After the Marathon

Today marks the third day since my marathon and I must say I am feeling much better than I expected. My muscles feel tight but not sore, so I have been stretching every morning and night and using my foam roller. I didn’t get any blisters, I didn’t lose any toenails and during the race I only had partial chaffing near my underarms and it’s gone now. How lucky am I…!!!

Although Monday morning I woke up to find my left foot was slightly bruised and swollen on one side. I remember it feeling sore during the race, but not painful. I was just after halfway and it felt like I had a bruise on the bottom of my foot, on the outer bone that runs the length of the foot. It hurt a little but it wasn’t painful so I chose to ignore it.

Luckily I had Monday off work, so I took myself to the doctor and got an x-ray just to be sure. Then I spent most of the day with it elevated and iced. I haven’t heard back from the doctor so I’m taking that as the all clear. He did say that if it wasn’t any better within a week I would need a CT scan but I’m staying positive as the swelling and bruising has already gone down.

Tonight I’m heading to Run Club but I will not be running. I really just want to see all my buddies who came and supported me on Sunday so we can catch up properly. It feels like I only briefly saw them on Sunday and I was such a scatter brain with emotion.

Other than that I’m taking it very easy and won’t run again until the foot is all better, well….. I have the City2Surf in a week and a half, but I can always walk that if my foot is not 100%. I need to let my body recover so i’ll get in some pool sessions and a massage this weekend too.

Thanks to everyone for the kind messages after my race on Sunday. I’m feeling very proud and so lucky to have such wonderfully supportive family and friends.

Happy Running! 😀

The Marathon

For this post I’m going to give you every boring detail about my race, the good the bad and the ugly. So don’t say I didn’t warn you.

For 3 days prior to the marathon I had been on a strict meal plan set by the lovely Megan, my friend from run club. Her husband had used the same meal plan leading up to his last marathon and said that it was the first time he hasn’t hit the wall. It was a good enough reason for me as I wanted to be as prepared as possible. It was a lot of food and I have never felt so bursting at the seams, but it would all be worth it come race day.

I had my clothes out ready the night before and a list for the morning so that way I wouldn’t forget anything. I had my gels, hydralite, waist belt & hat ready. I had pre-pinned my race bib to the shirt. All I had to do now was sleep, get up, get dressed and get to the start line.

My alarm went off at 4:45am on race morning and I couldn’t wait to get out of bed. I had stayed at my folks place the night before as it was much closer to the start line and my Dad & Sister where going to drop me at the start line then follow me along the course at all the spectator meeting points. My sister was my official photographer and my mum would later join them, so I’d see her just after the halfway point too. The last section of the course was a double back, so they would end up staying in the one place and cheer me on twice, then rush to see me again at the finish line.

For breakfast I had Turkish toast with honey and a peppermint tea to settle the tummy. I had this as soon as I got up so my body had time to process it. Then I got myself ready to go. We were leaving the house at 5.45am.

Well, where was the start line? We had an address and a thousand print outs of maps for everything but we had great difficulty finding the start line as our GPS took us to the right street but when we got there the road was blocked of. So we tried to get through a few other ways using the GPS but that way was blocked off too. Luckily my sister was on her phone on the Internet and found another cross street and we eventually got there, how frustrating. Must not forget to give them that feedback to prevent it from happening to others in the future.

So we eventually got to the start line (phew!) and people were starting to warm up. I spotted the portable toilets as I wanted to have one last pit stop before I got running (just in case). So they dropped me off to go park the car and we agreed to meet back up at the start line.
There were about 150 marathoners taking the challenge and about 400 people competing in the relay (half marathon) so I estimated that about 350 people would be at the start line. A nice small group to run with.

I met up with my support crew and got some photos at the start line, then started warming up for the run. It was only 8 degrees and I really didn’t want to give up my jacket but it had to be done.

I had chosen to wear my Nike LunarGlide4 shoes (green, purple and grey), my black BSC compression racing leggings and a green Nike singlet. I had a lightweight belt with a stretch pocket section that was carrying my gels & my hydralite. And I also had my visor & sunnies on top for later. Sunrise was at 6.52am and the race started at 7am.

People started moving towards the start line more and more and I gave my crew one last hug. It was go time, so I positioned myself between the 4:00 & 4:30 hour finish time pacers as I roughly thought that’s where I would end up. However my goal was the get to the finish line in one piece.

The gun went off and we all started running, the first section was a little out and back loop so I got to run past my crew twice already, ha ha. I made sure I was in the right spot for them to get a few happy snaps and I hoped I would still be smiling each time I saw them.

There was a small hill at the start as we made our way up and onto the M7 and to be honest I had a horrible start. I couldn’t feel my hands or my feet. My calves were tight as ever and my right ankle felt like it was locked in position unable to move. By 2 km I could really notice that my right foot was struggling, you could even hear it in my footsteps but everything I did seemed to have no effect. I stopped at the 3km mark to stretch my calves as I had to do something, but unfortunately this did not have much effect.

I tried to stay calm but I was worried that my running style would be doing damage to my foot/leg so I slowed my pace right down and let more people overtake me. I knew the biggest hill started at 7km and I hoped it would ease before then. I had to consciously relax my body and realised that I was just going to have to run through this. So I took a deep breath and tried to take in the surroundings and not think about the pain.

When I saw my support crew at the first few stops it really made me smile. It was so nice knowing they were there for me and hat I would see them again many times on the course. I made sure I smiled and gave them a thumbs up, this pain wasn’t going to beat me. I was just tight, I just had to run it out. Just keep running.

When I got to the first big hill and reassessed, my calves were marginally better but I was going to have to keep plodding on at a slow pace. It was quite painful but I kept going, nothing was going to stop me today. This was my marathon.

Finally when I got to 13 km I realised the pain had slowly subsided and I was running free and easy. It seems that the hills had actually helped. So I started to pick up the pace and I started overtaking people one by one, picking them off in the distance and then slowly hunting them down. I felt like I was flying, but I knew I couldn’t push it too much as there was still a long way to go.

I ran past meadows with cows and a huge equestrian centre which was in full swing. And we got beeped by cars that saw us running next to the motorway. And the weather was spectacular, I could not have asked for a better day!

I kept slowly overtaking people and set my sights for the halfway point which was just before we crossed over the M4. When I got there I said hello to a runner called SJ and we bantered as runners do sometimes on a long journey. She was a very experienced runner and when I learned that she had done longer distances than the marathon I was even more impressed. Plus this was her third marathon this month, what a machine!!

SJ has been having trouble with her knees during the run though and she was having to take it easy. She was such a positive and motivational person, it was hard not to want to run with her. So I stuck with her for most of the run from that point onwards, she helped me more than she knows and I will be forever thankful for that.

We passed the point were the turnoff was for the stadium (and finish line) and began the loop out to the turn around point which was roughly at 32 km. We had a nice shady spot to run in which helped. At this point I really had an urge to spit because i had a lot of phlegm building up, but it didn’t go well and I spat on my arm. Gross!!

At the 27km mark I got the biggest surprise of all. As I headed for the drink station on a turn that took us under the motorway, I heard loud cheers and my name being called, but I knew it wasn’t my family as I had only just seen them about 1km back.

My fellow Nike Run Club leaders were there in full force, jumping and screaming and cheering me on. They had our team shirts on and big smiling faces, it was such a beautiful gesture to have them all here supporting me. I made sure I hugged them all and took in the moment, it’s one that I will never forget.

SJ and I kept plodding along and she knew many of the other runners who ran toward us heading for the finish line. We cheered everyone on and wished them well, it was actually nice to be able to see these sprinters in action as normally I’m so far behind that I haven’t a clue how they run. Some were struggling and you could see it in their form, others had their heads held high. But they all had one thing in common, this look of determination and focus. That’s what I had to do, stay focused on the goal – get to the finish line.

The journey to the turn around point seemed to take an age. We saw so many other runners and it just felt like I would never get there. And when we finally approached it I realised that this was the longest run I had ever done. Everything from here on was new and exciting and I s going to celebrate. SJ and I high-fived and we got back to business. She had been giving me pointers about the course and the return trip and I was ready for it. She persuaded me to speed up and push myself on the hills and I did, so I slowly began to get ahead from her. I was really looking forward to seeing the run club crew again so I kept that on my mind as I ran the next section. From there it would only be 5km to the finish line. Just get there.

Again this section seemed to drag on, it was long and tough and I felt like walking a few times but then I let that thought pass. I was here to run, just keep running and you will get there quicker. A couple of times I heard SJ cheering me along in the distance and I kept giving her a thumbs up, what a champion.

And then when I came running down the hill towards the point where i had last seen my run club crew, there they were. They came in next to me and behind me and we ran together, it was an amazing experience. They made me feel on top of the world and I know they couldn’t see it but I had tears in my eyes. It was magical and it will be forever etched in my memory.

Now I knew I only had 5km to go. 5km!! I had run just over 38km and I was going to make it.

So I walked. That’s right, I walked. I don’t know why, but I think I just needed a timeout. So I walked about 100m and then said to myself “Hello! You’ve got less than 5km to go and you’re walking!! Get running!!” and with that I was running again. SJ had caught up to me again and helped me push through, she helped me to keep moving at a faster pace than I had been going and it felt pretty good.

At this point it came to my attention that there was a small pain in the bottom of my left foot, but I out it out of my mind and kept that finish line in my sights.

We reached the last hill and SJ pushed me to go hard for the finish and I did. I flew up that hill and used gravity to speed my way down the other side. Now all I had to do was take the path towards the stadium and do one last victory lap towards the finish.

Entering the stadium was sensational. There were so many people cheering and people everywhere. I spotted an older guy ahead of me and as i turned the last bend I decided to make a sprint for it. I was going to catch him and these legs were going to get me there.

I don’t know where the energy came from, or the determination, maybe it was knowing all my family & friends were there watching and supporting. But I did it, I caught that older guy and overtook him and went blazing over the line. Well what I thought was the line, and then it was alerted to me that I had another 10 metres to go, oops! ha ha (what an idiot). I quickly crossed the proper finish line and i had the biggest smile ever.

I had just run a marathon. I was a marathoner. I has run 42.195km!!

I have so many people to thank for getting me here and supporting me. There are so many to list so I hope I don’t miss anyone. A big thank you to Jared for putting up with my crazy training routine and healthy eating plans and everything else!!To my family for always supporting and encouraging me in everything (crazy) that I do. Thank you to Todd for giving my first marathon advice and information about the M7 Marathon, it really helped having your insight. To Megan for sharing the 3 day pre-marathon eating plan which no doubt helped me stay on track and avoid hitting the dreaded wall. To everyone who came and supported me on the day, it was so amazing to see you all there… Margie Maxwell, Johnnie Maxwell, Megan Purcell, Joe Purcell, Darcy Purcell, Trish Cassidy, Alison Archer, Kayley Archer, Chloe Archer, Elly Archer, Holly Archer, Todd Alcock, Shaun Hardy, Megan Maurice, Kate Stanton, Michael Hyams, Laura Roemekso, Laura Pagni. Plus all my friends who emailed, texted with well wishes – thank you!!

You guys all rock and i’m lucky to have you all in my life!!

Happy Running!

Me @ the start lineon my waythumbs upMe and Sarah-JaneSurprised to see my friends from run club, the smile says it allMy Run Club support crew sharing the roadMy mum cheering in the backgroundThe final lapThe final lap 2Overtaking the older guyI made itMy recovery crewMy wonderful friends and family

It’s time

When I first started contemplating a marathon it was less than a year ago, so lets skip back 12 months and find out where it all started.
This time last year I had just started training for my first half marathon, the Blackmores Sydney half marathon being held in September 2012. At that point the furthest I had ever run was 14km in the City2Surf and even that was at a push. So I was very scared to be taking on a new challenge of over 20km and my training before the race had me doing up to 17km.
To be confident that i could make the distance, I made sure that I ran with the Nike Run Club 2 nights a week and fit in a longer run on the weekends, but I must admit I was slack with the weekend runs and didn’t always make the effort. But I kept running and gave it my all, quitting was never an option.
Needless to say I finished the half marathon and in just under 2 hours which was a great achievement for me. I was in tears as I went over the finish line and at the time I thought it was the biggest thing that would happen to me in running.
Little did I know how much effect the race would have on me and I’d say that the runners high had a lot to do with this. I instantly started thinking about what race I wanted to do next and a small, shy voice in my head said “marathon”. I ignored it for a little while, but after having chatted to my friend Todd about his first marathon I knew there was no turning back.
I chose to run the M7 Cities Marathon as its close to my hometown where I grew up and because its one of the smaller, not so popular races so there wouldn’t be lots of runners and lots of crowds. I’m not sure why I liked that idea but I think it’s because I want to be able to focus on my running and not dodging other runners.
So I registered, and I read a lot, and I asked questions, and I googled, and I did as much preparation work as I could. If I was really going to run this marathon then I needed to make sure I had a good training plan, a healthy diet and took care of myself. So learning from reading about other runners and probing my fellow run leaders for information really has helped me more than they know. Thank you guys and girls, you know who you are!!
I have spent months training and preparing for this run. I have travelled distances that I wouldn’t have even dreamt of a year ago and those small milestones have given me to motivation and the confidence to get to the start line tomorrow.
I have created this wonderfully healthy lifestyle and I feel fitter than I ever have done before. So what now? Now all I can do is wait for tomorrow, wait for the alarm to go off, wait to be dropped at the start line, and wait for the gun to go off. I’m so excited as I type this but I really must get to sleep.
A big thank you to everyone who has helped me and guided me to where I am today, I have the best friends and family that anyone could ever ask for. And I can’t wait to see so many of you at the finish line.
Wish me luck!! 🙂

Thank you Vic

This morning we had our last run training session with Vic Mitchell from DC Run and I was looking forward to the time trial and hopefully beating my past result.

During our third session with Vic we ran a 2 km time trial and I got a time of 8:17 which I was very happy with at the time. Most of my runs are a LOT slower than that but mainly because I have been running for distance and not time in my training runs.

Today I got a time of 7:56 which means I’ve cut a whopping 21 seconds from this distance. Needless to say I am very chuffed to have had such a positive result and I will definitely be looking to get some more technique training from Vic in the future.

My goal after the marathon is to improve my efficiency by improving my running technique and doing much shorter races to implement this. I’m sure this will be a long, slow process but it will be much better for me in the long run (no pun intended) as I want to be able to run forever!

So a big thank you to Vic for the early morning sessions and David from DC Run for organising our group. I highly recommend you contact these guys if you want to improve your running and live in the Sydney area.

Woohoo! 🙂

The final countdown

There are 5 more sleeps until I compete in my very first marathon. It’s very hard to describe the feelings that I am going through at the moment, but I am mostly excited.

Last night I had Run Club and I took the 7 km group at 6 minute pace, a nice comfortable pace with mostly new runners. It’s one of my favorite groups and I must say that I felt really good. Really strong. And i even had a comment from a runner that “I make it look easy”. Which is pretty much how the run felt last night so it’s nice to know I looked that way too.

I have been tapering for about a week with only a few small runs and not much else. So I feel like I have this energy inside me that is going to waste, but I know come Sunday I can use it to my advantage for the marathon.

Wednesday night will be my last run before the marathon and I am taking the 5 km group at 6 minute pace which is usually also a beginner group. I love helping the new runners reach their weekly goals and it always leaves me feeling good inside to see their smiling faces when they thank you at the end of the run. It’s great to give back to a sport that has helped me so much.

So other than that I will be spending my time mentally preparing for the race. Many thoughts have been whizzing through my mind but they are all positive and i’m keeping it that way. I know that on the day there will be battles to face and walls to climb, but if i stay positive then nothing can stop me.

 

I know i’m not alone when I say that I really do love running and it’s helped me in more ways than I can ever put in words.

Is there anybody out there?

I wonder how many of you actually read my posts? And I also wonder what you think of them? So please feel free to add any comments or suggestions on things you would like to hear about as it will make these more beneficial to you all.

Wednesdays are a killer day for me, training-wise. I start the day early with a DC Run group training session hosted by champion athlete Victoria Mitchell before work, hit the gym at lunch for something light like yoga or a swim, and then I finish the day with Nike Run Club.

This morning was a tough session with Vic and I must be honest and say that I feel like I I let her down as I did not get the chance to give it 100%. Unfortunately during the session my hamstrings muscles and adjoining muscles started to tighten up, so because of the pain I decided that it was better to not push it, and take a step back. Especially so close to the marathon.

We were doing 600m intervals and on the 2nd last one I took some fuel off the fire nearer to the end and slowly jogged the last 100m. I had to do the same again on the last interval too as the muscles (especially in my right leg) were burning and felt like they were rock hard. It was really limiting my movement so I took it easy on the slow jog back to the office too.

I was a bit worried, as I knew I had run club tonight and needed to be able to run 7km. One of my team mates suggested a hot bath and it gave me the idea that during my lunch break I should hit the sauna & spa at my gym. And i’m so glad that I did, my legs are feeling much better now and I should be fine taking the slower pace group tonight.

Tomorrow I have a 1 hour remedial massage scheduled and i’m sure that afterwards my muscles will be feeling fabulous. But if not, I promise to take it easy for my 20km run on the weekend and to visit the physio next week as a precaution. Better to be safe than sorry.

I’m really looking forward to run club tonight now too, let’s hope it stays dry.

Happy running 🙂

It’s taper time

Today I ran my last long run before the marathon, which means that it’s now taper time. This morning I ran 32km around the Shire and i must say it wasn’t easy.

It was more my head that wanted to quit a few times today, but I kept telling myself that i’m strong willed and kicked my own butt back into gear.

I spent some of the run thinking about my run club buddies who were up in the goldcoast running, especially Kate who was competing in her first marathon. We have shared training tips and ideas and I was so excited for her. Turns out she smashed the marathon in less than 4 hours, what a legend!

I must say that i’m a little disheartened because after today’s run I feel like i’m getting slower. My average pace was slower than usual, and i’m not sure why. Maybe it was just a tough day, a bad day, and I just need to forget it and keep looking forward.

There are only 3 weeks until my first marathon and i’m getting more nervous, scared and excited as the days go by. I spent most of the day with my legs up recovering and i’ve decided that only positive thoughts are allowed from here on in.

So at this very moment in 3 weeks time I will have finished my first marathon, I will have conquered what only 1% of the population have ever done.

I will become a marathoner.