I’m sitting here watching my 4 year old daughter play hungry-hippos, while I wear compression tights for my sore quads, and I’m deliriously happy. It’s one day post-the Adelaide Marathon Festival, or one-day after my first half-marathon!
I started running 11 months ago, and was 18kg heavier than I am today. Like many RMAs, I started running to carve out some much needed ‘me time’, to set a better example for my two children (Eva, age 4, and Will 7 years), and to get a slightly better work-life balance. (That’s still a work in progress!) I also knew I was up for an award with my work, which involved meeting the SA governor, so I’d be lying if I said that wanting to drop a few kilos for the photos wasn’t an incentive also!
I had never really been a runner – in my twenties I had done a single fun run, which I loved, but the minute that run was over, so was my running habit. I wanted to make sure that didn’t happen this time; so in June last year I downloaded the Couch to 10K app, signed up for the City to Bay 2017 to have a goal to aim for 3 months later, then proceeded to go for 5 runs in 7 days, and immediately got the running bug – and my first injury! Hello patellofemoral pain syndrome! I managed to rehab in time, completed the Couch to 10K, ran the City to Bay where I think I smiled from start to finish. My son did a presentation in his Reception class (foundation year of school in SA) about how I had run from the city all the way to the beach, and seeing how proud he was of me just reinforced how good this was, not just for me, but the whole family! I think it was while I was riding the runners high from the City to Bay that I said to my family, “hey, a half marathon is only 9km further than I have just run…” and the seed was planted! I almost immediately found the Adelaide Marathon Festival – celebrating its 40thyear, finishing inside Adelaide Oval (wow!), timed 4 days before my 10thwedding anniversary, and very nearly marking the first anniversary of when I started running; the stars seemed to align, so I locked it in!
So the half-training began: I had no idea what I was doing, but I found a training plan that suited me – 4 runs per week, each run different (intervals/hills; tempo, recovery, long-run) with a really gradual distance build-up. I contacted my friend Bianca who had started her own running journey about 5 months before I did, she had just completed her first half. Bianca copped all my questions about training for a half – what long-run fuelling options worked for her, what recovery food and drink she used, and she generously gave me samples of what she used so I could trial them before buying. This support has been wonderful: to have someone you can flick your ideas past, complain to about the latest niggle / injury, and celebrate each other’s achievements has been fantastic. I had no idea that running could be such a wonderfully social activity and connect me with the most amazing and supportive community – up until now I had done all my runs alone. And then I discovered Running Mums Australia on Facebook and did my first social run with the wonderful SA group in February. Purely through RMA, I also met the lovely Dan Moore, who has become a great friend and long-run training partner; from the first run we did together, the kms have always just disappeared while we chat away! These two amazing women, Bianca and Dan are now my running besties (BRFFs – best running friends forever!) and between them I pretty much had company for every long training run! It made clocking up those kilometres so much more enjoyable.
I’ve been very fortunate while training for this half-marathon. After having initial injuries and niggles early on, I’ve been injury-free this year (touch wood!) and the training has gone really smoothly; my body has amazed me by adjusting to the increasing running load, and I’ve been blessed with the most wonderfully supportive husband, Tom, who happily looks after the kids so I can run and who has had to listen to my obsessive ruminating about all-things running! Will continues to be so proud of his running mum – running featured heavily in his ‘list of things I love about my mum’ that he did at school for mother’s day. Will was so excited about me finishing inside Adelaide Oval for the half, so it was a no-brainer that Tom would bring the kids in to cheer me across the finish line.
On Friday Eva and I did a special mummy-daughter trip into town to pick up the race bibs for Bianca, Dan, myself and a couple of my other RMA friends, and would you believe that my first half-marathon bib is the exact year my first child was born! How special is that!
On Saturday the adrenaline / nervous excitement really kicked in – I had mega butterflies! I’d trained up to 18km, and so was quietly confident I’d be able to do the extra 3 on the day, but this was still on a different scale to anything I’d done up until now! I was also a bit worried about the weather – heavy rains were forecast, but at least it was supposed to be mild (only 15 degrees overnight).
On race morning, I got up at 5:30, had my pre-race breakfast of banana on white toast with an instant coffee (couldn’t stomach the idea of a frothy milky coffee!), and felt genuinely queasy with nervous anticipation. On the car drive in I had verbal diarrhoea, evidently I’m a nervous chatterer. (Sorry Bianca, Errin, Bianca’s lovely hubby, who also ran the half, and Dan!) Then we arrived, and as we parked we heard ACDC “Thunderstruck” playing for the marathoners starting line-up! and my nerves gave way to pure excitement! It was so fun doing the photos with all the wonderful RMAs before the race, then before we knew it, it was our turn to line up for the starters gun. I was jumping with excitement at this point, and then the start-gun went off, and we were off!
The run itself was incredibly scenic – Bonython Park, up and down the River Torrens, past the Botanic Gardens, then winding back to Adelaide Oval to finish. I saw so many RMA on the course, everyone looked strong and focussed. Each time I saw one of you, I’d yell out “Go RMA”, and tried to hi-5 as many of you as I could! It really is such a wonderful community.
I knew Tom and the kids would be waiting for me inside the oval, and I couldn’t wait to see them. But unbeknownst to me, Tom’s 2 uncles Damien and Mike (both of who have run previously themselves), and Tom’s cousin Charlotte, planted themselves around the course to cheer me on! Damien and Charlotte actually moved around the course, so I saw them 4 times!
Seeing familiar faces (especially multiple times) gave me such a boost and I was grinning like an idiot every time I saw them! Then at the 18km mark, right when the fatigue was starting to kick in, I saw Tom and the kids on the Torrens – I didn’t expect to see them until I got to the oval. I have to say I nearly teared up (and am tearing up now as I type this) – Seeing their excited faces, and the amazing signs they made, was just the boost I needed at that stage of the race. The last 3km went well, I focussed on being consistent with my pace, and I really wanted to finish strong.
Coming into Adelaide Oval was actually quite overwhelming – looking up at the historic stands, I tried to soak it up and be really present in that moment. I spotted Eva and Will holding up their signs on the edge of the oval, and I got to hi-5 them just a few metres from the finish line. Then across the finish line I went, got the BEST bling (seriously gorgeous medal), and was greeted by Bianca for the most gigantic hug! A minute later, Dan crossed the line too, and more hugs were had – we made it! And not only that, I’d smashed any time-goals I’d set (I’d tried not to have a specific time in mind, as I just wanted to enjoy the experience, but based on training, I knew I should manage about 2:15). According to my Garmin, I’d done 21.13km in 2:08:21! I looked up into the stands, and there I spotted my mum and dad, proudly taking my picture! I didn’t expect them to be there, and it was the icing on the cake. Oh, and it didn’t rain! 😊
And that’s it! My first half, in my home town, surrounded by so many of my wonderful friends, family, and my RMA running family. You guys rocked it in Adelaide yesterday. I’m so proud to be one of you. And a special shout out – there were so many of us doing our first halves yesterday – I hope you all enjoyed the experience as much as me! – Lisa