Well, I did it! I ran a marathon. Never thought I would say I am a marathoner and in the last 14 weeks there were times I thought it would never happen but it’s done!
A group of us from Life Fit and other friends went down to Canberra last Friday. Some of our runners were running in the 10km event on the Saturday morning and it was great to watch them achieve amazingly fast times and the elation on their faces when they finished was priceless! It was good for all the runners running the next day in the half and full marathons to see the set-up of the race, where the start and finish lines were etc. It was also nerve wracking though, knowing that it would be us the next day waiting for the gun to go off and just wishing we too were finished and could go out and celebrate.
The next morning we were up at 4.30 am going through our pre run regime that has become second nature to us. I stuck with what I have been doing throughout our training. Had my porridge and chia seed drink and made sure the vasoline was applied to… well everywhere. I had laid out all my clothes the night before with the race bib attached, my gels were packed, music, headphones, I was all set.
Our start time was 6.25am and it was a lovely crisp morning in Canberra, perfect running conditions. My plan was to start off at my comfortable pace, not too slow but not too fast, I really had no expectations of time. My good goal was just to finish, my great goal was to finish without hitting the wall and my amazing goal was to finish in under 4 hours. As I was running I realised I had fallen in with the 3.45 pacer. They were running at my pace so I thought I would stick with them as long as I could and if I fell back I might still be able to get in under 4 hours. In the past I have tortured myself trying to monitor my pace and worrying if I was falling behind but having a pacer took away all that stress, it felt like our little bunch of runners were carrying each other along.
The Canberra course is actually really scenic which was a welcome distraction and parts of the course doubled back on itself which was great because I got to see my running pals and give each other encouragement as we passed one another. The best part of the run though was when we saw our support crew who scattered themselves along the course to cheer us on. I don’t think they have any idea how important their role was. The lift it gives you to see a friendly face willing you to go on is absolutely unbelievable and I can’t thank them enough.
I counted down the first 10 kms, then the second but I was dreading reaching the 30 km mark as everything I had read said the real race starts at 30kms. That is where I knew I would be in no mans land. After 33km I had never run farther than that in my life and I just didn’t know what would happen. I was aware of the pain in my knee from the 15km mark, I could feel blisters on my feet and could feel the squelch of blood in my shoes from bloody bruised toes but I was okay.
With 5km to go the pacer advised us we were on our own till the end as he had to fall back to help some other runners, I felt panicked that he wasn’t with us any longer but straight away one of the runners in the group fell into step with me. We matched stride for stride the whole way to the finish. We didn’t speak but we knew we were there for each other. When I saw the finish line and saw all our support crew of family and friends cheering me on I felt like I was in the Olympics! It was such a good feeling. Me and the random runner with me crossed the line together! We high fived each other with huge smiles on our faces. We were done. We ran a marathon in 3 hours and 43 minutes.
All of the Life Fit runners and friends who competed on Sunday, did themselves proud. Was it worth it? A resounding YES!! Not one of us regrets doing it and the clairvoyant was right, the Life Fit runners are already talking about the next one!!!
Would I do it again??? It would be nice to beat my time……
Finally we have reached the last week of training! We started way back on 5th January 2015 and since then we have run a total of 529km! I can’t say it has been a completely enjoyable experience, in fact, I would say it has been really hard both physically and mentally but I feel proud that we have all gotten this far and can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
My life has been totally consumed with marathon training over the last 13 weeks not only the physical time training but the amount of time reading and researching different aspects to running a successful marathon. I would estimate I probably have spent about 12 hours a week especially during the weeks we were doing our long runs. I am quite looking forward to reclaiming back that time, I could take on a part time job or go to Uni or something with all that extra time!
So, one week to go before D day. Here is my plan:
1. Stick to the Plan – No matter whether I feel like doing more or less I am going to stick to my taper plan. Everything I have read says to taper for three weeks before (which we have been doing) and don’t deviate from the plan. So don’t take up a new form of exercise, don’t start eating stuff you don’t normally eat. – Stick to the plan.
2. Stay hydrated – Again what I have read says to stay well hydrated the week before the marathon. Keep checking your urine and if it isn’t nearly clear coloured, up your fluids.
3. Increase carbohydrates - Three days before the race start to increase carbohydrate intake. It doesn’t have to be a massive bowl of pasta if that’s not what you normally eat but just alter your ratios of protein to carbohydrate so you eat more carbs than normal.
4. Make a check list - Make a list of what I need to bring so things like; what I will wear on the day , race bib, safety pins, energy gels, Vaseline, band aids, fuel belt, music, ear phones, chargers etc. I am also going to bring my normal snacks and breakfast etc that I will eat on the morning of the race. Because we are staying at a hotel a few days before the race it’s important to have your own food and snacks with you so that you aren’t running around trying to find a seven eleven the night before the race.
5. Run the day before - Rest two days before the event (in our case we are racing on Sunday so rest on Friday) but on Saturday go for a 15 min jog. It won’t make you tired it will actually prevent your legs from feeling heavy and sluggish the next day.
6. Don’t forget to warm up - On the morning do your usual warm up. Your body is used to it so don’t abandon it on the day. Again, your warm up won’t make you tired it will prepare you for the run ahead.
7. Don’t stress - Don’t eat sleep and drink the marathon the week before. If you start getting stressed take some deep breaths and repeat a mantra such as “I have done the work, just enjoy the run.”
8. Stay positive – don’t let negative self-talk derail all your training. You have done the training now is the time to shine! Visualise yourself crossing the finish line and feeling proud of all you have achieved. Jeff Gaudette who is a great running coach recommends setting yourself three goals: a good goal, a great goal and an awesome goal. Your good goal is something you know you can easily achieve for example not starting out too fast. The great goal could be finishing the race without hitting the wall and the awesome goal could be the PB time you have always dreamed of. No matter how you run on the day you will still achieve your good goal.