've done any updating here, which isn't that notable except that it means I've missed sharing about a holiday or event or two that I'm just going to skip, unfortunately.

I started this post with the paragraph above, wrote a ton, and then realized it was just too much. There was too much of me in it; no matter how many times I changed shirts my heart was always on my sleeve. Which is fine, sometimes. But I went downstairs to eat my dinner (potatoes) and decided to scratch all that and start over. Maybe those words will appear in a future post but for now, I'm going to switch my focus. 

Instead, I will talk about the first Chisinau International Marathon! There was a marathon held in Chisinau in 1986, but this is the first time since then and they really pushed for an international presence. Which seemed to turn out amazing, because their marketing and branding was excellent and I'm pretty sure people came from all over. They said there were 1,000 runners but 10,000 people there at the start. Here's a link to a story about it with tons of pictures (don't look for me in them, though!). 

I knew for quite some time that this was happening. I knew I had friends planning to run. And I knew for sure that I would NOT be participating. But, as we know, the best laid plans.. 

It turns out that all I needed was the right motivation. The right person to say, "You have to run too!" You know, those people who make you want to be a slightly better version of yourself? Sometimes we get to meet them and become friends with them. And suddenly I had a momentary lapse in judgment where I registered for the 10K. 

Let me be clear on the fact that I don't run. I've got that Couch to 5K app, but I'm not very good at using it. In my defense, the weather really determines my ability to go outside and do ridiculous things like jog near the cows. (I mean, what if they bite me? Sometimes their moos seem very aggressive.) So I didn't do much training for this thing. 

Eventually the time came for us to actually run. We were all prepared with our protein gels and our short shorts, but I don't know that we were mentally prepared. For one, I'd never even been to one of these things to watch. So I only vaguely knew what was going to be happening. 

There were SO. MANY. PEOPLE. Obviously, the 10,000 that I mentioned earlier. The PCVs were in the wrong spot but we were ushered over to the lineup (props to the marathon volunteers) and made it to where we needed to be before the thing started. When it did, everyone just started moving and we were all running through the starting line and down the streets of Chisinau. There were people all down the street on the sidewalks advertising and cheering and watching, and I think the start filled us with so much adrenaline that, at least for me, carried me a lot farther than I thought I would be able to go before I had to switch to walking. 

I beat death, AKA the pacer for the race, so there's an accomplishment, right?

We ran/walked through Chisinau, sometimes with other PCVs, sometimes alone. When you got back up towards the start/finish line, you really had about 2km left, so that was misleading, but luckily there were PCV cheerleaders on both sides for much needed encouragement. 

Really before I knew it I was passing the last group of cheerleaders (they should all be professionals, by the way - they were really excellent) and crossing the finish line, and a sweet Moldovan girl was putting a medal around my neck - I had finished! It was kind of exhilarating and I kind of wanted to cry, I was so proud of myself. But I didn't, shockingly enough. I'm not saying it was the most fun I've ever had, but I'm also not saying I wouldn't do another one in the future. 

Because now I know I can.

Photo by Beni Coombs

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