I woke up at 4.45am. The day of the race! I knew I had to eat breakfast, but my stomach was saying no thanks. I didn’t feel nervous really, just wanted to get going! So I forced myself to eat something small and light, and drank some water.
Two of the most important things to get right are you hydration and nutrition, not only before during training, but also on race day. To do this you need to practice during training to find out what works for you and I was hoping I had that sorted. My plan was in place, I loaded my GU chomps into my back pocket, all packaged into 5 equal portions.
Another thing you need to watch out for on long, sweaty runs is chafing! This can debilitate you terribly. I have worked out that although Glide is far more friendly on the clothes (does not stain) it does not last for the long distances, so Vaseline it was. All lubed up and ready to go.
Geoff drove me down to the start, and we managed to get a park quite close. It was still dark and there were so many people milling about. I found my pace group for 4hr30 and then of course I needed to go to the toilet (as you do). The queues were loooooong, and I stood there starting to panic I would not get to the start before the horn went off. 5 mins to start time and I was back waiting to run!
6.10am and we’re off, or at least the people in front are! We walk…..and finally get over the start line. At this point I am realizing that I do not have enough Vaseline smeared on myself, so am hoping there will be some along the way. The run starts well, there are hilly bits for most of the first half, but I am feeling good as I have done lots of hills in training. 2 kilometers into the race and my lower left calf starts to hurt, and it twinged and pulled all the way to 29K! I knew it wasn’t my Achilles, so at least I could push through, and as long as I stretched at each aid station I would be okay.
By the time I reached the bottom of the bridge I was still feeling fresh and apart from my calf, everything else was good. I had found a Vaseline angel at the previous aid station and proceeded to amuse everyone there with my antics while anointing myself on the run. There were Japanese drummers at the bottom of the incline, banging away and that helped with getting the motivation for the climb. I must say, the climb felt like a breeze, but I did not have a look around at the view as when I run, I tend to look along the road. Then I crested the top and off I went down the other side, and as I turned into the off ramp, the leader of the half marathon came flying past. So at least I made it over the bridge before that!
By the half way point I had lost my pace group. I was running a bit slower, and it did not worry me at all. I am normally so competitive, against myself and also others, but it didn’t matter. I knew I had to just keep going. My friend Heidi said to me when it gets tough to dedicate each kilometer to someone and why I was picking that person, so I used that from then on. I ran for my first husband, who had a brain tumour and passed away at 37. I said to myself that the pain I was feeling was nothing like his had been. And it got me through!
At 29K or so, Geoff was waiting and he jogged along with me for about 2 minutes. This was on Tamaki Drive, and as the race wound round the bays, all you could see were runners snaking along around the corner, into the distance. Each time I rounded the same corner, there in the distance was another one! Finally I reached the turnaround, and then it was 32K and I was in uncharted territory. I had never run longer.
34K came and I celebrated! “Yes! Only 8K left!” I cheered to myself. And 1 second later both my feet started to hurt like I had never felt before! I think this was the part of the race where I really had to talk to myself. I just kept pushing myself on, reminding myself to use my arms to get me through. I didn’t do all that strength training for nothing and arms can pull sore legs along because when you pump your arms, your legs have to follow.
This got me through to 40K and I decided to test my reserves. So I sped up and to my delight, I still had gas in my tank. So I started running past people and finally turned the corner to the finish. There it was, like a beacon in the dark! I powered towards it and flew over the finish line! (Or at least I thought I did, and it felt like it) It was over! I had done it!
I got a drink of water, some Powerade and a banana, and had all three while I wandered around, found Geoff and my daughter Kerry, got my medal, and nursed my sore foot!
The sense of achievement was huge, and also of relief. And the thought running around in my head was “Never again!”