The time came round all too quickly and while I was confident about the race I am not really surprised with what happened.
There were a few pivotal long runs I missed and some personal issues that knocked me about somewhat.
Add to that an up close encounter with wildlife that nearly stopped the car on the way that morning, which certainly didn’t make it easier to concentrate on the job at hand.
On arrival at the race precinct I attend the photo session with some of the other marathon girls before hunting out the bag drop. It was then I discovered my ear buds had disappeared. Looking everywhere resulted with nothing surfacing, meaning I had to run with no music. I have done a half with no music but 42kms was a whole different thing.
I feel this was yet another factor in what was to happen later on.
Doing some stretches and loosening up felt good, and I positioned myself at the back of the group at the start line. I’d rather overtake people than feel like I am holding others up or getting in the way of faster runners.
The first couple of kms were a loop of the housing estate where the factory is located and I paced myself carefully, working on not overtaking too many, on simply breathing and taking it easy. And then we were heading down the hill and onto the main road. There were a few people around, mainly the half runners arriving for the 6.30 start. A couple of inclines before heading down to the second drink station and hitting the straight.
The first 5kms I was pacing alright, not too fast and feeling strong. My drinks were good, stronger than I anticipated which would prove handy in the later hours. One last incline (a killer) and we were on the bridge and heading for approx 11-12km mark. More high fives and cheers from the running group I’m in (Running Mums Australia, aka RMA) which was awesome. The turnaround arrived and on looking back towards the Cadbury factory it looked so far away. I felt good, not too tired and no aches or pains. Passing the point (17kms) where last year I hit the wall, I smiled as I felt strong and so completely different to where I was 12 months ago.
I was cruising along alright, starting to tire a little at the 20k mark, and slowing myself down a little, though still no indication of what was to come.
The turnaround for the marathon is at the bottom of that first hill near the factory (22-23km)and it was just after that my knee started to twinge and buckle slightly. More high fives and cheers as I slowly make my way along the road. I smile as best I could, although it probably looked like a grimace. By the time I had finished another km my knee was in agony. It was like a knife was jammed in the side and with each bend of my leg it twisted just a bit more. I started a hobble limp type run and on reaching the top of the last slight incline I almost couldn’t move, tears were running down my face, attempts to stop them were useless. Walking was no reprieve from the pain, and attempting to run was pathetic. The conversation in my head came to a conclusion and I limped into the drink station unable to speak aside from blubbering through tears that my race was ending at this point.
I finished the Cadbury Marathon at 25.4kms in 2.52.05.
I started the race and it ended with a DNF.
My conversation went along the lines of – do I finish, no matter the time and risk never being able to run again, or at least for the rest of the year OR put aside the pride of finishing (at well past the cut off time of 6hrs) and get out while I still can, where I can recover and move onto the next race.
This is one of those positions that we know may happen, and dread it. I had said once before I would rather a DNF than a DNS. When the time came though, it was still a decision I dreaded. And not one I ever want to repeat.
The hardest and yet the easiest decision of my life. I plan on running for many years to come and my running ‘career’ was not about to end like this.
Feeling strong at around the 9km mark and enjoying myself.
Within the first couple of kms. Serious ‘kenyan’ face but relaxed and cruising.
To say I was disappointed is an understatement. My husband wasn’t overly surprised, saying he had a bad feeling about this one. He is the most supportive guy and I got huge cuddles and an ‘I’m so proud of you, don’t ever think you did the wrong thing, or be upset, what you have achieved is so amazing, only a fool would have continued’.
The tears were needed on my part. I was stoic and somewhat philosophical about it, knowing that next year I will conquer it. I can’t win them all, some races are bad….yada Yama yada. Next year I will do the full at Cadbury.
The next day was a different story completely. It was like the enormity had set in. I was a blubbering mess and treated up at the mere mention of certain things. A friend went to hug me and then said ‘don’t you dare, look at what you’ve achieved, look at what you have done, don’t you dare cry on me!’ It was hard, but I controlled myself for the most part.
A lady at work a few days later said she had tears reading my post, thinking so close yet so far, assuming I was only a half km from the finish. If that was the case I would have crawled there. My co worker said she would have dragged me over the finish got me thinking, if it had been half a km or up to 5kms, I would have pushed through, struggled but done it. Five kms is not the 17 I actually had left and it would have been the hardest of my life.
This post has taken me nearly two weeks to post. One because I wanted to let the mourning pass, and really think about the race, two because we have been busy. You may ask why the word mourning. It’s about the loss of a race, the no being able to do it. Mourning is just the right word.
I have mentioned I earlier posts that each race, each training run teaches you something, you learn from everything you do.
I now know what that lesson was. I had already stated that I was going to be concentrating on more strength workouts – for both my running and pulling everything in a little tighter – and two weeks after I had made this goal the reasons for it became incredibly clear. I have to do mor wife I am to be a better runner, if I am to get through each race more comfortably. A tough way to learn a lesson, but sometimes that’s the way it goes.
I had a self imposed break for a week and then started my strength workouts and jogging as far as I could before my knee hurt. The first two runs I got to 3kms and had to stop. After a week of strength work I went out again. The idea was to take it easy, walk as needed but get hopefully 5kms done. Well, what a difference already. Four super quick kms later, my knee twinged just once and I felt strong the whole way. I followed my idea and scoffed at the first km thinking the gps was out. Imagine my surprise when I stopped tracking at 4K and saw the whole splits. Wow! For that day at least my knee was my friend again. I will be looking at a short runs and slowly building up to the 10 for my next race. Continuing my strength, and will add in extras this week specifically for the ITB (which I’m pretty sure is the problem).
Bring on this year, I am feeling strong and positive about what is to be and where I am going now.
Keep running and be safe out there,
It’s four and a half weeks til my next big race. The worlds toughest half marathon. And I can believe it. 21kms of incline. To a total height of over 1270 meters above sea level. That’s pretty high. And a lot of hard work. Lots of hill to climb. Like a mountains worth, literally.
My training has been slightly hit and miss as it should have been all about strength and hills. I haven’t done as much strength training as I’d hoped I would, yet my hills are moving along quite nicely. Both of these workouts are definitely not my strength so it’s been a double whammy on the challenge. The challenge of getting to the top. The challenge of training hills (my knees hate me most of the time with any kind of incline) and strength (while I know I should do it I make excuses to not go there).
I’m almost enjoying the hills. I can feel it’s making my usual runs stronger and faster. The hills while challenging, are good for me, for my mental strength as well as my physical. Thinking that no matter what happens on race day, this training can only be good for me.
On my run this evening I ‘officially’ passed 700kms for the year. I think I have done nearly 800 as I started the challenge a good few weeks after the start date. So my run was hard initially, what felt like an actual vertical climb before levelling out and heading back down hill, I got to thinking about the race. And how I was going to tackle it time wise. Normally wouldn’t be too worried about a time but this one has a strict cut off period to allow for as little traffic disruption as possible (and is capped at 3000 people combined for the walk and run). And in my very basic math head I began working out how fast I would need to go to finish within the time. And it’s not too bad.
What I figured out. Time frame minus say 20 minutes. Times by 60. Divide by 4. This would give me an idea of how long to allow for each five km plus plenty of time to finish that last kilometre, and rest up/stretch before catching the bus back to the start line. Number crunching done, it works out like this.
3.40 total time. Minus twenty minutes. Times 60. Time is now 200 minutes. Divide by 4 = 50 minutes per 5km + time up my sleeve for the last and final dash to the finish line.
Now as I usually do my 5k in roughly 30 mins I’m working on an extra twenty making this more than doable. And in my head that works. It doesn’t mean I’m going to slack off and run slower. It’s only going to make me want to work harder so I’m stronger and more capable of doing it. And doing it stronger.
This is one race where the adage of “Finish lines not finish times” is all I’m thinking about. I just want to make it to the top. Because with such an iconic race (founded in 1995) participating – and reaching the Pinnacle! – is so much a part of the end result.
A preview of some of the hills I’ve been working on lately.
I’ve written before about what goes into training for a marathon or any race. A lot of hard work, determination and commitment. Early morning starts, long runs, new diet and learning how to fuel during your runs. Gaining new kind of mental strength. Sticking to your guns. And lots of running. Like, lots and lots of running.
It was back in January sometime I think when I first decided to do this marathon. Back then it seemed like a pipe dream, it was so far away. Then came June and July with one last race before I knuckled down and got serious about my marathon training. I followed a plan which was great. It made me accountable and made sure I was getting the right amount of miles in (even though we are metric, it doesn’t sound quite right saying getting the kilometres in, so miles it is). Doing the job I needed to do. I used to run all the time, when I could, with no real idea of training plans, but this time I resisted the urge and gave the control over to someone else, well, my phone, but you get the drift. And I feel it worked. One thing I could have done differently was do more strength training, but hindsight is a wonderful thing, so we learn and move forward.
The week of the race was nerve-wracking for me, people at work were sick and I was worried I’d come down with something. I was also really tired and had no real energy to speak of. I wanted to run, but didn’t want to wear my self out. I was making out lists in my head of what I needed to take with me, cover all bases and circumstances. We were driving nearly 3 hours away so there was no time to say ‘can you pop home and grab something’ midway through the race.
The night before I was fairly relaxed, almost too much so, or so I felt at the time. Chilled out with a movie and pizza as per usual. The plan is not to eat differently so I didn’t, only to say that I didn’t eat as much.
My only worry about the race itself, was if I needed to poop somewhere along the route. I usually have had to on my long runs so was nervous about that rearing its ugly head. Pee, well, I’d deal with wet pants if I had to. I had packed my bag and had food items in the fridge ready to go. My bag had a full change of clothes, cream for my feet, ugg boots, lollies and Father’s Day presents for my husband (great day to have a race and make it all about me).
Race day arrives…
Considering what usually happens before a race I got a decent 5 hours sleep before a 3am alarm got us all up and about. I had taken advantage of several extra good sleeps during the week to make sure I was properly rested as well as getting in the extra hydration.
The drive to Ross was uneventful with only one pit stop along the way after a 4.30 coffee. I also had a banana. This is not my usual pre race thing, but the time and distance meant it would be OK for digestion and the toilet. We arrived with plenty of time to collect my bib and wander around before the other runners started to appear. I have this thing about being early and making sure I have everything organised. Especially if I have not done it before. For me it’s the one thing I can control (to a certain extent) in a predominately uncontrollable environment.
As it got closer to race start time I got my gear ready – the warm up jacket came off and hydration vest, sunnies and cap on. Made sure my ear buds were turned on, tracking apps and music at the ready. I wasn’t feeling particularly nervous at this point, more excited than anything. This was like a dream me true and I was ready for it. The pre run photo shows this I think. The group was small with less than 100 runners all up for the marathon. And 18 of those were us women.
As the bell went for start I pressed all the right buttons on the phone, started a slow jog towards the incline heading out-of-town and waving at my husband with the camera. It was then getting into my head space and making sure I didn’t head out too fast. One thing I have learnt is that I tend to start quick and then peter out. I wanted to make sure this didn’t happen as with 40+ kms to go it wouldn’t be good.
The route takes you several kms out-of-town down a long semi winding road before back tracking, a sharp right then left turn at the 8km mark and you hit the only hill to start the loop around the back-end of town. The last part takes you down Main Street and rounding the corner to the start/finish line and heading out again. The first time you do the hill, it’s not too bad, but by the third and fourth it has become a mountain and a nemesis. While I certainly felt that way, it wasn’t so much a nemesis for me as an opportunity to take a walk break and catch my breath. Basically a 10.5km loop you repeat four times. Boring as batshit and mentally hard.
I made good time for my first and second laps, with the clock telling me I was right on time. My hydration was spot on, Tailwind is my new best friend and I don’t know how I would have survived if I didn’t invest in a camelbak for long runs. While I had lollies in my vest they had loads of them at each drink station and I took advantage. Just a couple to keep my spirits up, and a drink of water at two of the stations for a different kind of fluid. This worked amazingly well. While the tailwind kept me going, the plain water was perfect for a splash on the face and refreshing the body, and hydration purposes.
By the I was at about 14kms the 10k and half runners had started and I passed the biggest group along one of the windiest stretches of road. As the 42ers were spread out by this time it was good to see more people on the road and I was able to wave at others I knew or knew of from runners groups on Facebook.
I finished my second lap feeling ok, but it was starting to get to me. Another 5k was starting to hit the wall. My feet were killing me and I was exhausted. I pushed though. I wasn’t doing all this way to not finish, to fall in a heap.
Each lap I had done my kids and husband were there to high-five me and that gave me the much-needed boost I needed each time. The third lap was so much harder. The wind had picked up and constantly pushing against it was not just physically hard but mentally draining also. I had done half and had to push through another two times. As another runner said to me after the race, the monotony of the repetition is hard, and harder mentally on newbies. It is also incredibly boring. I just made through third lap and by then our eldest some had turned up and high-fived me, giving me the ‘one lap left mum’. While I know it was in support and much appreciated, I was feeling like he had just said I had to do a whole lot more than just one. I grinned and said thanks and kept going. Feeling slower than a wet week, or a turtle stuck in peanut butter.
This is where the going got real tough. Where I had to dig deep to find that strength to keep moving. The strength to not curl up in a ball on the ground and cry. The strength to not call someone and say ‘come and get me’ There were tears, and moments of feeling sorry for myself, looking behind me and seeing no one. No one in front of me. Coming to the realisation I was last. Seeing the safety vehicles taking away the signage. The drink station ladies leaving in their cars. The sheer loneliness of running shuffling along this long winding road on your own. I found that inner strength. That mental toughness that helped me though my other long runs. I picked myself up and kept going. Even I was last, who cares. My first and main goal was to finish this thing. Cross the line at the end of a marathon. No matter what.
That stretch of road looked a hundred miles longer than it had been before and the return felt a hundred miles longer.
I rounded the turn point and walked to the drinks table and took one with me. Fished about for a lolly out of my pocket and kept the run shuffle going. And then I saw them. Three more women. All walking. And here I was thinking they were on their last lap the last time I had seen them. For a brief moment I felt some joy, I was not going to be last. It felt a little mean, but in all honestly, I think anyone would feel some joy at realising that.
Seeing those women put a little more bounce in my step and got my stubborn side revved up. I may not be last but I certainly wasn’t going to walk it either. The final time I hit the hill I pushed a fast walk, as fast as I could anyway and rang the bell at the top like no tomorrow. If anyone was listening then they were going to know someone was there. One last drink station and then the last 1500 meters.
Looking ahead I saw someone walking around a corner and as I got closer saw it was my husband. I had never been so happy to see him as I was right then, the tears started and I had to pull back, telling him he shouldn’t have. I’m glad he did as I may not have actually sped up, but I felt lighter and more eager than ever to finish it. He kept me going. He then gave me the news that I wasn’t going to make the cut off time when they opened the roads again. Which also meant I wasn’t going to make my second goal. A sub 5 hours. I had 4 minutes to do a mile and even in my revved up state it wasn’t going to happen. Pessimistic? no, just realistic.
Rounding the last corner and heading down Main Street our youngest was there and started the jog with us. I felt so proud to have them there with me. Along the route several other runners who had finished the full waved and gave thumbs up, calling out ‘well done’ and ‘good job’, an acknowledgment of what we had all done and that I was still doing mine. As we reached the street end the finish chute was in sight my two elder boys were there and I said ‘come one..’ As they followed me in as I found a teeny bit of speed and pushed for the finish line. I was so proud and tired and utterly exhausted but still heard the lady say ‘look a that smile’ as I came towards them.
Time and position out of the 18 women. Total position was 51/55 marathon participants.
Time to eat all the food.
The best homemade burger I’ve had yet.
Still feeling good at the 10k mark 👍
Flat me ready to go
Lunch box ready to pack, and water bottle for my camelbak.
Love my asics. Shoes, vest, bag, shirts even. Packed and ready to go.
Time for recover
Crossing the line I stand long enough to hand in my timing chip and receive my medal. Oh medal, how I love thee… And then collapse on the grass . This didn’t last long, and hubby gave me hand to get up, believe me I was not able to do it on my own. Gingerly I walked back to the car with my boys, amid them making jokes about tripping me over and the fact I wouldn’t be able to get back up. I laughed at them and was mock angry saying I’d soon chase them down. Nothing was a nicer sight than my post run jacket and chocolate shake. A vague attempt at calf stretches and then chilling out before we started the trip back home. Finishing at 1pm it was nearly 2 by the time we left. I nibbled on my banana and peanut butter sandwiches, drinking a diluted bottle of tailwind water.
An hour from home we stopped for snacks, and I was surprised that #eatallthefood hadn’t kicked in yet. My feet by this time were slowly killing me in my sneakers so I asked for my ugg boots. Ah the bliss of soft woolly feet. I wasn’t at all surprised by the looks I got but I was so far from caring it didn’t bother me – Ugg boots, stripy calf sleeves, shorts and hooded jacket. I tell you, I owned it.
Getting home and out of sweaty gear never felt as good as it did that day. A long hot shower fixed me and we walked (I hobbled) down the road to find pizza for dinner. That was not to be, so toasted sandwiches, ice cream and a movie instead before early to bed for all. While I slept well that night, it was each time I woke to roll over I had to grip the bed to help me, and the covers felt like ton weights on my body. I slept in, feeling like a brick trying to move when I got up the next day. Then it hit me. While I ached and my legs were sore, I simply could not walk. My heels had decided to kick in and were in excruciating pain. Even my toes complained. I somehow managed a coffee and some water, before the head spins, fainting feeling and vomit in the throat pushed me back to bed for another hour.
Struggling into the shower and dressing before my husband came home, I finally got the munchies. Toast, chips, biscuits. If it wasn’t nailed down I ate it. We took a walk and had coffee. And chips, and cake. At home for dinner, it was enormous hamburgers and cake and ice cream. Another coffee, and more water. Finally I was sated. My body refueled. Note to self here: it’s time to pull back on the food, to get ready for more training and less of eating everything in sight.
A week of stretching and my body feels awesome and strong again. Thank god for having a physical job, it kept my body moving and not seizing up sitting at a desk.
A short (3km?) slow, naked (no music, tracking etc) run yesterday to get me back into it and my heels, toes and backs of my knees really felt it. Overall, feeling great!
And I’m ready to go again. Some people say once they’ve done one that’s it, don’t need to go again, well I think I’ve got the bug and it’s on again. Three days post run and I said I’ll go back to where it all started this year. Cadbury marathon. To do the full. A funny thing with that is before I have even registered for the January run I have tickets booked (thanks cheerleader husband) for GCAM* (my third marathon) in July.
Hands down, my amazing beautiful family aside, it is the best thing I have achieved so far.
Happy running, Jennifer x
*GCAM – Gold Coast Airport Marathon, Queensland.
The title for this post came from an acquaintance on a Facebook running page as the comment to my ‘I’ve done it, I’ve run a marathon’ post I put up. It brought tears to my eyes, and is the perfect title for this.
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt through long runs and marathon training, it’s how I like to recover after a long run. Short runs, like a five or ten k requires a slightly vastly different routine than that of a 20+ km run. Not having the time to do my usual recovery session recently, I realised what I like to do and how my body works.
A short run requires light stretching, a protein shake and I’m good to go. Nothing more than that.
A long run works the body and mind in a deeper, harder way, so need a more intense variety of recovery.
I like to take my time and let my body cool down, relax. Then refuel and refreshen. From a long run it takes up to 2 hours before I eat properly and at least another hour after that before I have the energy to do more than be a couch potato. I let my body relax, and I have learnt to make sure I do it properly.
I know what I am like if I don’t recover properly, headaches prevail and general grumpiness. Not nice for anyone in the direct vicinity. Myself either. I dislike how it feels. I may not always like the pain on a long run but I do love the feeling I have after.
My routine goes something like this.
Finish my run. Spend ten minutes chilling, walking and letting my body relax. Let the shakes in my legs calm down. Make a protein shake. Stretch and drink. Eat a banana. Chill out a bit more. Drink water. Shower. And somewhere around 1 1/2 – 2 hours post run I am ready to eat properly.
This was really put to the test when I did my 25km run. What I thought would be an ‘easy’ run was a lot harder than I thought, and my post run routine was stretched to its limits. I passed, but not without more aches and pain than I wanted.
The week after when I had my 30km I also had another little helper. Proper fuel in my camelbak. Water is great and definitely required but on long runs you need to do more than just hydrate. Replacing the salts you lose are important and help the body to keep moving. Tailwind is my new best friend. While I didn’t drink all 2 litres of it, I was so much better off afterwards. Less tired, more energy, and no headaches. I will be using this on my marathon and any time I do more than 15kms. If it works I’m going to use it.
I had to explain my recovery routine to my husband prior to my 30k. I’d said that I would be up and out the door at 5am, allowing four hours to do the run. He then said, but that’s only mid morning. And so I explained what I do and the time frame it takes up. He seemed to understand then why I was happy to get up that early on my day off. I will be up that early if it means I have more time to do other things later. (Even if that day it was veg out on the couch and watch a movie or two and eat all the food I could stuff in my mouth).
My recovery session after my marathon this weekend may be slightly different again, but hopefully as much the same as usual. It’s a 2 1/2-3 hour drive from home and I have my family with me as my support crew (plus its Father’s Day here), and it’s a race which means meeting up with friends (more like running acquaintances) and being around the general atmosphere of race day. Then the drive home. At least I won’t have to drive at all.
recovery is important no matter what distance you run, or how hard you do it. Fuel, hydration, rest and stretching.
Now I must head off and make up my list of what I need to take with me, I can’t be forgetting the important things. Especially not with a 3am get up on the day.
The sub run. No,not to subway, but the running of a distance below a certain time frame. Most people when they start running eventually getting point where they want to aim for a sub 30 5k or a sub 60 10k. While I know I can do the former, it is the latter I have been more interested in. Five km for me is a warm up,a run to do so I feel ‘like I’ve done something when I’m feeling lazy’ kind of thing. After only 12 short months I am definitely in the minimum of 10km distances. The best man can do five km a good five minutes quicker than me and still have room for a sprint at the end. Me, I’ve always been good at holding the pace for distance. Over the last six months I have run several 10km races and my goal was to get that elusive sub 60 mins. I have been so close several times, and have done it once or twice over a longer distance, but for me it has to be official. I feel that once I’ve done it, and it’s in writing so to speak, then I can move on to the next thing. This is not saying I will never be happy and there is always something else round the corner, it is about stretching myself, adjusting the dream, while still being proud of where I have come from and what I have achieved. Even right now, as I type this, I am pretty happy with my results to this point.
Part of my marathon training called for a 10km slow run on Sunday just gone. Well, it just so happened that it coincided with a local fun run….yep, you guessed it, a ten kay-er. It didn’t take much to say “bugger the plan, I’m going for the sub 60”. And speed is good to practice also. While I am not speedy by some standards, it was fast for me.
My plan after I arrived was to identify the 60 min runner and stick with him the whole way til the last kilometre and then pop ahead to finish under the hour.
We all know how “the best laid plans…” work out. Well mine did. I went out strong and got ahead of the pacer. Actually I went out too quick and got ahead of the pacer. For most of the race I was pretty well in the middle of the 55 and 60 min pacers, I considered this good, I could place quite well.
The last couple of k’s were hard, the result of going too hard too fast too soon, and I slowed down probably more than I wanted too. Either way, I still finished strong, as I like to, and was about a minute ahead of the pacer.
Then, typically, I forgot to turn off my tracking so it clocked my run at 1.01 with a very slow last 300m.
I was still pretty sure at this point that I had done it, but when I saw the preliminary results I was super happy. I may have had less than 60 seconds to spare but a sub 60 is a sub 60 no matter whether there is 1 second left on the clock or otherwise. And I am really proud of myself. Now, I don’t mind what I do. So long as my longer distances are consistent then I am happy. I can cross one more thing of my list.
My stats for the race are:
Gender place: 60/84
And in other news I am now officially registered for the Point to Pinnacle in November. 21km of pure hill climb through some of the best scenery we have to offer. And spaces are limited to 3000. Scary stuff.