Yesterday, my husband took part in the Vienna marathon. He ran his first marathon ten years ago. He trained religiously. The day before the event, he carb loaded and rested. It was the same with his second and third marathons. But eight marathons and one small sleep demon later, he signs himself up for these things only to find he can’t quite find the hours in the day to fit all the training in. The spirit is willing but the flesh is so very tired.
And so my husband set off at 7am yesterday morning. His preparation the day before was an apartment full of children at Noah’s birthday party. Noah was also up for hours in the night. He has a sixth sense for these things: any time you really, really, really need him to sleep, there is absolutely no chance he will oblige. (Noah: Ofsted? Five lessons plans by tomorrow? I think I’ll wake up eleven times tonight…)
Optimistically, I told my husband that Noah and I would be along the course cheering him on.
I spent half an hour on the internet trying to decipher a map of the route and decided when and where I would meet him. I also downloaded an app on my phone which promised to tell me where my husband was on the course and what time he was expected at every 5km point. Unfortunately, after 15km, it informed me that my runner may have dropped out. Not if I know my husband.
I left home in plenty of time with Noah, his scooter and his Buzz Lightyear rucksack stuffed with snacks and his toy dragon. Five minutes later at the tram stop, I waved my google translate app over a sign which told me the tram would terminate at a different stop because of the marathon. Did I know where this stop was in the labyrinth of Viennese roads? No. Did I have time to get Noah, scooter, rucksack and dragon to the U-bahn? No. Still optimistic, we boarded the tram and let it take us to our destiny. Our destiny was a random abandoned road that I had never been down.
The tram reversed away. The other five people on board dispersed. Noah and I rounded a corner and there to my relief was the running course and a scattering of runners. I whipped the app out. Although it wouldn’t tell me where my husband was, it was more than willing to tell me where I was – at the start of the course. My husband would have passed by here about two hours ago. Marvellous.
But all was not lost. The app also showed me that the course looped around and three roads over was nearer the end of the course. I had one small problem. Or rather, I had one very big problem in a small package: Noah. Noah had had enough. As I tried to manoeuvre him across the road, he started up a constant winge: he was cold, he was tired, his legs ached, he was puffed, his head hurt, his tummy hurt, he wanted to go home. I could more easily have got a mule on marijuana across those three roads than Noah. When we are in this kind of situation, his favourite battle tactic is the scooter sit. The scooter sit, very simply, is when he crouches on the scooter and refuses to move. He doesn’t even necessarily need the scooter for a scooter sit: in its absence, he will crouch on the ground.
When you imagine the Vienna marathon, don’t think it is anything like the London marathon. The roads are closed with orange tape rather than metal barricades. The crowd, if there is one, is only one person deep. When we finally crossed over to the later part of the course, Noah had perked up, looking out for his daddy. With sinking heart, I saw the four hour pace maker trudge past. My husband would have sailed past this point at least fifteen minutes ago.
I still had a shred of optimism in me. I decided we would go to the finish line. We still had an hour. Vienna is a small city. We could make it. But Noah was still cold, he was still tired, his legs still ached, he was still puffed, his head still hurt, his tummy still hurt, he still wanted to go home. I attached the rope that I use to pull him along on his scooter and started to hurry to the station half way up the road. He fell off…Then he sat back on the scooter.
I didn’t actually give up all hope until Noah spotted the Wiener Riesenrad (Viennese Giant Ferris Wheel) in the near distance. His wine changed to: “I want to go on the big wheel. I want to go on the big wheel. I want to go on the big wheel.”
We went on the big wheel. It cost nearly 15 euros. Noah laid on the floor for the whole fifteen minutes of the ride and refused to get up.
My husband staggered to the finish line. What did he say kept him going? The thought of my Noah and me waiting to cheer him on as he passed. Husband I am sorry. I tried.
We also lost Noah’s dragon. If you see it hanging around Vienna, please let me know.
My Noah, I am no match for you.