My 1st marathon! I ran twice as far as my half marathons so this story will be twice as long….. Just a warning.
Wow… Where do I start? I guess most of you reading this know the lead up to my 1st marathon. I have done 4 half marathons and followed a simple 16 week marathon training program that I found on the internet on my own to do this marathon… This marathon that was planned to be my first full since late last year. I never missed one day out of the training and experimented and practiced different nutrition (both pre run and during run) according to tips I had read or ideas other runners had shared.
Finally figuring out what I think would work for me a few weeks ago, I just trusted my own journey and continued to be my own coach.
Day before: Andrew, Kloe, Mahli and I got to the Gold Coast just before lunch time and wandered around harbour town with our friends Megan and Phil. Had a carb loaded lunch.. Nandos chicken burger (white bun….. ) and chips…..
I was very wary of not having anything I hadn’t had pre run before so made sure I didn’t have spicy chicken or any dressing on the burger.
Holy crap did I guzzle some water on the Saturday. I constantly had a water bottle in my hand and didn’t stop sipping it.
This of course resulted in lots of toilet finding! I wasn’t going into this with any chance of getting dehydrated.
Before checking into the hotel we want to grab my race pack from convention centre.. Now call me crazy but I have a thing about numbers ‘feeling’ good or not. I mentioned this to Megan and she says “hope it’s got a 6 in it”. I was thinking no no no… Don’t say it out loud because now if it doesn’t I will feel unlucky!
My favourite numbers have always been 4, 11 & 12. But I didn’t dare put that out there. Heading to the booth to get race pack I had a little chuckle to myself because I nearly went to the half marathon line! Whoah… I am playing with the big kids now!
Race number– drum roll please…. 1⃣1⃣6⃣0⃣ Seriously? Things were just feeling great.
Got to apartment and unpacked, set out race clothes, pinned on race bib, cut up energy bar, packed gels in arm bands, packed jelly beans and carb tabs in ziplock bag. Pinned granddads badge to my running pants (a badge I carry with me for every long run so I feel like I have my late grandad with me, he was a fantastic runner and even ran with the Olympic torch twice!), iPod on charge… Phew… Ok…. Take a few breaths….. Have been in denial up until now and all of a sudden the sky is getting darker and we are losing daylight hours. I keep saying to myself ‘this time tomorrow it’s all going to be a memory’.
Kloe, Megan, Phil and I go for a wander a few blocks to visit her mum and dad (also down the gold coast to watch their son and daughter In law run the marathon). This keeps me occupied for a little while.. Not long enough though.
We are in the heart of surfers paradise and there are people out jogging that i just know are going to to be running tomorrow, getting their last bit of training in. It really made me ask myself if I had done enough. Should I be out jogging too?
Back at the apartment I tucked into a hearty bowl of brown rice and kangaroo sausages, then a few slices of raisin bread with butter. Most people talk about pre race carb loading with pizza and lashings of rich pasta but I wasn’t about to try something rich and saucy… The thought alone made me want to S*#t myself! Lol
Final check that watch and iPod were charged and I had everything set out for early start, set my alarm for 4:45 and I made myself go to bed around 10:00. Holy crap, this is really happening!
Surprisingly I actually slept quite well, I woke to the alarm and I was having the worst dream that I had started the run barefoot and had to go back to the start to find my shoes! Snuck out of my room so I didn’t wake Andrew and no mucking around- got dressed, had breakfast (oats and banana, 2 slices of raisin bread, black coffee), and straight to the toilet. Any runner will tell you if you have done a poo the morning of a long run your off to a good start…. Let’s just say… Great start!
Megan and Phil got up and walked me to the apartment where other friends running the marathon were staying. It was cool outside but not too cold and there were runners everywhere at bus stops and jogging the streets. We joked around and had a laugh which was great to take my mind off it for 10 minutes.
This story is pretty long so let’s skip a bit and just say
– free bus to race start, lots of nervous/excited running banter from a bus full of runners that were mostly strangers but felt like friends somehow.
-loads of port a loos… Lined straight up and went twice before start to make sure nothing left in bladder.
– application of Vaseline to groin and armpit to avoid the dreaded chaffe… Dopey me forgot to do it in the toilets so found myself under a tree surrounded by 4900 other people with a jar of vas in one hand and the other hand down the front of my pants…. Must have been a good look!
– ate half my energy bar, took two Panadol (just in case, I had a funny feeling something might start hurting in the next few hours!), ditched the jumper and headed to the start line with Anna.
– we were right at the top of a hill and the 3:45 pacer was just near us… I had no intention of placing myself in this pace group and knew without a doubt I would never finish that quickly but there was no chance of me starting my biggest journey to date at the bottom of a bloody hill, so this is where I stayed!
– we sang the national anthem (probably be getting a call from Australia’s got talent soon!), and listened to the announcer start the wheelchair marathon.
– I rang Kloe and Megan from the start line to say we were about to start, checked my message from dad which made me start crying and before I knew it …..
5-4-3-2-1 holy s**t…. I am about to run a freaking marathon!
A few thoughts here as we slowly plodded to the actual start line (3 minutes it took)
* can I actually do this?
* did I double knot my laces?
* there is a lot of people.🏃👬👭👬🏃👭👬👬👫🏃🚶👭👭👭👬👫🏃
* I hope Andrew is keeping his eye on Mahli. 👀
* did I drink enough water yesterday.
* I think I need a pee.
* Of course I can do this, it’s only 5km more than my longest run.
* Jesus this zip lock bag is annoying me, I’m gonna have to carry it.😩
* remember to pace yourself! don’t get caught up in the rush.
Hit the start line, start the watch and here we go…
1-3km TRUST THE TRAINING – that amazing sound of thousands of pairs of shoes hitting the bitumen, it’s like heavy steady rain on the roof at night… I just love it. The sun was up as we started (rather late I thought) at 7:20, the air was fresh but the most beautiful clear morning. We crossed a long bridge and headed left towards the waterfront.
I got comfortable on the left hand side of the road, right in the edge where nobody can get on the inside of me. I just feel better running here not in the middle of the crowd. I don’t think I passed anyone! Lots of people steadily going past me though and I started thinking maybe I was really slow but checking my pace I was right where I needed to be. The plan was to stay between 5:30 and 6:00 minutes per km pace. I knew from my long runs that I could sit here comfortably and that what I needed to do to finish this without stopping. A friend who runs had given me a hint ‘don’t get caught up in the crowd, there will be plenty of people passing you but you will steadily pick them off as they tire in the end!’….. Time will tell.
5km FAMILY MEANS EVERYTHING– I knew Andrew and mahli were going to be around the 5 km mark directly opposite McDonald’s. As I was heading down the road I could see the Golden Arches in the distance and started scanning the side for my familiar faces. I actually thought I would miss them – they would have either been lured into Maccas for pancakes or knowing my luck it would be the exact minute mahli would need the toilet! No… Suddenly I spot the cutest little blondie sitting on the garden edge clapping at runners and looking straight past me! I yelled out “MAHLI!!” And started waving my arm off, she looked at me and Andrew yelled out “there she is!”
I reached out to high five my girl and got the biggest rush. This is the first of any of my runs that Andrew had come to watch, I hoped he watched with pride. It was at this point that I decided to high five every kid I could. If they were willing (or forced by parents) to stand beside the road for hours cheering on complete strangers then the least I could do is show some love! ✋
5-9km SUNRISE ON SURFERS– nothing overly eventful happened in the next few km. the road was beautifully wide and there wasn’t the crazy dodging and shuffling that can happen in a crowded run. My main feelings along here was that I was jealous of the people sitting in cafés having delicious breakfasts watching the run. I had a gel at 5km and washed it down with endura at the water station. This is something I continued every 5km – some type of fuel, either jelly beans, gel or energy bar pieces and I made sure to have water and endura at every station, even if I didn’t feel like I needed it. 🍬
9km FEELING IMPORTANT– here are my crazy supporters, decked out in massive orange tutus on their heads that look like big Mohawks, bright orange zinc, orange pom poms and very loud voices! This is an awesome feeling, I don’t really remember what they were yelling but I know I grinned from ear to ear and felt so proud. It’s the biggest rush when running to have people there just for you! I went past waving and yelling back (once again I have no idea what?) and by the time I got 100m down the rd the high wore off pretty quick when I realised that was it, I was on my own until I would see them again at 29/30km. That’s about a half marathon away!
9-15km this stretch of the run was a mixture, partly narrow alley type road ( I loved this section for some reason), partly along road beside water and partly through some streets housing very stunning mansions. I pretty much put the iPod in and just concentrated on my music and the people around me. There were already a few casualties of runners stopping to stretch sore muscles and still the occasional runner going past me. I did notice though that I was starting to overtake a few myself. The elite runners came past the other way somewhere in this stretch and I knew they were approaching as the crowd of runners in front of me suddenly erupted in applause and cheers – these guys are freaks! Absolutely inspiring! 🏃💨
15km MENTAL CHECKPOINT 1- burleigh heads turn around. This was the first checkpoint I had in my mind. The southern most point of the run then head right back to the start and north. I was feeling good still, pace had been steady the whole time and as I went through the timer I saw that my splits were even and where I thought I should be. (it was taking me 1/2 hr to do each 5km split). Another gel, more endura. These gels feel so naughty.. I made sure I chose flavours I loved like vanilla bean, espresso, choc mint and chocolate. Yum yum yum! After finishing my drink at each station I would crumple my cup and try and throw it in the bins provided… I might as well tell you now I missed EVERY bin! Yep seriously.. At least 6-8 attempts I had, maybe more! Each time I would say something like ‘oh shit I missed’ or ‘lucky I am a runner not a basketballer!’ and each time someone around me would laugh. It felt good to give my fellow runners a little comedy in a painful journey.
15-21km THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS– the best thing about hitting the 15k mark, apart from it being my first mental checkpoint, is that this is the first part of the race where i could really get a feeling of how far in the crowd I was. Despite feeling like I had been passed by thousands of people in the first few km I was stoked when I turned around and was confronted by a thick sea of runners that were all behind me…. I wasn’t last after all! I felt in a good groove through here and loved looking at my surroundings, taking in the beach views, listening to the chants of the supporters, high fiving all the kiddies and watching other runners, I will be completely honest here and admit that I do judge people running.. . Not intentionally, but I do find my self thinking random thoughts like “oh he looks beggared” “gee she’s doing good for an oldie” “awwwww I am sure she will have some bad chaffe with those pants on” “wow she looks like a really comfortable runner” “yuck, did he really just blow his nose into his hand?” “Well that’s an awkward looking stride”…. Of course you can’t judge someone’s running ability by their age, the way they dress or how comfortable they look. We are all hitting this road for our own reasons and goals.
21km POSITIVES AND NEGATIVES– yes!!! I am halfway through this journey! I reach back to give my granddads badge a bit if a rub and ask him to help me through this…. No badge! I felt all around my hip where I had it pinned and lifted up my top to make sure it wasn’t caught up but the reality set in…. Somewhere in the last 2hrs and 21km I had lost grandad. My heart sank and the tears started flowing. I ALWAYS have granddads badge on a long run, how am I gonna do it without him? It was only a minute or so and I thought to myself ‘suck it up, it’s gone, there is nothing you can do. Is this really going to stop you achieving this?… NO WAY!’ Besides grandad would still be guiding me.
21-29km DEJAVU– this section is just a repeat of what I have already run, there Are more families and kids out cheering and along surfers paradise it’s so exciting with the public all out soaking up the sun and having breakfast. There are bands and music, the beach looks amazing, there is just a real sense of pride.. Like I am involved in something pretty special. I can’t wait to hit the 29km where I am expecting to see my people again.
29-31km HIGH ON SUPPORT– I am running towards the long bridge that began this whole journey and on the right hand side of the road I see a big orange head…. It’s Megan!! I couldn’t see anyone else and was a bit confused what what going on, then she started jogging beside me asking how I was going, how I was feeling and being really encouraging and supportive. Then I realised she had left the others to jog a bit with me, here was all the rest of them… Mahli ran out to high five me, Kloe and Andrew were yelling out (can’t remember what, but no doubt something encouraging) Phil was yelling too but I can’t print his words! Kloe, mahli and Megan cut the corner and met me at the start of the bridge again and ran on the footpath alongside me (but about 30 metres away). This was so exciting, I was feeling so proud of how far I had come and was loving having these guys cheering for me! We were yelling back and forward to each other and laughing and waving And fist pumping and then they were gone…… I looked at my watch and realised my pace was way too fast here! They had boosted me and run beside me and I got the best surge of energy but I had to chill…. Now is where the marathon really starts, 12km to still go, no more support groups that were just for me. It’s was just me and the road from here. I had a little chat to myself And said ‘ok, this is a short Saturday run, that’s all it is, you got this!’ Music in.. Focus!
32km BITTERSWEET SURROUNDINGS– at this point of the race we go past the start line area, it’s where the crowds are thick again and the runners that are coming the other way are veering into the finishing chute. There is a great sense of achievement here, we have come a long way, there are people finishing and there are supporters, camera crews, helicopters in the air, man talking to runners over the loudspeakers…. It’s hard to actually believe I Am involved in it, not just watching it. The drink station here also have gels available for runners to grab if they need, this is so cool, endura have sponsored the event and the amount they give is outstanding. I had one of my own gels left but grabbed 3 on the way past anyway…. Hey nobody turns down a freebie! I wasn’t going to muck around trying to get them into my armbands so i put them in the waistband of my pants. It was starting to get pretty hot now and I could feel my skin really getting hot and sweating lots.
It was exciting to see people heading down the finishing chute on the other side of the road but at the same time very draining. I remember saying to a random running friend I had never met (that’s how I thought of them all) ‘ geez I wish I was on that side of the road right now’ he replied ‘we will be there before you know it’ – think he was in denial!
32-37km NO BEARINGS– the run through here was a part of the Gold Coast I am not familiar with at all. I knew I had about 5km to head north then turn around. It was this part where people started dropping like flies, now I don’t mean to sound negative but this is exactly how it was. Before this I noticed a few walkers but here every third person seemed to slow down and walk. I saw one guy, very fit looking, laying in somebody’s driveway with his leg in the air crying out in pain and stretching. It made me think.. Jesus I am doing ok. Not long after this I watched a lady veer off to the left and start vomiting, I quickly looked away, not needing the negative thoughts in my own head!
Yes- my friend with the advice right back at the start was right, one by one I slowly started passing people and rarely somebody went past me.
Lots and lots of people walking here and I just tried to stay focused and not take any notice of them. I would like to have been one of those people that grabbed somebody’s arm and encouraged them to keep going, or patted someone on the back and said ‘ you got this’ but honestly… I was just remaining focused on not listening the occasional thought that crept in about having a little walk. Every little bend In the road ahead was like a mirage, I would think that must be the turn around! Only when I got closer I saw the sea of people still running.. Haha… Guess I could have just checked my watch to see how much further I had to go but at the time I didn’t even think of it.
37km MENTAL CHECKPOINT NUMBER 3! oh thank god! I finally hit the turnaround at 37km.. Now it was all down hill, well not technically, but this was the home run. Only 5km to go. I was so excited and started saying to myself ‘oh my god, I am gonna finish this, I can actually see the end in sight, I am gonna be ok!’ Then it hit me that 37km was the longest I had ever run, can I really do this? I remember thinking I was really shuffling along here not really running well but when I checked my watch I was still holding the same pace as I had for the whole race. That surprised and elated me.
It was just after the 37km mark that I decided I needed to phone a friend… I rang Kloe and told her where I was and that I was ok, tough going but I was gonna finish if it killed me. Her words were cutting in and out and I know she had lots of trouble understanding me because I was running and panting but just knowing she was on the other end of the line was enough for me.
37-41km- DID THIS EVEN HAPPEN? I actually can’t remember this point of the run.. I can vividly picture the scenery but have no recollection of how I was feeling or suffering! I think I just mentally shut it all out and put one foot in front of the other. Guess it worked for me.
41-42km THE BEGINNING OF THE END– hitting the last straight of road, seeing the end in sight was just amazing… There were massive markets along the left hand side of the road and there were barriers separating the spectators from the road. Not one spot of these barriers were bare, there were hundreds and hundreds of people hanging over them shouting encouraging words clapping and cheering. Lots of people called me by name ‘go Tash’ ‘ looking good Tash, you can do it!’ I am so glad I opted to have my name in my race bib, it made those personal cheers feel really really good! I wasn’t just a number, I had a place here and I belonged! The finish Shute was approaching and I was sticking to the left of the road, right near the gutter where it was shady and I could still high five all the kids. Just before I veered left into the finishing area a lady yelled out “C’mon Tash, 250metres to go, you can do it, your so close” I wanted to punch this lady right in the face! I don’t know her, will never know who she was but I just wanted to knock her out. What the hell would she know! I feel bad for those thoughts now.
From 42km we had to run through the finishing Shute. There are high barricades on either side and no real crowds, I could hear the supporters up ahead and the guys commentating the run. I really put on the fastest pace I could, I was leaving everything on the track. I felt like I was sprinting my heart out but in reality it wasn’t much faster than my average race pace. I did pass quite a few people through here but I didn’t for one second think about ‘beating those people’ … I was merely trying to get over that line as quick as I could! The Shute opened up and there were grandstands on either side, I looked up and saw the big crazy orange heads, jumping up and down and yelling! I could feel the tears welling up and a massive lump in my throat… BOOM- I did it…!
I RAN A MARATHON
I RAN THE WHOLE THING
I DIDNT STOP ONCE
I RAN A BLOODY MARATHON!!!
slowing down to a walk on the other side of the finish line I turned and said congratulations to a complete stranger beside me, we were both grinning and wobbling on our feet and I thought s**t what was my time? Looking back at the big timer above the finish line it said 4:11…. That’s brilliant. I am super stoked and beyond proud of myself.
Looking around there were people hugging, stretching, high fiving, laying in the grass, just so many different things going on. I had a very quick stretch and made my way through the people to the post race recovery area, I grabbed a cup of orange slices and a banana (I really thought I was so hungry,) a bottle of water and rang Kloe to see where they were. I was a bit dazed thinking ‘is that it, is it actually over?’ Heading to the runners exit area I was given a shirt and a medal was placed around my neck.. I shed a few tears and thanked the ladies there about a thousand times!! This medal means more to me than they will ever know.
Leaving the runners area I was greeted with a very excited Kloe, Megan, Phil and Megan’s parents. They all hugged me and congratulated me, I was just so thankful that they took that much time out of their lives to be there for me and support me!
Andrew and Mahli missed the end of the run but I wasn’t upset because it was a really long morning for Mahli and she was exhausted (ok, so was Andrew!) They weren’t far away at a playground in the shade. I peeled my banana and took a bite but quickly realised I was not gonna get that down, was feeling quite nauseous. It didn’t last long and I just sipped on my water while we walked the 6km back to the hotel.
So there it is… My marathon story (ok.. Novel!). It will be a day I remember fondly for the rest of my life. The highs, the lows, the love and support of friends and family, the random strangers, the community spirit, the post race mammoth appetite… Everything.
One last thing-
> my official time ended up being 4:08:41
> my legs were really great that afternoon and the next day
> my areas of pain post race were *very dry sore lips *chaffe under left breast from carrying phone in crop top *scratches and skin off hip from gels rubbing there *some weird pain between two toes on left foot. I think I got out of it pretty lightly!
> If you ever get the inkling to run a marathon, just bite the bullet and do it. If I can train myself, be a mum, work part time and still survive then anyone can do it!
> will I ever do it again? If you asked me as I crossed the finish line I would have said No chance! If you asked me one minute later I would (and still) answer.. NEVER SAY NEVER!