Ready for an epic race recap? I’ll do my best not to make it too drawn out
Time to go!
I feel like I could not have been any more prepared for this race. I was ready to go – plenty of carbs, well hydrated, well-rested and feeling … springy.
Some time before 6am, my fabulous Mum and Dad drove me to the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground – our huge Melbourne sporting arena) along with my cousin Emily, who was running the 10km.
This was Australia’s biggest marathon in history – 7000 people lined up for the marathon, and 30 000 people participated across all events.
All too soon it was time to line up, find the 4 hour pacer, and chat to the people at the start line.
Some douch-bag with a microphone blathered on about pacing and being a smart runner. It may just be me, but seriously, if you aren’t running, shut the hell up.
There were 3 4 hour pacers. I followed the first one I saw. To get through in 4 hours, we needed to run each km at about a 10.6km/h pace.
This guy was running well over 11km/hour.
I dropped back to the second pacer (with Cait on my shoulder telling me to run my own pace and chick ‘em later!) – this guy was also going quickly, but at a very comfortable pace. Until 30km, I think I averaged around 10.7/10.8km/h. Each 10km was around 57 mins.
As I moved back, an older man came up behind me:
You aren’t doing much chicking. Looks like you’re getting bloked.
Stuff ya mate! He wished me luck as he moved on, and just for kicks, I passed a few more blokes.
At the 10km mark, I freaked out – my foot was tingling.
What the hell? This was something I hadn’t experienced before. I toyed with the idea of loosening my laces. But reminded myself I had intentionally kept them loose (and tightly knotted!). Passing through a drinks station, I quickly forgot, and after that my feet were totally fine (you know, for someone pounding the pavement for four hours).
I passed some people, and others passed me. There was a lot of luck and lot of smiling.
At this point, my fuel plan was flawless. I wanted a gel at every 8km, and a drink at each station (whatever I felt I needed).
At 16km I was 2 gels down. My stomach twinged, and I figured I should listen to it and let the stuff dilute a bit. I intended to split my gels after this, rather than to take them all at once.
The 20km mark was magic – I felt great, I hit the line at 1:53:00 and everything was good. As I hit the half marathon point, I thought of our friend Jes at rUnladylike – last week she ran a half iron-man (you know, a couple of weeks out from her marathon – no biggie Jes!). When she hit the ‘half-marathon to go’ point, she had swum AND just been on an epic ride.
That’s it Kate, imagine jumping off a bike, this is just the beginning of the run – go for it!
And then I got to 23km and everything fell apart.
This is also where we go into TMI.
I have stomach problems, and have had since I was 10. Generally I have them under control these days, but if anything is going to set it off, it’s running.
I downed 2 immodium before even staring the race, but at 23km I had that horribly urgent thought -
I need a bathroom. NOW.
Naturally, as soon as I finally saw a bathroom, the pain went away, and I hit my pace again. I downed my third immodium and moved on.
At the next drink station, I pulled out my gel.
Nope. It wasn’t going to happen. I was sure that it would be the end of me, my breakfast and my race if I tried to swallow any more. I chucked it aside and hustled to get powerade at the aid station.
Until about 32 or 33km, everything was ok, I was on pace, and apart from an occasional twinge, all was dandy.
However, I knew my wall was coming up, and yet there was no way in hell I could get another gel down. All I could hope for was as much powerade as I could get.
St Kilda Road is a long stretch, and it was a looooong time until I found my drink. By this point I was slowing down dramatically. I was running on empty and I knew it.
I almost got mad at myself, and then remembered all the advice I had going into this – forget about time; just run and enjoy it. I imagined Superwoman urging me on, and I hit the drink station, dumped a cup of water over my head, grabbed some powerade and chugged along.
Around 35km, some poor sod in front of me let one rip in a BIG way. Poor guy, I think he might have sharted (best word ever), and feeling sick, I wasn’t sticking around to find out. I chicked him.
In the high 30s, Mum and Dad were there, cheering me on. It was awesome to see them, knowing that I had run further than I ever had before.
All of a sudden, we were in the botanic gardens. Giving up on my 4 hour goal, I just focused on chugging along, one foot in front of the other. Single digits left, one drink station to the next.
Run your own race, go your own pace.
Then it happened. The terrible choice – run, or follow in the poor sod’s footsteps. I was furious with myself. I looked desperately for a porta-loo, but none in sight.
Instead, I walked for about 200m and concentrated on breathing. A man with the best of intentions encouraged me along – I didn’t have the heart to tell him that if I ran, he did NOT want to be behind me.
I picked it up again, only to have the same thing happen at about 40.3km. I gritted my teeth, had a quick walk, and figured there was a drink station within the next km.
When I first saw the course map, I was shocked that there was a drink station so close to the end.
Holy crap was I glad it was there.
At this point there was no turning back. Somehow, some way, I made it into the MCG.
We had about 300m to run once inside. I thought I had nothing left, but then I saw the clock – 4:08:45. I have no idea why I could push then, but I did. I crossed the line a little after 4:09, and immediately lost the plot. I don’t know what I looked like, but a volunteer grabbed me immediately after I crossed the line. Embarrassingly, she sat me down at the first aid tent, where I was told to sit still and drink slowly.
None of that! I tried to get up as soon as I could, only to find my legs wouldn’t work. With no thought other than ‘get out’, I shuffled down the ramp slower than I thought was possible. I cried.
I looked up, and saw Mr The Rake and Chelsea banging on the glass. I waved, and continued shuffling.
I finally got through the medal carriers, the drink stations and the clothes pick-up (which I didn’t use) and found myself outside.
Mum, Dad, Chels and The Rake were nowhere to be found.
I walked toward the expo, found a doorway, sat down, and bawled. I had nothing left. Nothing.
After what seemed like an eternity I stood up, and shuffled directly into Chels and Mr The Rake. I have never been so glad to see anyone in my life! They had phones. I could sit.
Realising I was in bad shape, they offered the world’s best advice:
You’ve just run a marathon! Feel free to shit yourself.
I loved them so much at that point (and no, I did not).
You know what? I finished. I finished a freakin’ marathon.
Anyone up for the Gold Coast half next July? Or the Rozelle 10km in December?
Give me a few weeks - this runnerchick is a runnerchick for life.