The Marathon Edition – Nicole Bunyon

Hi, I’m Nicole and I am the founder of Running Mums Australia. I wanted to share my marathon story to you to show you that anyone, with determination and commitment can run a marathon. Here is my story.

On September 22nd, 2013 I ran a marathon. I covered 42.2km. All the training I did was totally worth it and I am on cloud nine. It is all I can think about. It’s all I want to talk about and I am so proud of myself that I didn’t give up all these months past in training and on the day. It could have been so easy to give up given injury and my lovely training partner being out injured. Knowing that you have to run a long run every weekend and so many during the week can sometimes play with your mind when all you do is run and there was times that it all just seemed so overwhealmingly hard.

The fact that I made it to the start line is simply an achievement as so many just don’t given to illness or injury and those are things that I had to deal with during my training. I had lost about 4 weeks of training due to my operation and my shin splints and I still got there and I still made it, and I still made it within my goal time. I am simply humbled and amazed that I did it and the smile will be on my face for weeks to come.

The other AMAZING thing is that I managed to raise $2,750 for Autism Spectrum Australia. This is a cause so close to my heart and is one of the major reasons I ran this marathon. My daughter has autism and I work with a lot of kids also who have Autism and this was a good way for me to support an amazing charity.

So here is a rundown of the event. Get a cuppa. It’s going to be long.

On the saturday, the night before the race hubby and I stayed in the city in a hotel. I tried to relax but I was so anxious. I just wanted race day to come already. I was worried about every niggle. My calf was sore and so hubby gave me a good massage and I layed around eating, as you do when in the carb loading phase. So much food, so little room, but I managed to fuel up pretty spot on and I was happy with how I felt. We booked an italian restaurant and whilst we were eating our dinner in walked Steve Monaghetti! He was eating with the elite marathon runners (mostly from parts of africa!) and it made me very excited and nervous that we were so close. When we got back to our hotel I had a bath and tried to imagine myself on the course. I prayed and I thanked God for getting me there. I tried to go to sleep at around 9pm but it seemed almost impossible. The lift outside our room was so loud. It was all I could hear ALL NIGHT LONG. I finally after much exhaustion, anxiousness and upset fell asleep at 1am only to wake up at 3am to hear the stupid lifts again! Then I just lay there eyes closed but awake until I heard my alarm at 4.30am. I was very concerned that I only had two hours sleep but the adrenaline kicked in and I was ready. I had some breakfast, which for me looked like a honey roll and a banana and half a black coffee and a bottle of water. Then I had a shower and got dressed and went back to bed until 5.30am. Then I woke up and had another half a banana, a few bites of an energy bar and a large glass of powerade. Then it was off to the toilet, taping up my shin and rubbing in some purcutane cream where I knew I would need it and before I knew it it was 6am and we were out the door onto the train. When we got to the start we were just in time to see the halfer’s go and it made me so nervous. I got interviewed by suncorps run positive team and you can watch that here. You can see the nervousness on my face!! I couldn’t believe I was here and I had absolutely no idea what it was going to feel like.

My race plan was this: I was going to pull back at the start for about the first 15k sticking to about 6.20 pace. Then at 15-30k I was going to speed up to about 6.10 pace. Then at the last 12 I wanted to do about 6 minute pace. I wasn’t far off my plan but I averaged about a 6.15 pace throughout the whole race. I didn’t quite run a negative split as I had planned but I was pretty consistent with my pace throughout. It was really hard not to go to fast at the start and I literally had to pull back to stop myself.

 As we got into the starting area I was nervous but excited. I lined up near the 4.30 pacer and I psyched myself up. Hubby gave me a kiss goodbye and I was on my own from that point. Everyone was excited and ready and as the gun went and a few minutes passed we were away past the start line. I gave a good WOOHOO!! and I could hardly believe I was here. RUNNING my first marathon. I had a huge smile on my face and I was just so excited. Everything felt right. My gear, my head, my breathing. As we came around the bend we came to the ramp onto  the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It was spectacular seeing thousands of runners running across. I few people were chatting and someone asked me what I was listening to. I was listening to some jazz at that point and I felt comfy and alive. I looked right to see a train going across and I thought, I wonder if hubby is in the train, at that moment I saw him looking out the window of the doorway. He actually saw me and we both waved and I laughed! It was so funny and so amazing that at that moment we saw eachother. Just brilliant!!. I enjoyed the run across the bridge and through the corkskrew and across the top of circular quay station. The views were spectacular and I just took it all in. I felt great. I had to pull back a few times as my pace was a little fast but overall I felt right on target. I took my first two drinks at the 5k station and kept going. My plan was to walk through every drink station. Drink one water and when powerade was on offer at every second have one powerade too and I did that the WHOLE race. It was hot already and I wanted to stay hydrated.

 We came to our first hill up macquarie street and then turned down into the botanical gardens and around lady macquarie point. I remember taking in all the gorgeousness of our harbour and seeing the navy ships and views out to the ocean. It was just spectacular. As we exited the gardens we reached the 10k mark. I knew hubby was going to try and see me there so I looked around and there he was! It was so exciting and he said ‘your doing awesome’ and I kept going at pace through to hyde park. I had my first GU at this point and washed it down with water from the next aid station. I felt strong and under total control.

 The course was just gorgeous and the spectators were so encouraging cheering people on. We ran over a makeshift bridge in hyde park and then the course turned onto oxford street heading up towards Moore Park. At about the 15k mark I turned my head and noticed a girl in a bright green singlet. I could hardly believe my eyes when I realised it was a running friend that I had made on instagram, Laura!! I was so excited and so was she….we briefly hugged and ran about the next 8km together. We chatted a bit and it was so good to see the excitement and encouragement Laura was giving to all her friends she came past along the course, high fiving and wooing. It was so much fun and I still felt great.

I had my next GU at about the 20k mark and my stomach and my body still felt great and strong. I was holding pace, even going a bit faster at times and I was ready to pick it up a notch. I noticed the 4:30 pacer so I stuck with him for a while and then at about the 25km mark I picked it up a bit and I moved past them. I felt that this was a confident move. I was spurred on by the thought that in about 5km I would see my family at around the 30km mark and it kept me going.

me at 30kms. Feeling awesome.

The worst thing was that alot of the course, although gorgeous was in the hot hot sun. The run around centennial park was lovely but so hot and it did start to play tricks on me. I made sure that I kept drinking, sometimes two drinks of water and always a powerade when on offer and the WHOLE cup.

I chewed a jellybean every km from the start to keep my glucose levels up and I felt a huge sense of relief when I exited centennial park and knew that I was over half way and on my way back downhill into the city. The downhill run back through oxford street was good. I felt amazing and so strong, but my right calf was feeling a little tight but I refused to stop and stretch it as I didn’t want to lose time.

 As I came into hyde park again it was a relief that there was some shade and I focused and in the distance I saw my son Jonah in a tree. I called out to him and was like a mad woman waving my hands about. My husband and my kids and mum and dad finally noticed me and waved back and cheered and I remember the look of awe in my kids eyes. I looked (and felt) so strong and I was at 30km! I yelled out “Im going to finish!!!” and then I ran off into the distance.

Seeing them gave me a HUGE boost and I remember flooring it downhill to circular quay. I knew that I had it and when I got to the quay it was amazing to see all of the people down there cheering all of the runners on. But the heat. Oh the heat. It was actually not that hot, about 26 degrees, but the sun was just beaming down and not a cloud in sight so in a way it was so much hotter.

I remember thinking once I passed the 32k mark that I was now in unchartered territory. I was excited as I had never run further than this before, but I didn’t know what lay ahead. I was prepared a little from what a friend who had ran this marathon before had told me about the last 10k but I don’t think anything could prepare me for what lay ahead.

 I felt good going around the rocks and under the bridge and then we were shot out to pyrmont along Sussex Street. At about the 33km mark the sun was just SO HOT. There was no shade and there was no water station and my bottle had run out. I pushed through and I had some jellybeans. Then we came to the onramp of the freeway that shoots out to pyrmont and it was an absolute unrelenting killer of a hill. In searing heat I remember everyone seemed to just look like they were about to give up. There were people stretching on the side of the road, there were people ON the side of the road, there were people grunting and groaning and swearing and I tried so hard to stay focused and just put one foot in front of the other. My legs felt like lead and I remember thinking “Im about to hit the wall”. At that point I remember thinking that when your muscles are giving up you need to feed them so I opened another GU and downed it in two seconds flat. I also had some more jellybeans and I walked for about what felt like forever, so upset that I had to walk up this hill when I had not walked the whole way apart for through the water stations, but it was only about 20 seconds. Then I willed myself to keep going.

I thought of all the people I was running for and the money that people had raised to my charity and by GOD I was not going to give up. NO WAY. I can do this and I can cope with the pain.

 I was so happy when I finally saw a water station so I scoffed down two cups of water and a cup of powerade and I grabbed another water to fill my bottle.

Then we came to the 35km mark where there was another dreaded hill back onto the freeway. Once again I plodded along which felt like snail pace, but actually I was right on pace and I was once again forced to walk for about 20 seconds. I also moved to the side and stretched my calf but then it started to cramp so I stopped stretching. Then my mind kicked in again and I was like, ‘NO MORE WALKING’ and so I kicked it into gear. When I saw the 38km mark I KNEW I was going to finish and I was so excited. I just kept going, one foot infront of the other. As I saw the corner around to circular quay and back to the 40km mark my heart felt so full. I felt like bursting into tears. I had done it. All the emotions were coming to my mind and I was going to finish this thing.

It was at that point there was no stopping, not even for the last water station and I didn’t even know what my time was as the whole time I had set my watch up wrong and it was on loops so I knew my pace only and that is what I looked at the whole time. My phone was right out and it was telling me I was 1km more than every marker and that my pace was alot faster so I tried to ignore it as it drove me crazy thinking I was closer than I really was!! I don’t even remember what music I was listening to for the whole race except for the last km when ROAR, by Katy Perry came on and I was like. . . YES….great song to run in to!!! So I found my inner roar and when I was hearing. “I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire, cause I am a champion and your gonna hear me ROAR, louder than a lion, cause I am a champion and your gonna hear me roar…I was signing it in my head and pumping towards the finish.

Coming through the finish shute was the best experience. It was amazing. Thousands of people cheering you on and something I will never ever forget. All the emotions flowed. About 200m before the finish I saw dad and I waved and was so excited. Then about 100m before the finish I saw my family and my brother and my sister inlaw were also there. I was so excited I threw my hands in the air and said ” I DID IT!!!”. The smile on my face said it all. I was overjoyed. I saw the clock which read 4:29:08 and I was determined to get through that finish line under 4 hours 30. I just pushed my legs so hard and I made it through. My official time was 4:26:12 which was four minutes faster than my goal and I was absolutely stoked. I couldn’t have hoped for a better run.

I had no real issues in this race other than the fact that it was so hot and that the hills were what broke me in the final 10k. I did manage to get one mega blister on my big toe which I didn’t actually notice until I got home. I just felt like my sock was moving around in my shoe. I held back quite a bit and on reflection I think that I could have gone alot faster, but for my first marathon I didn’t really know what to expect and the fact that I had a great experience makes it so much easier for me to want to do it all over again!

 If you ever get a chance to do a marathon, do it. It is something that you will remember for the rest of your days. It is a great test of physical, but mostly mental stamina. It is amazing when you want something how much you can convince your mind and body to keep going to it’s absolute limits.

For now, there will be more of these moments.

Thank you so much for sharing in the journey with me. What a journey. xxx

 Here are some pics of the final finish that my brother took for me.

the smile says it all

hands in the air I was so excited


9 responses to “The Marathon Edition – Nicole Bunyon

  1. Nicole what an awesome story! I have tears reading that! WOW! Thank you for starting this group, you’re a wonderful inspiration and I just love the people this group attracts. Well done! x

  2. Fantastic emotional read for me Nicole as I ran the same marathon and completely re-lived my experience through yours AND our timings were pretty much the same (mine 4:26:06)! Like yourself I was injured and had 7 weeks off training, bad case of tendonitis (which just kept flaring up), my physio was on my case at every appointment about pulling out or changing to do the half but I was determined to at least start the full and pull out when I had to – my argument was what if I finished the half and could still keep going!). I was aiming for a sub 4 hour finish prior to the injury – so will be on a mission to achieve this one day! Thanks for sharing this and thanks for creating such a fantastic facebook group!

  3. Love it! I did the half last year around the same time I met you online. Are you doing the full again this year? If so I will see you there! Not sure how I’ll pull up after London but figure I’ve enough time to rest, have a break and re-train without losing too much fitness. Hopefully we’ll catch each other along the way! xx

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  5. Wow Nicole, that is awesome, I feel like I was there running with you, sounds amazing, you are truly inspiring, thanks for sharing your running journey with us 🙂

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