What an amazing weekend with a great bunch of people!
Last Sunday was the inaugural Stadium Run in Newcastle, our RunLab founder Vlad (who just ran the Berlin marathon in 2:18, what an inspiration!!) had rallied a crew to organise this amazing event and he did an exceptional job. Aside from a little hiccup with road closures that delayed the start, I throughly enjoyed the event and thank everyone involved for the wonderful experience.
As a RunLab(ber) we were given the ‘elite’ treatment at this event, which meant we had our very own personalised bibs, an ‘elite’ room to use before and after the race, and the best part…… I was lucky enough to toe the line with Victoria Mitchell, a running hero of mine and a beautiful sole! My bets were on her for 1st woman over the line, she runs like a gazelle and is amazing to watch. Go Vic!
I have never been on the start line of a race before and the atmosphere was electric. Usually I self seed myself somewhere near the back and find a pacer to stick with during the run, but today I wasn’t sure what pace I should run. I can hear you thinking “what was my race plan?” and to be honest I didn’t have one. My running mate Robbo was trying to get me to stick with him but i didn’t think I’d be able to keep up and didn’t want to go out too hard then crash later on. Another good friend Amanda and I decided that we would run together and just see how we felt, perhaps trying to stick with the 1:50 pacer for as long as we could.
The gun eventually went off and we watched the elites go flying ahead with beautiful motion. Amanda and I chatted and realised we were going way too fast, but we couldn’t slow down (crap!). The hype of the start was exciting and we got carried away with it. But I felt good, so we chatted and kept trying to slow ourselves down to a pace that was manageable.
Unfortunately I lost Amanda at one of the drink stations and couldn’t see her when I looked back. I like to run through the drink stations, I’ve (almost) perfected the art so that I can keep moving while drinking, as i find it hard to get running again once stopped. As i ran along without her and without being able to locate a pacer, I changed my game plan. I decided to keep pushing at this pace and run to feel, this meant I would try to not look at my watch (to check pace) and just run to how I was feeling. It has worked for me in the past in time trials so I was hoping it would work now too. Fingers crossed!!
Okay, so I cracked and looked at the pace on my watch a few times and I was surprised to find that i was sitting between 5’00 and 5’10 pace, could I keep this up? There was only one way to find out.
So i kept pushing myself and picking people off in the distance to catch them. I was looking forward to getting close to the turnaround point as it meant some beautiful beach views and a chance to see the front runners in action as they ran back towards us (and the finish).
There were a few little hills as we approached the beach and along the waterfront, but nothing compared to the mountains I’ve run (walked) in the past, so I pushed myself to maintain pace all the way up the hills and over them just as coach Damon has trained us to do, he would have been proud! I saw the front runners battling it out along the beachfront and they looked ‘in the zone’ but comfortable and flying! I cheered them on and many others behind them as I approached the turn around point.
I was lucky enough to see Julianna, Amanda, Crystal, Robbo and a few other Runlabbers near the turn around point, we were not that far apart after all and I decided to try and catch Robbo, I told him “I was coming to get him” (ha ha).
Reaching halfway is always a massive boost for me, and I attacked the last few hills as I left the beachfront and cheered on as many other runners as possible. I did a check of how I was feeling and I felt good, well, as good as one can feel halfway through a 21km race at a pace they’ve never run before!
This course was all on road so i had been worried about my knee leading into the race, and also the lack of training, but my knee had not given me any niggles and I was feeling pretty good. I was getting a bit tired at one point and a lady in a pink shirt came past me, I looked at my watch and I had slowed to 5’20. I wasn’t going to let this slip away. I made a decision to pick up my feet and get the pace back to 5’10 and I did, I caught the pink shirt lady and we chatted. I told myself to stick with her and i’d get to that finish line. So i put my head down and worked on my form making sure i was running efficiently and kept her in my sights.
There was another turnaround section and i got to see Robbo again, he was just ahead of me. I cheered him on and told him that I was getting closer, I told him he looked good and should finish strong. Helping others always helps me forget about myself and makes the run go quicker, plus i’m sure it helps them to hear positive encouragement so I do it as much as I can, even if I don’t know the person.
We rounded another bend and another water station, I didn’t need any water between here and the finish so kept pushing on. I passed pink shirt girl but she caught up to me (again) and we chatted with what breath we had. After a little while she got ahead of me (yes, again) and I just tried to get into a comfy pace not thinking about her and trying to relax into my strides. I felt tired and hot, but like I could push myself and hopefully keep up the pace till the finish. Here is an action shot, I think we had about 4km to go from this point.
I kept pink shirt girl in my sights, she was only 20-30 metres ahead of me and there was less than 3km to go now. We ran back along the road we had earlier and saw the start of the 5km race. We actually had to cross in front of the runners to get to our course which was a bit of a challenge, but we found a break and made it through. I was starting to feel the heat of the day and i’m sure my face had gone bright red, maybe I should have stopped for more water? I’d taken a gel at 10km and had stopped 3 times for water/electrolytes so hopefully that had been enough.
Then I looked up and who did I see in front of me? It was Nat Lennon, she was doing the 10km and had only just got back into running, she looked good. I sped up to catch her and gave her a wave and some well wishes as I went past. It was so nice to see another friendly face along the course!
Gosh it was hot.
But there wasn’t far to go now and I could hear the stadium noise building the closer i got. Pink shirt girl was still not far in front of me and with about 1km to go I decided to pick up the pace and finish strong. I went past her and thankfully didn’t see her again (yay!).
As I entered the stadium the buzz was incredible, it pushed me to keep up the speed as I did a lap of the field. I rounded the last corner and heard people cheering my name as I approached the finish line. I saw the clock at 1:48 (and something seconds) and thought “My god, i’m going to break the 1:50!!” so I sped up and managd to finish in 1:48:51 – a half marathon PB for me!
I was wrecked, I was dizzy but I was so, so happy. I was given my finishers medal, then found some water, food and some RunLab friends. Below pic with Justine and Robbo.
We chatted as I tried to get my breath back and I kept moving my legs which were ever so tight now. The dizziness got worse, so I made my way back to the ‘elite’ room to recover, chatting to a few other friends on the way back. I got to the room and lay on the ground with my feet in the air up against the wall, and eventually the dizziness subsided.
What an amazing run, an amazing event, with amazing people. I knew I had given it my all, I could not have given anything more and I was so proud for not giving up. And the best part was that it had been pain-free!!
Happy Running 😀