Running is hard. It takes commitment. To step out and run your first major race takes courage; but add to that the courage it takes when you are doing it in front of thousands of others, and you know that you will be at the back of the pack and all eyes will be on you. You have fought hard for every step, done all your training, to show people that just because you are not the ‘average looking runner’, you are a runner regardless, and you will conquer your goal. Jess shares her story with us. Be inspired, because all it takes is a step of faith to change one life. 

The atmosphere was excitable, the crowd was awash with anticipation and the sun was shining. I repeat the sun was shining in Melbourne. All good signs today was going to be something epic.

Run Melbourne was many things;
-my first official race
-my first time attempting 10kms
-the first time I was actually running with anyone from start to finish.
It felt good to have a little running entourage (wicked witch of the west included – thanks Emma).
My nerves were a mix between the first day at school, when will this baby arrive, hope my wedding day goes to plan and will I pass my drivers test kind of jitters.
It was so great to meet so many fellow RMA’s before it all got started. I was also pleased to see everyone was just as nervous as myself.
Then all of sudden we were there. We were at the start. My heart was pounding now. Thankfully Run Melbourne is known for their music blaring throughout the course and it didn’t disappoint at the starting line. My heart was pounding with the music, my feet were stomping across that start line and some running history for myself was about to be made.
Almost immediately I fell to the back of the pack, just like I ‘planned’. The first kilometre was like a running community meet and greet. So many people encouraging me and cheering me on. Alas, the community got further and further away. Now I was even more grateful that I had my little entourage with me.
Navigating my way over tram tracks, rough roads, doing a bit of running, walking and listening to the hilarious banter of Emma and Nikki sure did make time pass quickly.
At 2.2kms the tail runner had caught up to me. This caused me some mixed emotions. But we quickly embraced her and made Rhiannon (the tail runner) part of our posse.
At 3kms there was water! Thank goodness! You would of thought I had been in the Sahara desert for hours and that water station was a mirage on the horizon at this point. This miraculous Melbourne heat wave had left me quite parched very early on. After some of the finest h2o I’ve ever digested, I was handed some jelly beans by my wonderful witch. Now my energy was back.
Until I saw a hill. But thankfully with the tail runner intel now at my beck and call I was advised that after this hill was a very nice down hill section. I got to the top of the hill and was met with praise from the tail runner whom proceeds to say, “I’ve seen many people stop on this hill. But you just kept going.” Well, that certainly gave me a boost and I internally flipped off all those people who probably thought a hill like this would defeat me. But it didn’t. So take that ‘Becky’ from grade 6 who cheated in the cross country run ruining all my chances of furthering on – today I finally got pay back. Ahhh where was I?
What goes up, must come down. Down this big hill I went. With the boost of confidence, sugar hit and the down hill momentum there was no stopping me! Like Forrest Gump, “I was runnnning.”
5kms! Somehow I was suddenly at 5kms! Half way! The equivalent of one parkrun was done……
Drink station! Another glorious injection of water! It seriously had never tasted so good. I was so proud of myself for remembering to pinch the cup and make a spout like all the cool runners. I’m so hard core like that. Some more lollies and I’m still soldering on.
Uh oh, I can hear over the tail runners radio that the 6km run had now started and it didn’t take long before the front runners were flying past me. To be honest it was a welcomed breeze as I was feeling a bit warm. But they didn’t get their glory for long because there was my local running club standing either side of the road cheering me on. This gave me a massive wave of energy.
Gravel! Gravel and I are not friends. We’re not friends on a good day and we are definitely not friends when my legs are tiring and dragging. It felt like every single person doing the 6km run caught up to me at this point. Gravel flying everywhere. The decibels of footsteps went up 100% and I was feeling slow. I was the sloth to their greyhound speed.
7kms. Yay! More RMA’S (Welcome aboard Carly & Renee)! The entourage was growing. Thank goodness they joined us at this point because the track was tight and I felt like I was in an protected RMA bubble while everyone else was battling for space. Finally we rounded the corner where the track had width again but like a scene from Back to the Future the tail runner advises me I’m not going that way with all the 6km runners and all I can think is “where we’re going, we don’t need roads.”
It was just me and the crew now. Then I started thinking maybe this is it? Maybe this is finally the moment that I get my spontaneous flash mob moment? Because it was like a movie again. There’s Gary! There’s Wendy! There’s Kathryn and there’s Wendy’s husband! There’s Nancy… wait no we don’t want Nancy (she’s my negative imaginary friend that tells me to give up). There was no flash mob but I was wholeheartedly feeling the love.
8kms. I was having a little whimper and I really couldn’t hear what people were saying around me now. I don’t think I was upset. I think I was just overwhelmed by how many people were willing to tag along with me while I battled these last couple of kilometres.
9kms. I was feeling it in every part of my body. The pressure was on. The roads were literally getting reopened behind me. Thank god I had a witch to distract them.
Another bloody hill! This one sucked! My steps were going side ways and I just wanted to stop. I actually don’t know how I was still moving? I could hear so much encouragement and I could now hear the buzz of the finish line off in the distance. I made it to the top of this final hill. Total Rocky Balboa moment!
Then the best thing ever happened. I could see my daughter! She was there with my Mum and just like that all my pain went away. All the air I was struggling to find finally filled my lungs. Every ounce of determination that I had in me put a spring in my step until I got to my daughter and Mum. I gave them quick cuddles and continued (they raced back to the finish line).
I had one final corner to get around. I was in the home stretch now. Over the loud speaker. There was a shout out to me. Then off to my right was a whole row of fellow park runners with their hands out for high fives. I don’t know if I was laughing or crying but it was a sensational feeling.
2 hours 28 minutes and 24 seconds later. Over that finish line I went! Emma was quick to prompt me to turn off my Garmin (she’s a pro at this haha). I got the best cuddle from my 4 year old daughter. “Did you have a good run Mummy?” My reply, “It was the best run I’ve ever had.”
I was so caught up hugging everyone and then I was suddenly standing next to Hamish Blake for a photo. Apparently he’s a big fan (kidding).
My name was being called from every direction and it was just surreal.
Eventually I got my hands on my 10km medal and a wave of achievement came over me.
I just did 10km! Last year walking up my street was a tedious task and here I was STILL standing at the end of completing 10kms at Run Melbourne.
I’ve tried to find the words to thank those that joined me in my 10kms but I’m struggling to give my gratitude justice. I am strong. But I was stronger with all of you there. When I was weak you picked me up. When I was tired you distracted me and I finished because you so patiently stuck by my side.
The running community is like no other. As lucky as I was to have you all there and as blessed as I am to have so much support. There is no doubt in my mind that if I had shown up with no entourage and no one knew who I was that I still would have had people from the running community helping me finish that 10km run.
Run Melbourne was the perfect event to pop my first race cherry. The atmosphere was motivating. The course was beautiful and the weather was just right.
I’m officially hooked. Which race will I do next?
Jessica Hay