I think it was back in January that I decided to give running a go. Looking after a husband, two small children, working for myself, and living in a rural town, I really struggled to find the motivation to stick to any sort of exercise routine.

I never ever dreamed of being a runner. In fact, I used to hate running. I always preferred gym workouts or swimming to pounding the pavement. But since raising a family and living such a busy day-to-day lifestyle, the idea of stealing some time to myself was very appealing!

I became of member of Running Mums Australia thanks to an old friend from high school, Ana Croger, who ignited my passion for running through her inspirational posts on facebook. She seemed to be achieving that elusive balance in life between family, work and exercise, which I felt was missing in mine.

Initially I downloaded a few apps to track my distance and pace, eventually setting my first goal, which was to run 10km in March. I remember feeling so great after finishing that I sent a message to Ana and told her “I just ran 10km, do you think it would be too optimistic of me to run the half marathon at the Gold Coast in July”? “Not at all”, she said, I should absolutely go for it.

So, I set a training plan and started running about 4 to 5 times a week. I was feeling great and I set a goal of 2 hours to complete it. I managed to get a training race in at City2South in Brisbane and surprised myself with a much faster finishing time than the 5min 40sec pace I had allowed, but I knew that 21km was going to be a lot tougher.

Race day arrived and I was feeling good. I arrived early to get my bearings and I started absorbing all the excitement in the air. A few last minute nerves nearly got the better of me but as soon as I started running the adrenaline kicked in and I was ready to crush my goal.

After about 8km I was starting to feel the burn and was beginning to think I wouldn’t be able to keep up the pace. By the time I reached half way I started to pick up momentum again as the energetic crowd cheered me on. At 16km I knew I was on the home stretch but my legs were starting to feel like jelly. I was beginning to feel defeated, but I suddenly spotted someone in the group ahead that had passed me way back at the 5k mark. This gave me the motivation I needed to push ahead and quicken my pace. I followed this runner for the next two km, slowly gaining ground until I finally overtook them, giving me the boost I need to finish the race strong. So, with one last push from the amazing RMA supporters I sprinted across the finish line.

I looked down at my watch and it showed a time of 1hr 51mins 50sec, and I couldn’t believe it. It’s amazing how much race-day adrenaline and an enthusiastic crowd of supporters can increase your pace. I honestly had no idea I had that time in me!

I have another half marathon in August but, for this one, I’m not putting any pressure on myself for a specific pace or time. I’m just going to relax, soak up the atmosphere….and maybe surprise myself with a PB if I’m lucky. If not, then I’m not too fussed. I set a goal for the Gold Coast and I exceeded my expectations, so I will ride on that high for a few more months to come.

What’s next on my bucket list? The NYC Marathon…in 2020. When I don’t feel so guilty about leaving the kids at home.:)

Clare De Luca