2018 – The year I decided to run my first road half marathon as part of the Blackmores’ Sydney Running Festival.
By Kathy Crispin
Since starting my running journey four years ago, I have completed the shorter Blackmores’ distances, both the Family Fun Run and last year the 10km Bridge Run but this year I decided to give the 21.1km a try. Even now after running the distance, I can look at that distance and think, why would I try to do that? Actually, I remember watching many of the Rachel’s Runners members training for these same runs when I was doing the Learn to Run program and thinking “All I hope to do is complete 5km – how & why do these people complete these crazy distances?”, but here I am a half marathoner! Now I am one of those crazies too and I was thrilled to see many of them after I finished my run and have them offer their congratulations and support to me on race day.
What is the attraction of Blackmores’?
As Sydney-siders I think we often take the amazing features of our city for granted. Being able to run over the incredible Sydney Harbour Bridge for me is amazing! It is a bit hard at the start because the first 1.5 km is a slow climb up to the middle of the deck, but it is such an awesome experience. I think marshaling below the massive iron structure before the race is part of the beauty; the giant sandstone foundations and the massive iron girders that hold it all up all add to the experience for me. In fact, I really love the ‘old coat hanger’ I even rate it better than the Eiffel Tower, but I digress I am talking about running aren’t I? The Sydney courses are beautiful, mostly flat (except for that rise over the bridge and the hill in the 10km) and a great opportunity to set and achieve goals.
This year saw a considerable number of our Rachel’s Runners family take on all the distances on offer and with that we had many chances to prepare and train together, irrespective of the distance we were covering. For me, the training was probably even better than the run. My run wasn’t perfect, but much of that was due to being sick on the day; that one thing that we cannot control, well that, and the weather which was a bit windy too.
I have to be open and honest here, my immediate reaction upon completing the half was one of disappointment and this is why I wanted to share my story. I really enjoyed my training; I knew I was ready; everything looked perfect. But once I crossed the finish line, I looked at my watch and I hadn’t hit my goal; by 1 minute and 34 seconds. Yes I know, not really an amount worth worrying about. Let me get this straight, I knew I had just run 21.1km (not a bad distance), my running family were encouraging me and I was so happy to see everyone achieving their goals, but I felt disappointed. I actually wanted to cry; not those euphoric happy tears, but ugly sad tears. However, I am now able to look at the whole experience in a better light with a few days space (I say as I cough and type). I can clearly see now that I was sick while I ran (I could barely talk when I finished). I have coughed for three days now and I can see that 21.1km at best pace or not, is an achievement.
Running festivals such as the Sydney one are fantastic and Blackmores’ is a big event but not as crazy big as the City 2 Surf. I am glad I set the 21.1km goal and am also glad I completed it. There were times along the course that were tough; like at 7-8 km into the run, the front runners were heading back with only 2km of their run to go. I watched them and went into a negative head-space thinking about how amazing they were and considering that I hadn’t even hit halfway (we need to remember here that I wasn’t well, I didn’t realise I wasn’t well but clearly it was affecting me). Then there was the headwind around Hickson Rd – a savage headwind. “No problem”, I thought. “We have to come back this way so we will have a tailwind”…alas that didn’t happen! Imagine my rage when I returned to the same area to be hit with – you guessed it – a headwind again! Really, that type of thing totally sucks and messes with your head.
But what about the good things? Seeing your running friends on course cheering them and having them cheer you – yep that’s fantastic! Nothing beats the boost you get when you see one of your team members and they give you a shout out.
What is my main message about this event, other events and running in general?
To quote a well known sporting brand – Just do it! I hope that some of our amazing Learn to Run and Walk to Run family members read this and realise that there really are no limits and that you should never say never. I truly never thought I would even contemplate running more than 5 km and here I am a half marathoner; and after a few days contemplation I am now a proud half marathoner!