At the beginning of the year I put together a wish list of all the events I wanted to complete in 2013.
The list wasn’t just thrown together – it was specifically designed around having me in peak fitness for the Yeppoon 70.3 in August, anything after that date was dreaming.
I held off entering anything after the triathlon as I honestly wasn’t sure how I would pull up and when I saw that the early bird entries for the Blackmores Half Marathon closed on the same day as the half ironman I was certain that I would miss out on a place in the run, but I simply couldn’t commit to getting to Sydney.
I was then very lucky and was invited to run in the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival Half Marathon as a guest of Blackmores. This came as a HUGE surprise and also relief – it meant that I could accept the spot, and if by chance I did break down in the half ironman I wouldn’t risk losing my entry fee.
As it would happen my concerns about breaking down were (thankfully) untrue, and I was able to head down to Sydney last weekend feeling fabulous. I hadn’t done too much in the way of training between the 2 events. Between Worm being sick, transitioning to the big bed, and my general lack of mojo I hadn’t really spent any time focusing on the event at all – I think I was so excited about the night away from my family that it offset any nerves I had about having to run 21.2km at 6.15am Sunday.
My flights to Sydney were uneventful, I got to stop, read a book and enjoy the hospitality of the airline. After all the travelling with Worm I had completely forgotten how relaxing it can be to simply get onto a plane solo.
Saturday afternoon Mum & I caught the train to the city to check out the event expo, do a bit of shopping and continue the relaxation that I had started that morning.
The usual Saturday night pasta dinner went down brilliantly and then it was early to sleep for Mum & I.
When the alarm went off at 4.30am on Sunday I was up and rolling. Mum had come prepared with WeetBix and bananas for our breakfast, and as we wandered down to the start line I was as ready as I could be. I felt no pressure for this race, just to make it to the start felt amazing, and my only goal was to run with purpose. I really wanted to beat my time from last year (2hrs 26min), and internally I was aiming for a 2hr 15min half marathon time.
I was planning on taking a drink at each water stop, have a Dextro liquid gel at 5km, 11km & then have a gel if I needed it at the end. Even as I was planning this I was amazed at how far I have come in the past 12 months – last year I didn’t have any fuel on board, instead tried to grab a jelly bean to get me by!
From the start I felt strong. I gently pulled away from mum (actually this happened a lot faster than I thought, as usually I am the one trailing her). As I made it over the bridge I allowed myself to wallow in the moment, I looked over at the opera house & thought “I’ll see you later” and I spent time looking around myself.
Running in any event this big is fantastic for people watching. I was surrounded by all types big, small, stinky, stylish, unco, fluid, all different people from different backgrounds with different goals, we all had the same goal though – to get through the next 21.1km. There is something about running, I can’t quite put the words to it – but you are never alone, here I was in a field of thousands of strangers and I didn’t feel alone I felt safe & secure that I was among like minded people.
As I made my way around the course, the thought of stopping crossed my mind occasionally, but I was able to push it away fairly easily, focusing instead on my surroundings, and trying to maintain good form. I skipped the first drink station, I didn’t want to get caught up in that rush, and with the Sydney weather being about 10 degrees cooler than I was used to I was feeling great.
I settled into an easy stride, and was occasionally glancing at my splits, I knew I was running around 6 minute kms, but more importantly to me, I was running effortlessly. It wasn’t work, it was fun. I pushed up the hills, and tried to stretch out on the flats, picking up some time as I went. My dodgy foot screamed at me some times, my hip flexors talked at others, and on one partially strange occasion my left rib thought I needed to know about it as well, but still I ran.
I grabbed water at each of the drink stations, barely breaking stride it seamed, I found a good strategy of running past the early tables of water on the far right side of the traffic, and then ducking across for the last water table – this kept my pace up and I avoided the traffic jams around the tables. My hat has to go off to all the volunteers and organizers – considering the huge number of people coming around the course they worked fast and efficiently to keep water up to us, and to keep the roads clear of discarded water cups.
As I hit the 18km sign I felt amazing, I was able to slightly improve my pace, and I noticed I was passing more people. There was one man who I had being leapfrogging with through the whole race, he would speed up pass me, I would keep plodding and then he would stop and I would pass him. As we hit Circular Quay, I called out to him walking – ‘come on mate – we can do this’ he wasn’t keen to run then though, so I just kept going.
A quick look at my watch as I came past the 20km mark saw that I was running well, I was within a whisker of my goal time, but I knew I would have to put my foot down to scrape in under the 2.15 goal I had set. I started sprinting with no abandon -I was going to leave it all out on course, I was not going to have any regrets about this race.
It felt like I was blitzing past people – I had to jump dropped water bottles, and ducked in and out of other competitors as I ran around the boardwalk, as I crossed the line I jumped as high as I could. I was thrilled, I stopped my watch and it was 2.14.30. I had done it! I had run 21.1km with care, efficiency, followed my race plan and finished within the time I had allowed myself. I can’t describe how empowering this was to me.
I walked through and gratefully took the bottle of water, and power aid from the volunteer- again these people were AMAZING, the man who gave me my water smiled & said something along the line of “dude you just ran a half marathon!” The atmosphere at this event is electric, there are SO many people, supporters, competitors, volunteers – everyone was smiling and the finish line was so much fun. I quickly moved through the crowds to the grassed area so I could stretch out a bit. I didn’t know where my mum was – I didn’t want to call her, so I called The Farmer instead. Talking to him & Worm was so wonderful – I do miss them when I have a big event, but talking to them on the phone immediately after was just as good (without having to carry the 12kg Worm!)
I caught up with Mum after a short wait, she had run the end with one of her friends and did brilliantly, they have a great photo running together, and I think it is great to be able to share that experience. I am so blessed to be able to run with my mum. Its always a highlight of any visit to her, as I know that she will push me both in the pace, distance and mentally to keep up. These are all good things!
Before long it was time to head back to the hotel for a shower and then to board the plane to head back north & home. My body was aching, my hip flexors, and foot was very tender, and it felt like I had to physically lift my legs up each step to get onto the plane. I was SO happy. I knew that I had run the best race I could have and I had achieved my goal time as well. There were no regrets, and also no chance of running the next day!
My next major event will probably be Mooloolaba Triathlon, until then I will be sticking close to home, participating in local races and events to keep my fitness up. My plans for 2014 haven’t been considered yet – at this stage I am happy to just live in the moment and enjoy each step of the way.
Thank you to Blackmores for inviting me to run in the Sydney Running Festival. I probably wouldn’t have entered if it wasn’t for their support. I am now using the My Blackmores program and have already accessed their free naturopath service to ensure I’m getting the right nutrients for my body.
If you’re looking for a little more motivation to help achieve your goals- check out the #littlelesslittlemore hashtag on twitter and make your commitment here today.