I am writing this from a very deep, very warm Radox bath... Overshare? Perhaps, but it feels amazing!
My first marathon... Run and done!
I have aches, I have pains, I have a shiny silver medal.
I woke up this morning at my favourite hour, 3am. I had slept but it had been that horrible kind if sleep where you toss & turn and your brain refuses to switch off. I had breakfast and checked through all of my gear for the millionth time and woke Danny up at 4 so we could be on the road by 4:30.
It was still dark when we arrived at the start line, an hour before the gun. I used the portaloos at least four times (I am the worst for that!), did some stretching and basically tried to psyche myself up for a good run. Danny and I got a bit star-struck when he spotted Cathy Freeman who was there to run the marathon too. She had been all ready to line up at the for the NYC Marathon and I couldn't help but think she must have thought that this comparatively tiny race was a very poor substitute.
Before I knew it, it was time to line up with what the announcer claimed was 400 other
bat-shit crazy eager marathoners.
Don't let my calm exterior fool you (*snort*), I was crapping myself!
The first few kilometres were laps of Cadbury Estate and in all the excitement I found myself going too fast, hitting 5:30min/km when I was aiming for around 6:30min/km. I managed to rein it in somewhat by the time we headed out to the main part of the course.
The course was two out and back loops... Every runners favourite! I just love spending a huge chunk of the race watching all the people who are kilometres ahead of you loping along!
The first ten or so kilometres were hilly but uneventful. I found a rhythm and took my first walk/GU break as planned. As I slowed to a walk I noticed an unusually large pack of runners pass me. The biggest group I had seen had been three or four strong but this one had eight to ten people, like a mini pacing mob! Then I realised that in amongst it all was none other than Cathy Freeman! Holy buckets! I had been in front of a gold medal Olympian for 10km!! Even better, we hit a hill a few kilometres later and I regained my lead until kilometre eighteen when I had to stop for the much dreaded but inevitable (for me) toilet stop and I lost her to the crowds.
I still feeling strong (and much more comfortable) after my pit stop and I was buoyed by the knowledge that Danny was waiting for me at the halfway mark.
I'm sure he was full of regret at agreeing to be my official cheer squad when I greeted him with this face!
Even better, his Dad and sister had joined him as a surprise! Although I was already feeling pretty good it boosted my mood even further having my own little group of hooters and hollerers on the sidelines.
I switched out my water bottle for a fresh one that had a new stock of GU Gel and a clean, non-sweaty hanky and I was on my way again.
I continued down the road a bit further before hitting the turnaround mark for lap two - the race lay out was very strange, the first loop was longer than the second. This worked well because it meant I got to see my personal cheersquad again a few kilometres later. I also spotted my cousin tearing up a hill for the half and my uncle busting out some incredible speed for the full (he came 29th!!)
I was also keeping an eye out for my workmate who was doing her first half. She'd had some issues with her knees in the weeks before the race so I wanted to make sure she wasn't doing it too tough. I finally spied her, asked how her knees were going (to which she replied 'They are f**ked' - no one is particularly eloquent in those moments!) I wished her the best and kept pushing on.
Apparently it had been a great distraction trying to keep an eye out for my workmate because once I'd seen her I began to notice how heavy my legs felt. The GU at 27km didn't seem to be having much effect and I started to get worried about the unknown 10km... My training had only taken me up to 32km and I was quickly approaching that point.
Around 30km the heaviness started to turn into a crampy feeling all through my thighs. I prayed for it to pass but instead it travelled south to my calves and ankles. I chugged an electrolyte drink in the hopes that it would not get any worse but just before I hit the biggest hill of the entire course an giant cramp shot through my left leg. My foot contorted out on a weird angle and forced me to slow to a walk. I was almost at 32km and apparently I was going into the unknown with a nice case of the leg spasms.
I really had no idea what to do. I had dealt with some mild leg cramps in training but nothing like this and certainly not with 10km to go. I found that I could run about 500m at best before a cramp would cause me to walk for about that again.
I checked my pace band (which I had amended by the way!) and knew I had to kiss my 4:30 goal goodbye and I was seriously doubting my B Goal of 4:45... I had basically resigned myself to a 5:00 plus finish.
I spent the last 5km watching the couple in front of me. She was clearly struggling as much as I was. Her partner was very patiently trotting beside her, rubbing her back supportively. It made me long for the finish line so I could see Danny even more. Turns out 42km can get pretty lonely when you are really struggling!
At long last, I passed the 41km sign and I entered the final stretch towards the finish line which was (cruelly) on top of a hill. By some miracle, my legs cramped less when I attempted to run up hill so I gave it my all. I felt awful passing the couple with the struggling lady because she was really trying so hard that I felt it rude somehow to 'beat' her but it was every man for himself by that point! As I entered to finishing chute I saw not only Danny, his Dad and his sister but also a lady from work who had come out and battled the awful traffic to watch me cross the finish line. How sweet!
I made sure to stomp on both of the timing mats to ensure my time was recorded (unlike last year) and I was met by a race volunteer who told me I looked fresh as a daisy... I assured her I felt far from 'flowery'!
The finishing area was a whirlwind of activity, handing back my timing chip, getting my medal and goodie bag and then meeting up with my little cheer squad.
All I knew was that my legs were shot, and it felt better to stand than to sit. I chugged a box of chocolate soy milk and some GU Brew and then took some triumphant 'I Did It!' photos before we headed to the car where my much anticipated cinnamon buns were waiting.
It wasn't until we got home that I truly realised that it was all done. There had been a few points during the run that I was convinced it was never going to end but here I was, medal in one hand, plate of lasagne in the other! After a short walk to the cafe for my much needed coffee (they gave it to me for free when they found out I'd finished a marathon that morning!) we came home and I spent the afternoon eating too much and lounging around watching movies. Danny continued to be the best husband in the world, running me a cold bath to ease my sore legs, getting me everything I needed all afternoon and even rubbing my poor feet.
Husband of the Year!
The official finish times went live on the website this evening. I tentatively opened the page and searched for my name... And there I was along with my time -
I missed both my A and B goals but considering I was convinced I would go over 5 hours I am more than happy with my time. Thank goodness too because I'm not keen to go back to try and improve on it any time in the forseeable future!! I am most definitely a half marathon gal!
Spa Day and Mexican dinner tomorrow... That's much more my 'pace'!
Thanks to everyone that left messages and emails of support! Believe me when I say that thinking of your kind words got me through some of the tougher moments of the run. This truly is a wonderful and supportive community that I consider myself very lucky to be a part of!