My first half marathon by Melissa Flentjar (Run Melbourne)

Sunday 26th of July 4.30am. My alarm was buzzing, I snoozed it twice as I no longer had to go and pick up my biggest supporter Rosie along the way. I had made the call the night before and told me friends and family to stay home, keep dry and warm ‘I’d be right’ I told them. The forecast was rotten, 35 knot winds, the threat of rain, hail and thunder and Melbourne didn’t let us down. Apparently I had slept through a huge storm but  when I woke, it was clear and looked like it was going to be a rippa of a morning.

I dragged myself out of bed, looked at my gear and started to question myself. Why am I doing this? Today I run for my Dad, I run for Alzheimer’s Australia, I run for those who have lost their Memory. I had to do this, I’ve trained hard, I’ve done the distance, I’ve fuelled right …. I just needed to get to the start line!

I arrived in the city at 5.45am, I needed to wee AGAIN! Nerves had arrived but also a huge wave of excitement followed. Dani McLaren met me at my car and we walked to the steps of Flinders Street Station where there was a large gathering of RMA’s. It was such an awesome site to see. I said hello to those i’d met and wished those I didn’t the best of luck. I was chuffed – Women Support Women with one thing in common – RUNNING! We took a group picture and I instegated a fist pump and GO RMA by all. It was time!

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The walk to the start line seemed to go on forever, a group of us stopped at the loos again hehe and we heard some annoucements and stood where we needed to. I was in Wave C and was directed to the Shrine side of St Kilda Rd. I could see the start line on the Art Centre side and watched as the Elite’s and A’s headed off back toward Flinders Street. I was standing around chatting to others and listening to others stories when about 10 minutes later a cyclist came through our wave and yelled ‘Move to the side runners coming through” as the Elite’s had already made their way around Flinders St and South Bank and split Wave C from the Start Line. I was in total disbelief, how was I going to get across to the startline now with a stream of 6500 runners between me and the start! Officials stood around and had no idea what to do when a voice from behind me yelled “Come on guys whats your plan” he was right! How were they going to get us all to the startline?

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One person made a dash across, then another, then another and then a large group took a dive, then I made the dash! I’d made it and I didn’t injur myself or anyone else doing so. I had walked to within 2 meters of the startline and stopped. I was waiting for a start gun not realising the gun wasnt going to come, Dani yells out ‘Lets go Mel just run straight through’. I went to press my Garmin and had accidently pressed UPDATE NOW button …. *elevator music for 1 minute* with literally half a foot over the start line I was keen … lets get this show on the road and with the Garmin update finished I was off!!!

The first few kilomotres were pretty cruisy, I had settled into my pace and breathing rythem pretty early. About 3.5klm in I had arrived at Birdwood Avenue, a slow incline through to Domain Rd onto Toorak Rd and around to Anderson Street (6.5klm mark). I had decided to walk some of the rises to conserve energy. Anderson St is a b***h of a hill but we were going to have pleasure of going down it. Down I went and I had soon arrived Alexandra Ave where we had to do a 1.5klm dog leg. This was GREAT! I passed a few RMA’s, tapped them on the shoulder, told them they were doing great and continued. I looked for RMA’s on the other side, yelled at those who I spotted and gave them the big thumbs up! As I crossed over the Yarra, I knew the RMA support crew of Zoe Yoon, Michelle Esdale, Carin McCoy, Sarah Jefford and Caz Derby would be soon cheering me on! I had passed a few street buskers, thanked them for coming out to entertain us, but no Zoe and crew yet. They couldn’t be to far away! Under the Swan Street Bridge I went and back up to Batman Ave, as I came around the corner there they were, cow bells, cuddles, red snakes and smiles a plenty! I’d made 9.7klm.

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The course now took us through Flinders Park, around Rod Laver Arena, past the MCG, onto Wellington Street and back onto Flinders Street where magic happened. There were crowds of people. People lining the street, little kids yelling out for their loved ones, parents watching the achievements of the children, grandparents welling up at the sight if their grandchildren. I didn’t know anyone. I kept my head held high and focused when I started hearing “GO MELISSA” “GO MELISSA YOU CAN DO IT” I looked at these people and had no idea who they were but hey, they know me! “GO MELISSA” “COME ONE MELISSA” kept coming from the gathered crowds! I turned to Dani and said “Hey Dani, I have no idea who these people are but they know me!” I was chuffed! I wonder why Dani looked at me strange …. “Your name is on your Bib Mel”. We laughed and laughed and laughed! 13klm down!

Back on St Kilda Rd for a shorter loop 2. My mind started messing with me, I knew Birdwood Ave / Domain Rd inclines were coming around again. I sucked back an Endura Gel, had a swig of water and told myself that once I get to Anderson St it was downhill to the Yarra and not far from the finish. I walked some of the inclines and walked through the water stations. I knew what I had to do. I picked off a few people ahead of me. They became my focus, I needed to pass them, I did and it wasnt long before I was back on the Alexandra Avenue dog leg again. I didn’t look for RMA’s this time, I couldn’t yell. My quads were screaming, my breathing was becoming slightly eratic, but never did I think of giving up. I knew Zoe and Michelle were coming up. The bubbles blowing all over the pedestrain bridge across the Yarra now annoyed me. I was losing focus, I wanted to get to the end. I hadn’t been looking at my watch to much until I had got to the 20klm point. I wasn’t going to make it. I was angry, I was annoyed. I yelled out in frustation. I wasn’t going to make sub 2:15 which I need to qualify for Two Bays. I don’t know how, but I pulled myself together and told myself oh well, there’s always Melb Marathon for qualifying. My focus turned to Swan Street Bridge again, where I knew my biggest support and cheer squad would be waiting.

My breathing was becoming more eratic as I struggled to get air, Swan Street Bridge was meters away and as I passed under and came up the other side, all I could see was Michelle Esdale’s arms wide open running towards me. I’d done it! I’d made 20.5klm. My eyes felt like buckets spilling with tears, my heart was heavy for those who didnt come to see me run, my legs were aching from over 2 hours of running and my breathing became shallow and my chest felt heavy. Michelle’s warm embrace was just the rest I needed to carry on that last few hundred meters. I moved onto Zoe, Zoe was crying, Zoe was talking me through it and before I knew it we were entwined in this embrace – Women Supporting Women. They understood!

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I really don’t know what happened but something just made me run off. There was still the finish line! Dani talked me through to get my breathing back on track and before I knew it I was in the Fan Zone. I couldn’t hear a damn thing, all I could see was that finish line! I had to finish strong and I had to finish sub 2:20 I ran through that finish line (where does that extra energy come from?) and immediatley doubled over and thought I HAVE JUST RAN A HALF MARARTHON …… IVE DONE IT!!!!!!!

I couldnt get to the girls handing out the medals quick enough …. I was hungry for that medal! I wanted that token that showed everyone Id just finished the half marthon! I stayed at the finish line and watched a few more RMA’s finish strong, Amy, Heidi, Maria and a few others. It was a chilly 8 degrees and the artic wind whipping off the yarra was unbearable on my body! I made a beeline for my car where I woofed down two cheese and hummus rolls, put on some warm clothing, filled my pockets with some snacks and headed back to Swan Street Bridge to meet up with Zoe and the crew! We cheered on the 10k and 5klm runners and it wasnt before long I had turned into the frozen hangry half marathon runner that needed a good feed!

So there it is, my race re cap of The Age Run Melbourne – Brooks Half Marathon! An insight into the highs and lows, emotions and the support of friends and family of a first timer!

  • My offical time was 2:18:58
  • My mammoth appetite was supressed with smashed avo and poached eggs on sour dough
  • I didn’t suffer any injuries, blisters of chaffing
  • My legs were great post race and the few days after
  • I’m so thankful for the friendships I have gained through running
  • Would I do it again? I just received an email ‘2015 Medibank Melbourne Marathon Festival Registration Confirmation’
  • Favourite saying “When you are feeling exhausted and unable to go on, remember: your body can keep going. It’s only the voice in your head that wants to stop ”

Thanks for reading!

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3 responses to “My first half marathon by Melissa Flentjar (Run Melbourne)

  1. A great read! Thank you. It helped me remember so many details of the run, but your emotions make it special.

  2. This post made me smile so much. I loved it. I am fairly new to running and only able to run 7.5 km at the moment but working up to 10 km. Your story is inspiring and it is so nice to see a strong woman meet her goals and kick their @ss. Awesome achievement. Truly inspiring. Good luck on the next one!

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