My First Half Marathon

On 1st July 2012 I took the plunge and signed up for my first half marathon. That meant I had only 10 weeks to prepare for the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival.

I had been running consistently with my run club for a couple of months and squeezed in a few weekend runs with my friend Meg, so I felt confident I was in good shape. Many of my fellow run clubbers were also competing in the event so I felt like I would not be alone out there. The course also included sections that we had already run during the weekly run club so I felt like I had the upper hand.

Two weeks before the half marathon my run club held a 17km super course in preparation for the half marathon, so I used this as an opportunity to stretch my legs and test myself before the big day. Surprisingly I kept an average pace of 5.53 which is quicker than my usual run speed (but not much!). I was very tired after the run and my right knee gave me a bit of pain, so I iced it as soon as I got home.

I visited my physio about the knee pain and he said it was caused by a tight ITB (Iliotibial Band) which stems from having a tight gluteus maximus. So I purchased a foam roller and set out to stretch and strengthen as per the orders of the physio. It started to fee much better a few days later and I still use my roller to this date.

Then came race day. I felt half prepared, but I do tend to sell myself short so maybe I was just expecting the worst and hoping for the best. It was a beautiful day and I headed over the Harbour Bridge to take my spot at the start line. I was feeling very nervous and decided to make a pact to myself that no matter what I would not stop running. I would run the entire race and it did not matter what speed, just that I made it to the finish line without stopping.

As I strolled among the other competitors to the starting area a real buzz of excitement filled the air and everyone started wishing each other the best of luck. I was off and running, and the first part of this run was breathtaking. You start by circling back up and around over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and at that time of the morning it’s a beautiful place to be. Especially when it’s usually full of cars. It’s a moment in time that I will never forget and I struggled to get a picture with my phone as I ran (no stopping remember). You can see the picture at the top of this blog, it’s one of my favorites.

So I ran, and ran, and ran some more. I saw plenty of fellow run clubbers along the way which helped me keep my mind off what i was doing. I got to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair and I felt like I was fast. In fact, I started to get worried that I was going too fast and needed to slow down. I did try to slow down but my body just keep going and I felt like I was unstoppable. So instead of fighting the urge I just went with it and tried to relax.

I kept running, and running and I felt so unimaginably good. I turned the last bend in Pyrmont and made the final dash back to the Sydney Opera House and over the finish line in a surprising 1 hr 54 minutes. This was the fastest pace that I had ever run, even in my shorter training distances I had never done this kind of speed. I was overwhelmed with tears of joy and I fell into the arms of my friend Meg who had done the same race a year earlier. She knew what I was going through and I felt amazing!

My dream goal time had been to get 2 hours, but my realistic goal time has been 2hrs 20min. So you can see why I was so happy and excited, I’d smashed those and actually felt like I could have kept running. I definitely felt the runners high and there was no stopping me now – bring on a marathon in 2013!!

Marathon Planning

About 3 weeks ago I signed up for my first marathon, the M7 marathon which takes place in western Sydney during one of the cooler months of the year in July. The course travels mostly along a bike track that runs along a major highway from Liverpool to Blacktown, and you end up running into a stadium where you are joined by your cheer squad of family and friends. It’s one of the smaller Sydney marathons, but a running buddy of mine competed in this marathon last year so I knew I had somebody to go to for questions, inspiration and tips.

I setup a time with my running buddy and picked his brain with every question i could think of, and asked him to provide any tips that he thought might help. This was a very valuable meeting and i’m thankful to Todd for all his encouragement and assistance with my running, he has been a huge help not only in preparation for this new challenge but from my first days with the Nike run club.

I needed a plan, a training plan. So I set out googling and searching for the best (beginner) marathon plan I could find, as I wanted to know what sort of km’s and the type of training needed to make sure i was well prepared for the run come July. I found a very good Australian running site called Cool Runnings and I stumbled upon a Forum which had hundreds of comments from people who had competed in marathons sharing their advice and tips for beginners. I felt like I had hit the jackpot! It took me a few days to get through all of the comments but it was very valuable, i’ve learnt so much just from that one thread. Someone also suggested a free online training plan by Hal Higdon, who at the time I had never heard of. He’s a running legend and given the fact that he had come recommend from various people on the Cool Runnings site I was confident in trusting the source.

There is was, on paper. The distances looked scary but achievable, so I made a promise to myself that I would stick to the plan so I felt prepared when the day came along and it was time to run my marathon.

Here is the link to the Forum: http://www.coolrunning.com.au/forums/index.php?showtopic=6530

Here’s a link to the Training Plan: http://www.halhigdon.com/training/51138/Marathon-Novice-2-Training-Program

Running Free with Nike Run Club

I love Monday and Wednesday evenings as I get to be a part of the Nike Pitt St Sydney store’s Run Club. A free initiative for people of the city of Sydney.

I started running with them about 18 months ago in the lead up to the 2012 Nike She Runs the Night (13km run through Centennial Park) and then continued running with them leading up to my first half marathon (details on that to come in another post). They are such an inspiring group of run leaders and there was a real sense of community spirit, so it was lots of fun.

These days I am lucky enough to be a run leader and I usually take the beginner runner groups to help people who are in the same situation I was 18 months ago. I really enjoying helping motivate them and taking them to distances they have never run before. Just seeing those smiley faces and how happy they are after the run is enjoyment enough for me. Running can be such a solo sport that it’s a great opportunity to be able to give back and share my love of running with others and let people know that they are not alone.

Last night while running through the city I was having a conversation with a beginner runner and she was asking what sort of km’s I run each week. As an example I said that last Friday I had done 17.7km, Sunday I had done a hilly 3km, Monday 12km with run club and then of course the 7km we were doing that night. She was very impressed with the amount of kilometers that I was covering and asked me about when I had transitioned from ‘beginner’ to ‘runner’. I could not think of a particular moment in time when I felt that I had stopped being a beginner and could call myself a runner, and I think it’s because I feel like there is still so much to learn. So I was stumped for a response and also felt quite shocked that 5km was a ‘walk in the park’ for me these days. When did that happen?

After I got home I realised that the Nike Run Club has played a huge part in transitioning me from a beginner to a runner and for that I am very thankful. If it was not for the dedication of the guys in-store who promote the club, the organisers and the run leaders then I would not be in the position I am today. So if you are a beginner too then get yourself signed up to a run club, they help keep you accountable and on track, plus you get to learn from people who have taken the same journey that you are embarking on.

Thank you Nike Sydney Run Club, I owe you guys big time!

Another great run in such a gorgeous city.

Another great run in such a gorgeous city.

Introduction

Over the past few months my friends have been telling me I should start a blog. So here it is. I don’t pretend to be a good writer, but i’m here to share the journey to my first marathon and beyond.

My name is Hailey, but my friends call me Hails or Napster. I work full time for a large accounting firm in Sydney, and I also run my own part-time mobile personal training business which has been up and running for almost 4 months. I am also a Nike Run Leader with the Pitt St Sydney store 2 nights a week, however I am no running expert as I have only been running again for the past 18 months.

As a kid I did a lot of sport and I did not sit still, i’m sure my mother was relieved when I finally got my license and could drive myself around to training, carnivals and the many team sports I played. At one point I think I was in 7 Netball teams, 4 Volleyball Teams and that was when I was studying my HSC. It was a busy but fun part of my life.

There is a lot of other information that I could write here about my life up untill this point, but the City2Surf is where my running journey first began, so I thought it appropriate to be the main subject of my first post.

In 2007 I entered the City2Surf, one of Australia’s biggest fun runs, if not the biggest. I planned to walk the 14km track with a friend and that’s exactly what I did. It took us 2 hours & 46 minutes and it was so beautiful crossing the finish line next to Bondi Beach under a clear blue sky. I made a promise to myself that I would run it next year.

In the lead up to the 2008 City2Surf I had not done any running. I had however been playing some netball and cycling long distances on weekends. I did not feel prepared and when I was struck by a cold/flu 2 weeks before the race I thought I might have to pull out. But the thought of all the money I had raised to help the Lupus Association of NSW kept me on track and I made it to the start line. I was ‘Back of the Pack’, and for anyone who has run the City2Surf you will have felt my pain. For the first 5km it felt like all I did was duck and weave in and out of people going all different paces and in all different directions, I could not find my rhythm. Eventually people started to drop back and I had to walk up Heartbreak Hill, this seemed to be the spot where people started thinning out. And then I found my stride, I finally got some momentum and slowly ran the second half of the race finishing in 1 hour and 31 minutes. Could I beat this time next year?

For several years I ran sporadically with no set plan and continued to improve my City2Surf time each year, eventually setting a PB of 1 hour 19 minutes in 2012 – a time to hope to beat this year!

Please feel free to ask questions on anything you see posted here and I will happily try to answer them. I hope you enjoy my posts, happy running 🙂

Celebrating another finish on the beautiful Bondi Beach

Celebrating another finish on the beautiful Bondi Beach