Anyway, after some essential coffee (I stuck to my usual pre-race routine - as they say, don't do anything differently on race day. Although I did force myself to wake up at 4:30 to eat a bit sweet carb-filled bread thing, then went back for a few more zzzzz's) I mosied down to check in for part 2 of this challenge. Apparently, we had to do a health check each morning consisting of your blood pressure check and a temperature check. Oops! Luckily, everyone seemed fine on Day 1 as think most people knew nothing about this. Anyway, all was fine and I headed off to the race starting line, to be greeted by hundreds of people dressed up in their traditional dress, soldiers looking stern and unsmiling (as they do), TV reporters and cameras, and my fellow excited runners.
Soon enough, we were through the town and into the beautiful countryside. This leg was so beautiful! This was a much more scenic route than the day before, and the weather was much better too. This route took us down a gently winding mountain road for most of the first half and then we came back up for the second half, with a couple of k's off on a stunning out and back section that was adjacent to a gorgeous stream and lush rice paddies. This beautiful scenery definitely helped to distract us from the pain!
Another pain distraction, the major one, was talking and running with others for the whole marathon! This was great. For about the first 20km or so we had our running team back, of about 4 of us today (sometimes it was 6 though). Then, the two guys from the day before powered on ahead, leaving just me and the guy who would be my running buddy for the rest of the marathon: Angel from Spain. Quite literally. I think his name is so appropriate - I'm sure without him there distracting me, chatting to me and taking short walk breaks through the aid stations with me, that I may not have made it. He said the same thing about me, about helping him getting through it, and whether or not he was just being polite? Who knows, but we made a great team for the next 22km or so, distracting each other from our respective leg pain (which was really quite painful at times).