I have now run a marathon.
Holy crap. It is sometimes hard to believe that I actually did it. Here’s how it went down…
I had a decent nights sleep, but for some reason I woke up at 4:30 (the alarm was set for 5:15), and after that I couldn’t sleep again, so I thought I may as well have a shower. I had laid out my clothes and bag, ready for leaving, so I didn’t really have much to do other than shower, shit and leave.
Thanks to Gai I had a lift in and we arrived at around 6:25 at the Start/Finish line at Telopea Park School.
There were already heaps of people there. Even saw some doing a quick jog before the start. I wasn’t going to be running any more than I needed to! There was a huge group called the ‘Sydney Striders’ who had their own tent set-up. The majority of the field were actually from interstate. It seems to be a popular marathon.
The weather was beautiful in the morning, but the forecast was for 28 – 29 degrees with little wind and no cloud, so the expectation was that we’d need a lot of fluids. I had been stocking up on water and sports drink (gotta love Tropical Gatorade) the night before and in the morning. I stretched a little, and tried to soak in the atmosphere a bit. I was definitely getting nervous, but a lot of it was also such a unknown for me that I didn’t know what to expect. Around 900 gathered at the start line at 6:50 and there was a huge buzz in the air. The 3 of us were in around the middle of the pack.
What I really noticed before the start was the huge array of shapes, sizes and ages of people at the starting line. There weren’t just your typical looking marathon runners (well they were probably at the front anyway), but there were everyday people who looked liked they were just getting ready for a daily jog.
The gun went off and no-one moved for about a second or two and then the pack started to move forward. It probably took a good 10 seconds to actually cross the start/finish line, but then again there were only 900 odd people there. I heard that some marathons it can take minutes to cross the start line.
So we were off and the pace was fairly cruisy for the first km or so. I wasn’t really sure what pace to take it at, but I was just going to let my body tell me what was too fast or too slow. We ran at around a 5.30 min/km pace for the first 5 km or so, but then seemed to pick it up to 5.15 pace without too much trouble. I was running with brother-in-law who had completed the marathon the year before in 4hrs 17mins so I was pretty happy to stick with him as long as I could. We were doing a good pace of around 5.35 for the first 20km, but it was just around the Half marathon mark that I really started to feel the pain.
To be honest, I could have seen the half-marathon sign and gotten stressed at the distance to go, but the 21km I had travelled up until then wasn’t too bad. I knew that I still had a long way to go, but I was feeling ok.
It was at around the 22km mark however that I found myself running by myself and that is when the real mental game began.
Apart from an injury, I did not even contemplate stopping. To me, just to finish the marathon was going to be the acheivement. But there was a time when my left ankle started giving my gyp and I was worried about how I could continue. But that was all part of the mental battle. Coming off Kings Avenue for the second time and knowing I had to run all the way up to Glenloch Interchange was messing with my brain. I was all over the road and I needed to take a piss for quite a while. (finally found the crappers near Anzac Parade). After that I decided that I had to run..or at least stagger, cause if I walked all the way I’d never finish.
So I pushed on and on…and on, By this stage it was around 10:15 and the sun was starting to pelt down. I appreciated the underpass cause it was much cooler and breeze came through. I decided to run in the shade and walk in the sun. Maybe a silly way to do it, but the sweat and the hydration was starting to become a problem, even with the drink stations.
My mind was filled with all sorts of thoughts from 30 – 38km. I was trying to not think about the pain, or the race, but about much nicer things and places I’d rather be. It helped and I reached Glenloch by 10:30.
My finishing target was 4 and half hours, so I had 10 km to go, and 1 hour to do it in. This spurred me on and I actually ran up the hill adjacent to Black Mountain and set my sights on that time. My shuffling became slower and slower after a km however and I found myself aiming for a point in the distance, running to it, and then walking for a while. I did that until the 38km stage, when I really was completely fucked.
The last 3 or 4km’s were slow. Probably 7-8 mins each, and I was just yearning to see that 41km marker and to see and hear the finish line.
With about 500m to go I revved it up and started to run, not shuffle, but run. Then I saw the kids on the last corner and that made me smile. They helped me go that little bit faster so I got to that finishing straight. Then, the adrenaline took over. I ran down the straight, overtaking 2 people along the way and managed to do a little sprint before crossing the line with the time of 4:37:57.
I had finished, and I was absolutely stoked, and absolutely screwed. Everything hurt. I just wanted to lie down forever and never ever get up again.
It’s something that’ll I’ll only ever do once in my life, but at least I can say that I have done it.
I have run a marathon.