Along the way to my second marathon, my journey was surprisingly ‘relaxed’, so how did race day pan out??
The day before the race, I spent with the kids. We did a bit of cleaning, a bit of shopping, a stop for morning tea, some packing and I even managed a short afternoon nap! As per the rest of the lead up, this day went smoothly. Something strange is going on, I thought, nothing ever goes this well. Hmm…
When my husband Michael got home we were all ready and waiting to go. We packed the car, dropped the boys off at their grandparents’ house for the weekend and hopped on a train to the city. We were staying at The Menzies Hotel in Sydney, right across the road from Wynyard station which was perfect for our very early morning train ride across the famous Harbour Bridge to our race start point in Milson’s Point.
That night we met many of the other Rachel’s Runners for dinner. The lovely ladies had organised a pre-run pasta meal at Eat Love Pizza in Darling Harbour. It was a great night of friendship, laughs, fireworks and of course selfies 😉 We talked about many things, but mostly about running. We made plans for the following morning – where and when we would meet. It was going to be another super early start! The question was – Would we get any sleep?
We got back to the hotel at about 9:30pm and Mike and I set about getting our final race prep underway. With everything sorted, we got into bed at about 10:30pm to attempt to sleep, but it was like a sauna in our room and we couldn’t figure out how to turn the heat down. So now, not only did I have race day on my mind, but also spent most of the night tossing & turning because I was so hot! Anyway, the night before a race was always one of little sleep, so I focused on relaxing until the alarm went off, rather than sleeping.
Just as I started to sleep and before the sun rose, we were up! I managed to get most of my quick oats in this time without gagging, as well as my go-to long run breakfast, a trusty Up & Go breakfast drink. We got dressed, all of our equipment organised, and after a number of last minute toilet trips, hit the lifts with all the other race goers. We giggled with each of them as they entered the lift, race bib on, phones in hand, some munching on a quick snack. Here we all were, headed for the same place! As the train arrived at the station, our friends called out to us as they’d saved us some seats and we were on our way!
We got to the start area and spent the next 30 minutes taking pictures, standing in LONG queues for the port-a-loo and wishing each other luck. Before I knew it, the half marathoners were gone and I was left alone to wait for my race to start. I thought I might start getting nervous now, but I didn’t. I felt very calm and spent the time walking around the park warming my legs up and enjoying the spectacular view of Sydney Harbour. I honestly expected myself to be really anxious by the time I headed over to the start but I just wasn’t. I even remember glancing down at my shoes and realising I hadn’t double knotted the laces (as I like to do in races), yet today I didn’t even care and just left them as they were. What was going on here? Who was this new relaxed runner?
When the starter’s gun went off I was really excited, still relaxed though and told myself not to rush out, as I had a long way to go. In my head I knew I could run the marathon at about an average of 6 minutes per kilometere pace and wanted to make sure I went out a bit slower than that for the first couple of kilometres and I managed to.
After crossing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, we weaved around some of the city streets and down to Mrs Macquarie’s Point. I knew it was often a tough slog back up from here, but as it was early on in the race I was confident I would be ok…and I was! From there the run heads down past St Mary’s Cathedral and back up and into Hyde Park. It was at this point that I got talking to a guy who was running his first ever marathon and guess what the occasion was? Yep, to celebrate turning 40, just as I had done earlier in the year. We ran together for a bit and had a laugh about running our first marathon at age 40 – must be part of a mid life crisis we said! I lost him at the next drink stop, but if by some coincidence he’s reading this – I hope you had a great run mate!
Next stop was Centennial Park. As we went up Oxford Street I was happy to see a big 30km sign on the other side of the road. I liked the idea of the fact that once I did my lap out there and back, I would only have 12km to go. So after all the winding around out near the Sydney Cricket Ground, the Football Stadium, Hordern Pavillion and a lap of Centennial Park I would be more than half way done. I saw that as a positive! I really enjoyed this part of the course. It was so lovely running through the park and there were a lot of people cheering us on which gave me a boost. Before I realised it, I was on my way back towards the city and even found myself calculating how much further I had to go with thoughts such as “Oh that’s good, I’ve only got 18km to go.”, like it’s an easy feat!
When I saw the 30km marker that I’d noticed on the way out of the city, I felt really good! I was running under pace and had stuck to my fuelling plan perfectly. I noticed I started to overtake a few people who had passed me earlier and hoped I could maintain this feeling. Obviously I was sore. You don’t run 30km and not start to feel a bit of pain somewhere in your body. But I’d read a quote earlier that week from Ann Trason (an American ultramarathon runner) that ended up being my mantra during this marathon – “It hurts up to a point and then it doesn’t get any worse.” and it really is true!
I was off towards the toughest part of the course – the hills of Pymont! This was the part I was a bit concerned about. Not only was it the last 10km, but also this part of the course has some not-so-nice hills. However, two things happened on those hills that helped me get through the nasty part of the course. Firstly, on my way out, I passed one of the 4:15 pacers! I had my eyes on these guys from the start and they were about 10-15 minutes ahead of me. I was so stoked when I passed one and that helped me get out to the Pyrmont turn around. Knowing I’d stayed on pace and steadily ‘run them down’ gave me a little boost to keep going. Secondly, as I was nearing about 4km until the finish, one of my Instagram buddies and fellow SKINS recruit ‘Running Todd’, called out to me and cheered me on. That gave me the boost I needed to pick it up and stay strong towards home.
I made my way around the Sydney Harbour foreshore and was met with many cheers from random strangers, but each one giving me a little something extra to pick up on. By the time I entered the final finishing chute I was so happy! One lady called out from the side “Sprint for the finish!” and so of course that’s what I did! During that sprint I had three girls from Rachel’s Runners call out to me and cheer me on which was so great! I also saw my husband who was so excited! He called out to me, gave me a big ‘thumbs up’ and a massive ‘high five’. That was the final thing I needed to really finish strong and just as I did I heard a massive call of “Go Rach!” coming from the Opera House steps – it was the other girls from RR. The ones I’d seen off at the start and now they’d hung around for 2 hours to see me finish. Such a great moment! I had finished my second marathon in my home city, surrounded by lots of friends and family and also did it right on pace…I managed an average pace of exactly 6 minutes/km for the whole marathon and finished in 4 hours 15 minutes!!
After that I wandered around in a bit of a daze, obviously tired, thirsty and a bit sore. Eventually I found my parents who had brought our boys in to see me finish, but had missed it amongst the crowds. Still, I was so happy that they had made the effort and Master Six tells me he DID see me. Bless him xx
I met up with Mike and the girls and we had a general chat about how everyone went. They’d all had great runs too and everyone obviously had the runners high, although one of the last things I remember saying to the girls as we headed off was “I don’t know if I’ll ever do another marathon. It’s really hard”. Looking back I think they already knew that by morning I would be looking for my next one!
To finish off I’d like to send huge thanks to a few people…
- The people at SKINS for choosing me to represent their brand and ‘make’ me run the marathon even though I wasn’t sure I was ready for another one yet. Extra special thanks goes to Viv for all of her help with getting me outfitted for race day and Matilda for being such a great coach.
- The girls from Rachel’s Runners, who provide me with ongoing friendship, support and huge amounts of inspiration. Without them I do not believe I would be where I am with running today. So glad you all continue to dream, believe & achieve with me!
- My mum and dad who mind our boys so that Mike and I can run in these events together.
- Mike and our beautiful boys who just accept that I’m ‘going for a run’ at any given time of any given day and never complain. Especially Mike, for being there on Saturday mornings (and most Sundays) to look after the kids so I can get up and out the door for Rachel’s Runners sessions. Without him, none of this would be happening at all and I would definitely not now be a two time marathon runner. Love you lots xxx
- Finally, all of you for following my journey and coming along for the ride. I hope you’ve enjoyed it and I hope you’ll be along for whatever craziness it is that comes next 😉