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