Running is the thing I love to do most. I read a quote once about the women of Thebes who unlike other women of the time were allowed to run, and the feeling of immense freedom it gave them, that’s why I run, it makes me feel free. I still remember the first time in my adult, post children life that I put on a pair of joggers and decided to go for a run. It was a 3km out and back from my work, I could not even make it one way without stoping to walk!
Now, though I love to run its always been for absolute pleasure, something to fill my lunch breaks and social time with friends. Though I have slowly improved my times over the last five years, it’s only been in the last twelve months, since my sister suggested I join her running group that things have started to come together for me.
The Retro run squad groups have provided me with so much. Fantastic coaching from Andrew, great friendships, the Girlpac, confidence, maturity in my approach, great mentors and a reason to get up at 5am (still coming to grips with this one!).
Since my running had been improving I decided to set a time for my attempt at the Gold Coast Half Marathon this July. I thought a time of 100min was probably realistic. This would be six minutes quicker than my time from the previous year (and PB) which I thought was probably achievable. So I headed off to Macleay River Marathon as a trial race for the Gold Coast.
The Thursday before the race I had been chatting to Andrew who had casually suggested that 4:20ish/km was probably a realistic target for me, I thought he was insane! I mean I know I can do that pace over a short distance but I thought that over the longer course I’d just crash and have nothing left so tucked that plan in the “never gunna happen” pile (sorry Andrew!)
Sunday morning arrived and I woke feeling fairly nervous but otherwise ok. My race plan was still forming in my head (which is just the way it goes with me, it’s never finalised until the gun goes, but then I know exactly what I want to do.) and I managed to get down some breaky and a banana in the car on the way down. Getting race packs seemed to take FOREVER so once I grabbed mine I chucked my shoes on and and went to warm up. A few minutes later they were calling us to the start line, so it worked out ok cause I had no time to worry or get nervous. Mark shepherded me up to the front of the start line, somewhere I usually steer well clear of!
He pointed to two other girls standing near me (lets call them pinky and greeny) and said “I remember them from last year, they are fast those two, just try to hang onto them.” And BANG we were off!
Pinky shot off and Greeny was right beside her. We flew down the hill and headed for town. At the three km mark I backed off the pace a bit as per my plan of attack. I enjoy going out hard at the start of a race, but knew 4.10/km would not see me to the finish line! I wasn’t really looking to race Pinky and Greeny, just wanted to get as close to 100min as I could and work out a good plan for the Gold Coast. By the 4.5km mark I had picked up and passed Greeny. I could still see Pinky up in the distance but wasn’t really paying her to much attention.
We made it to town where we headed up the hill and there were Joey and Sian! Joey yelling at me that I was the second girl and she was just in front so I should probably put some more effort in. I had settled into a good even rhythm by this point and planned on getting through the inclines through town and out onto the river flats before I took my gel.
Passing Coles I could see Pinky about a kilometre ahead. I was feeling really relaxed and enjoyed chatting to the other runners near me. We reached the flats just before the Rotary dink station and I slowed down a bit before taking my gel, as per Andrews wise words of wisdom!
Approaching the turn around Pinky gave my a high five as she ran past, I turned and started running back, I was nearly there!! Only half way to go! I ran past Greeny and gave her a high five but knew she was far enough behind me that she wouldn’t catch me. The man I was running next to told me to go and chase down Pinky, “your not going to let her win are you?” He said, I just laughed, I’m not here to beat her I told him. At this point I looked at my watch for the first time since the 3km mark and saw 49min, knowing that I had gone over half way (I was aiming to get to the turn around at 50min) and I was so excited! I might just go under the 100min mark if nothing went wrong.
Approaching town again I knew I was slowly reeling Pinky in. I started channeling Jess, how does she run again, what’s her stride like, little steps, move the arms, breath, relax, smile, thanks Jess you have pulled me through more races than to know!
I could see Pinky up ahead walking through the aid station clutching her side, “oh no poor thing that’s usually me” I thought. But not today, today I felt GREAT! Pinky recovered and shot off again chasing the boys past the Cinema and back down to the 5km mark.
Only 5km to go! Excited was an understatement I was so stocked I knew I could do it and beat the 100min mark! Then my legs started to complain, “slow down” they said “stop this running nonsense, we are sore!” Good old Andrew jumped into my head, “the body does what the mind tells it” (love that one thanks Rowlo!). I’ve ran on sorer legs than this I thought, every Thursday at training, running of the bike, Club Champs, I can get through this!
And that’s when I saw her, walking up a small incline about 4km out from the finish line, “come on we are nearly there!” I said, “Just go and get it!” She said “I’m done.” Bloody hell, I might actually win this thing, how completely bizarre!
Coming up to the dreaded hill to the finish line I was still feeling on top of the world. I could see a guy a bit further up from me and knew there was someone just behind me. I pushed hard to get up there and then knew I could fly down the other side to the finish, and there is was the finish line, already? Really? I couldn’t believe it! I had not only got in well under 100min but somehow I had also won! I think Mark was in more disbelief than I was. He must have said so at least fifty times!
I am certainly proud of the time I did 1:34:02 and felt so relieved that I had not had any issues the whole race. Andrew was right I did surprise myself. I may have won the race but I didn’t really feel like I wanted it, or deserved it, I was just there to have fun. As Pinky pointed out to me the really fast runners were not there this year and I know I have nothing on those girls who can run it in 1:20 but hey, who knows, one day I might even be able to give them a run for their money!