Running a marathon is a huge step. It takes a lot of training and commitment, and most of us will remember reaching the finish line for the rest of our lives. It is a true testament of one’s resilience and strength, of giving it a go and never giving up. This is Ricci’s story.
After a big year in 2015 completing numerous half marathons, I decided to take the plunge and train for a full. I decided on Cadbury Marathon in Hobart for a few reasons; it was likely to be cooler weather in Hobart and I was keen to complete it sooner rather than later as I didn’t want to place too much emphasis on the event and get overly stressed. I am so glad I choose Cadburys, it was an amazing experience!
My training progressed from half marathon mileage upwards to 24km and 26km without any problem. I was able to keep about a 5:30 km/min pace. However, once I got to 30km I could not maintain that pace. Negativity with my training set in. I ran 30km twice, both of them I was in struggle town. My training was interrupted by heat waves and Christmas events and I was not feeling confident about the marathon at all. If I hadn’t already booked flights and accommodation in Hobart I would have pulled out. The week before the marathon, I knew I just had to be mentally tough. I prepared mantras, new music playlists and downloaded podcasts about first time marathon stories. I visualised and listed to a podcast with a mental skills coach. I knew my success would be down to my mental toughness on the day. I was aiming for a time between 4:15 and 4:30.
I flew to Hobart on Friday morning and the moment I touched down, I loved everything about it! Hobart is a beautiful city! I did some sightseeing, but not too much to wear me out. Erin Black, my travel buddy, and I had dinner with fellow RMAs, Judy Street and Karin Smith. We laughed and chatted, and I felt relaxed and happy. Saturday came and I went to Salamanca Markets and then rested for the rest of the day.
Sunday morning came, after about 3 hours sleep, we woke at 4am to catch the bus to Cadburys. I was nervous, but luckily not crazily nervous, really all thanks to Erin’s company.
We missed the 5am bus, we made it with only just enough time to go to the toilet and then I ran to the start line and we were off! I ran the first 3-4 km with another RMA, Peta, we chatted and I got into a comfortable 6 min pace from the start. I then chatted to another two girls and a couple of other blokes. The first 20km literally flew by and I was having fun! I waved and shouted out to RMA girls running the half, I looked out in particular for Erin, Judy, Karen and also Michelle Esdale.
At the turn around point I lost the other two girls and began the last 20 km or so solo. And so the mind games began! I listened to a podcast and looked out for any RMAs I could wave and shout out to. I had written on a piece of paper the mantras I had chosen and folded it into the pocket of my hydration vest. This alone was a huge source of comfort and I actually did not need to get out the paper at all.
At the 30km mark I put on music and that boosted my mood. I then looked out for any RMAs in the 10km event, waving and cheering each other along kept me going. I looked out for the girl I met on the bus, I chatted to an old school friend I randomly saw on course and also chatted to the girl who was behind me in the toilet queue. In fact, I was waving and saying hi and cheering so many people along the way, that a guy came up from behind me and asked in a South African accent, “Are you famous or something? Its impossible that one person could know so many people on the course!” In my fatigued state, I couldn’t be bothered explaining RMA and the vast group of women that belong to it, so I replied, “Yes, I’m a TV star!” And the very thought of that kept me amused for another kilometre or so!
It was an out and back course that the marathon runners repeated twice. The exact same lap the second time around was somehow more hilly! I found myself taking short walk breaks up crests of hills. At the 40km mark the sun broke through the clouds and it was hot. I only had 2km to go though so I didn’t care! The final hill up to Cadburys was huge (another hill that appeared out of no where!), but once I reached the top, I was running the last 100m to the finish line. I had done it, I was finished, I just ran my first marathon! In the official time of 4:17:54! I was tired and my muscles were sore, but I was happy!
I flew back to Melbourne that evening and my husband and children picked me up from the airport to drive me back to Ballarat. When I woke up on Monday morning, I couldn’t stop smiling! And looking at my medal! I love my medal! It has purple glittery 42.2 numbers!
So here are my conclusions about running a marathon: train hard, be realistic with your goal time and prepare yourself mentally for the race. I had a blast in Hobart! And I loved running my first marathon! The RMA spirit helped me get across the line and I thank all the RMAs who were there. I would also highly recommend Cadbury Marathon, it was well organised and a good sized, friendly event – not too big. And really, lets be honest, do it for no other reason than the free chocolate at the end!
By Ricci McGreevy