This weekend I completed something that still seems a little surreal – I became a Marathoner!
Now if you had told me that a few years ago the reaction would have been pretty clear, a big laugh and a ‘you have to be joking, I could never run that far!’
In the scheme of things I am really a newbie to running, and started running about 7 years ago when I attempted my first 6km Adelaide City to Bay – wow was that a big goal for me. I grew up being the person who hated sport, avoided sports day, was overweight and not what you would say a lover of physical activity in any shape or form. Fast forward to 2010 I decided to give this running thing a go, well why not hey! At that stage I was only running on a treadmill and thought running outside to train was very scary.
I did a couple of 6km fun runs and thought maybe, just maybe I could run 12km. In 2013 with my kids and hubby I did the 12km City to Bay! Running and walking but doing it and finishing it. After a couple of years of 12km runs I thought ‘maybe I could run a half?’ I honestly thought that was such a ridiculous idea, but something inside me had the desire to dream bigger. This is when my love of running started to really happen I think, it becomes part of you.
My hubby who is a great runner is my constant supporter and said ‘of course you can do a half!’ like I shouldn’t have even questioned it…a little idea and a lot of faith and a crazy determined woman means anything is possible (you all know that!). So I decided to jump in head first and signed up to do a ten week running program to learn what the hell a tempo, fartlek, interval was, and to work out how to train better and to actually do this. It was one of the scariest things but the best things I have ever done. I found my coach Jenelle and wonderful friend and haven’t looked back.
Fast forward to 2017 and leading into this weekend I have run 5 half marathons and I did what anyone says to themselves at some stage “Could I run a marathon?”…well could I?! Holy smokes that is one hell of a goal to have. After the Melbourne half last year this is just what I did and I decided that night that we would run the Sydney Marathon this year.
To throw a little more excitement into the lead up I also completed a 60km trek on the sunshine coast in July 2017 with my bestie which probably wasn’t ideal timing, but life throws things at you that are for a reason sometimes. It resulted in a bit of wear and tear (my poor feet!) but the mental strength I gained from that was priceless. If I could do that it made me think I could damn well do anything.
I had a 5 month training program leading up to Sydney – I also threw in a few social runs and trail runs (because I love to do that with my Adelaide girls!) and battled through winter training. Dark, cold, rain, early alarms, coming home from work and not feeling like it but doing it (you know the drill). It’s hard work as you all know to commit. Closer to race day I had some niggles, my knees and right hip weren’t liking me – I have lived at the physio for the last month and had moments that this wasn’t going to happen for me. “What if my knees were too painful on race day!” I cried and then I put my big girls pants on and did everything possible to help them as best I could. I ended up changing my program and did less kms in the last few weeks than I was supposed to, and did not get to run greater than a half marathon distance. This was in the back of my mind, always thinking did I need to do more? What if I can’t run more than that? I went to Sydney with ice packs, foam rollers and fisiocream and said to my physio if only you could fit in my suitcase!
Lets move onto the real reason I am writing this..Sydney Race Day!! 17th September 2017
You could say I was nervous, freaking out, went very quiet (very unusual behaviour for me!) and was asked frequently how I was feeling, which I have to say made me think about it more than I wanted to. My non-running friends also thought I was bonkers, but my running friends thought I was awesome! The day before I was nauseous but had moments of ups and downs, didn’t feel like eating really but did, and was told by several people that were asking why I was in Sydney that I was crazy. Freak me out a little bit more! I had the most supportive people around me though which helped sooooo much and they kept saying it would be ok.
Race day started early – alarm went off at 4.30am, but I woke up several times throughout the night and it was like the longest night of my life. So I was ready to get up, get dressed, have my toast and get this day started. I knew I just had to get started and run and then hopefully it would just feel like another long run! But just a little longer! Got to the train and walked to the start, lined up for a long time for the loo and then ran into some other beautiful RMAs and got chatting, had photos, discovered there were at least six of us who were doing it for the first time. Wow! This felt good to know! I also met Kelly another RMA admin for the first time which was lovely.
The countdown was on to start, I started my watch for RUN and then stopped it and then started it again (the things we worry about seriously). And then all of a sudden we were off! I was running in a marathon. Oh my God! Once I started running I felt much better. My head was saying just find a consistent pace that you can survive this thing. Got to the Bridge! What an amazing thing to run across! I have nicknamed it the selfie bridge now, as the number of people doing that mid run made me smile. The first 12km for me was bliss! No music, just me taking it all in; the atmosphere and the city I was running in. Before long I decided I needed some music so I popped the headphones in and kept on running. I met another RMA at around 16km doing her first and we both said to each other we are going to finish this thing. The support from RMA girls on course was awesome! I made it to 21km, the half way point which was only about 10mins slower than my normal so thought I was going ok. Anything after this is NEW territory. I couldn’t keep up with the 5.30 pacer but was in front of the 6.00 pacer for most of the run (until they caught me and I swore at them). Finishing under 6 then became my goal.
I hit late 20km mark and the legs were starting to hurt, and my shoulders were super tight and the final 10km was tough. Throw in a couple of hilly sections as well which was just delightful! My hubby had finished his race and had started messaging me, my bestie and my close running friends. I could see three or four words on my watch and they kept coming through. My heart just soared and my determination to just keep going was spurred along. The message from my hubby saying ‘You are amazing’, ‘Love you so much’, ‘You can do it’, are all etched in my memory and will be forever.
It’s emotional this marathoning gig!
I played cat and mouse with the 6.00 pacers in the last 10km. I felt ill with about 5km to go. I had to catch them, so picked up the pace and did a sprint to catch them, I did this several times and they were amazing, until they peaked their heads back next to me grrrrr. I had about 2km to go and two of my close friends who had already run came and found me, ran beside me, encouraged me. I have to say seeing them a few tears came to my eyes. The amazing people I have in my life. They left me with the home stretch to go. The final 500m! The crowd was cheering so loudly, screaming my name, telling me I could do this and there wasn’t far to go. I picked up the pace, I couldn’t feel pain anymore! I could taste the finish line that I have had as a screen saver on my phone for 5 months! I was going to run to it and go through it. I was going to become a MARATHONER! Thinking to myself I am actually going to do it! WOW
The last stretch my hubby and son and my friends were all there on the side screaming ‘Go Mum’, ‘Go Katie’, ‘Go babe’. I could here it and I ran so damn fast to that finish line. I drank it in, I threw both my hands in the air and in that moment I did something I never thought I would ever do – I did something life changing, mentally and physically challenging in every way.
I became a Marathoner! I ran 42.2km at the age of 42! And I finished under 6 hours!
With my medal on and my finishers shirt, I fell into my hubby’s arms and whispered “I DID IT” with tears rolling down my cheeks.
If I can, you can!