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!!