Yesterday I ran my 5th full marathon – the Gold Coast Marathon.
This time last year my son was 2 months old and my goal before he was born was to give birth, and then when allowed to: get back into my running and train to run a marathon and I did it!
RunStopShop fuelled my challenge by inviting me to choose a marathon in Australia I wanted to run and they would support me which they did. So I had no excuse to not do it right! If you have been following my blog for a while you will know that I decided upon the Gold Coast Airport Marathon and was also invited to be one of their Advocates – meaning I got to speak at their Legends Lunch too.
So it’s been a whirlwind of a weekend.
Garmin Legends Lunch
I was so nervous before the lunch. The thought of getting up in front of 300 people including elite athletes and talking about my journey was terrifying. My friend Nadia coaxed me into the room and my legs went to jelly when I saw the MC for the day Channel 7’s Sunrise Sports presenter Mark Beretta. But you know it was actually great and I got to meet one of my Twitter Friends Scott and also to meet some amazing people including Steve Moneghetti, Rob De Costella, Benita Willis, Lee Troop and other RunStopShop Ambassador Portia Large.
Being on the stage was a blur and I vaguely remember saying about being in labour and telling my husband I was going to run a marathon and people laughing but other than that I was quite nervous so don’t remember much, but after the event a few people came up and said they really resonated with what I had said and I was really touched.
Then it was off to the Expo to collect my race pack and to get my foot strapped for one final time by Doug at InTraining. Just getting my race number made me nervous and I am so glad Nadia was with me as I might have been tempted to run at that point. The guys at Intraining have been great helping me with my foot. I really thought a couple of months back that I might not even be able to run because of my whopping blister that caused a whole load of problems but foot got strapped and I was ready to go.
The night before
I was quite anxious the night before the race. It suddenly hit me that the next day I was going to run another marathon and I was concerned I might not make it. Lots of positive affirmations later and I was laying out my clothes. Nadia and I went for a walk to find some food; and a pizza, loads of water and garlic bread later I was stuffed. We went to bed just after 9pm and I had had the hotel set a call for 4am as RunStopShop’s Simon wanted me at the start for 5am so I could get a pic with Portia before her race! My race didn’t start until 7.20 so I figured I’d go to the hospitality pavilion after which the Gold Coast Marathon team had kindly given me access to as an Advocate.
The big day
So the alarm went and I had a whinge to Nadia about the time and then eventually hauled myself out of bed. I had a terrible nights sleep mainly just because I was so nervous. Got ready, managed to force myself to eat my porridge and Nadia drove me to as close as we could get – I don’t know how she kept her cool as I was stressed beyond stressed.
Raced to find 99 Bikes which was where I was meeting Simon and Portia and we went to get our photo taken – it was crazy at this point – people everywhere, queues for toilets, people pinning on badges etc. We walked Portia to her start line and then it was off to chill in the hospitality pavilion which was great – no queues for toilets, water, food (although I just had a banana) and a perfect view of the finish line….I saw the winner come in and then had to go to my start line – a nervous wreck at this point.
The start of the race was a bit of a blur. I got my watch ready and waited for the start to happen. They were a minute or so late and then it all kicked off. I was a bit back so it took a couple of minutes to get over the start line and then I was off! I tried to keep an even pace and not race off at the start and just keep things steady so I was constantly looking at my watch to get a good rhythm and to ensure I wasn’t going too fast. I found at about 3k suddenly my foot started hurting where the strapping was and I really thought I would have to stop but then it seemed to calm down and disappeared completely.
The heat was a bit of an issue as our race didn’t start until 7.20am and it was actually quite warm. I was very thankful for training later at lunch times and as late as I could in training to make sure I was ok with the heat. I did see some people going down from the heat throughout the race however 😦
I took an energy gel 20 minutes before the race and then once the race started every 50 minutes afterwards so things were going ok and I felt pretty good. I saw one of my friends Maria at the 8k mark and that gave me a real lift.
I got to 21k and thats when things started to hurt. I felt a bit nauseous and suddenly my stomach was not feeling so great and I got stitch. I slowed down and pushed through it but then howled out in pain and had to walk. A lovely girl came up and stopped running to check I was ok and gave me some encouraging words to push through the stitch and then I was back running again.
Then it happened again and I at that point felt like I just wanted to quit. I was crying at one of the water stations but something in me just said – you cannot quit. You have waited and trained so long for this just suck it up and push on. A guy who had been ahead of me and then following me came up and put his hand on my shoulder and comforted me and then I was off again and fine.
I loved the views by the sea. The Gold Coast is a truly beautiful landscape and the breeze from the sea was wonderful. The course was nice and flat bar a very slight incline towards Runaway Bay. It was a psychological battle once we got to the sections where the faster athletes were coming down the road the opposite way and you realised how far you had to run to get to where they were – but I think I shut down for a while and just got on with it.
I got to just before 30k and things were a struggle but I just focussed and told myself – get to 30k come on and then get to 35k and then when you get to 37k you only have 5k left and then at 40 only 2! So I pushed on.
As I was approaching just over 39.5k I could see the 40km sign way up ahead (I’m long sighted!) and I needed a breather and figured I would walk this last bit and then run the rest of the way to the finish. I spotted a guy who looked in trouble and I walked with him. I said to him – “you see that sign up there – that is the 40km mark.” He looked at me as if to say – yes so what? and I said “when we get to that sign we are going to run to the finish.” He kind of looked at me as if to say ‘ yeah ok. We reached 40km and he looked at me and I said “come on – go and get to that finish line!” and he ran like crazy and I never saw him again – so I am confident he finished!
That’s what I love about the running community – people help you; you help them. I ran pretty much the rest of the way and got to 41k, stopped and had a bit of a cry and then carried on. It was a cry of sheer relief that I only had 1k to go and I was going to finish. As I carried on more and more people appeared – and a lot of them. I pushed on and actually saw one of my friends Karen – she had done the half marathon earlier – she hadn’t seen me. I tapped her on the arm said “hey” and then I took off – that was my trigger to finish and I sprinted like a mad woman. Right at the finish my husband and son were there and my husband said “you did amazing” and I just cried and hobbled through the exit section.
What an experience! I haven’t really talked about time – as for me it was never about the time. It was about coming back to running after not training for a while because of being pregnant and showing myself and other people that you can do anything you put your mind to if you believe in yourself. I finished the race in 4:35 which I was really pleased with because I never even thought I would get to the finish line at one point.
I’m so thankful for all the support I have had both online and offline and the people I have met through this amazing journey – you are all very special 🙂
So what now?
I’m having a rest today but I am planning to do some walking and maybe a short run at the weekend and then the next thing on the calendar is the Bridge to Brisbane 🙂 See you there?