After a rocky training schedule I started race day with one thing in mind. Finish the race.
During my interrupted training I knew I was good for the distance so decided to continue as I could with whatever strength and stretching routines I could muster up.
On the day I drove to Ross with a friend and we arrived early enough to pic up bibs, take a walk, stretch and make the copious toilet stops before the start. I was feeling good and had made the last minute decision to run naked – no hydration. The weather was looking ok, not much sun, dark clouds promising rain and the usual Ross wind.
As we started off I made sure to keep my pace slow, purposely bringing it back down. One of my many running faults is to start out too quick and then die in the back half. I didn’t want that to happen this time.
The first drink station is around the 4-5km mark and by then I was ready for some fluids. And a lolly or two. Imagine my horror when I see no lolly bowls at the ready. Nothing, nada, zip. Oh well, they might be at the next one. Nope, no such luck.
Walking through with my drink I sipped a bit then continued on. The infamous Ross headwind started just past the tree lined part on a long 3km section of open road and that set the mood for the rest of the run. Tough.
Ironically, it was this section of the road on the way out I started my music with the first song being ‘Road to Nowhere’ from the Talking Heads.
I pushed along the long and lonely road, by this time I was pretty well on my own. A few half and full marathon runners passed me. As I got closer to the turn for That Hill there was a little congestion but nothing too bad. Eyeing off the hill for the first time in 12 months was weird. Knowing I only needed to do it twice gave me comfort, as did the size of it, I had remembered it as something that resembled Everest (or for Tasmanians, Mount Wellington). I powered up it and got close to half way before the steep kicked in and I shuffle/walked the rest. Near the top I picked up the pace and continued on down the other side.
The rest of the run went smoothly, walked through the drink stations, sipping then emptying the rest over my head, and moving along, doing an occasional walk as I felt it.
At 17kms I was feeling good, running alongside another RMA and checking my watch saw that if I kept the current pace I could get a pb. Woohoo! I was still aiming to finish so just kept moving. A friend was approaching on her second lap and I ran in front of her attempting a couple of jumps. We high fived and continued on. Boy, that wore me out, I shouldn’t do that again mid-race. Walked most of the hill and kept on moving.
The last turn was in sight and my watch said I was going to get a good time. Pushing on, looking at the mantra on my shoes – Finish Strong – and ploughed down Main Street. A surprise, and awesome support, came from car on the side door opens and a voice calls out “Go Jennifer!!” I look around, wave and grin like a Cheshire, then pushed on harder. The little things, running side by side not talking, a shout out from a car, high fiving friends, saying ‘good luck’ ‘well done’ ‘keep it up’ are all welcome as it gives a boost we may not realise we need.
I approach the last corner and check my watch – omg! – vere to the right as I hit the finishing chute, grabbing the pb bell and giving it a good ring.
This race was one of my best. For numerous reasons. I wanted to finish, I wasn’t fully worried about a pb (always good, but now, not essential) and feeling stronger due to my regular strength workouts.
Beating even my wildest dreams for this (or any) race and gaining two personal bests over two consecutive years at the same Race location. First my marathon, now the half – wonder if I could make it a trifecta when I return to do the ten k next year?
A huge smile and absolute relief. Finished 21.1km in 2.16.58.
We started the half as the clocked ticked over 1.30 from the full marathon start.
Train well, train with fun and keep working on being the best version of you, Jennifer