Ever thought of completing a marathon? I had, but never, ever in my wildest dreams thought it was something that I could do, or even possibly come close to doing. Seven weeks before the Melbourne Marathon I decided this was the year that was all going to change. My friends and family thought I was insane training for a marathon in just 7 weeks. However, their doubts just made me want it more; I got the usual sarcastic “good luck” comments, but all they did was to feed my fire and helped me push on and be more determined to get it done!
Although I was a regular runner throughout the week the difference between the usual 10km run and a 42km run was massive!
I had to start training in a completely new and unknown way; bit by bit I had to get the km’s out each week. Starting off with a slower pace that I was not used too, this in fact this was one of the most challenging things for me as my body only knew one speed, and that was fast.
My weeks were now divided into 4 running sessions. Monday became to be known as my “easy run, slow pace” day, Wednesday was “the tempo and speed work day”, and Friday was “easy run, moderate pace”, followed by Sunday’s painful “long run”.
You don’t realise how much running takes a toll on your body until you complete a long run; in the end it would hurt to stop. My legs slowly felt like they were turning to stone. After each Sunday’s run I would struggle to even walk, making Monday night’s easy run at a slow pace seem like your worst nightmare.
This all started to become a mental game; most of the time you had to just switch off and not consciously think about what you were doing if you wanted to keep going. It was easy for your mind to start making excuses to stop.
As the weeks went on I would like to say it got easier but the truth is some days it wasn’t, there was not only the training side to take into consideration, but now you also had to think about your diet and lifestyle too – making sure you had adequate energy levels to complete each run.
If it wasn’t for my running partner, some days I wouldn’t have kept training. If this is something you are really looking at doing, having someone to share the glory with helps to keep pushing you along the way too.
We completed our last long run a week before the marathon and it wasn’t until then I gained the confidence and started believing that I could actually do this.
The day arrived and like starting a new job or first day at school I was nervous, not knowing what the day was going to hold – was the weather going to be okay? Did I have enough to eat; did I remember to pack everything? So much to think of; even though I checked my bag 4 or 5 times the night before and even once more in the morning, I didn’t want to be searching and rushing around more than I needed to that morning.
The participants started to gather at the start line, a sea of people in the thousands. I made sure my laces were double knotted, my iPod play list was on, and began to start to stretch.
The countdown began. I looked across to Luke for reassurance, I got the nod that yep this was it, we were about to head off. Slowly we started to make our way across the start line, the sea of people all started to charge forward, leaving each person with only minimal space to make their way up the course.
1, 2, 3 km’s passed and we started to gain some room to move, we could now get our pace sorted and set ourselves up for what seemed to be the most physically challenging thing I’ve done in my life. The first 15 kms were a bit of a blur to me, as I was focusing more on the surroundings rather than what I was doing. The area was all new to me I’d never run along this section of Melbourne before.
As we hit the 20 km mark we noticed the 3 hours and 50 minute pacer runner just ahead of us. Seeing this helped me a lot as our original goal was to complete this under 4 hours so it confirmed we were on track.
We stuck with him for quite some time, but slowly bit by bit he started to break away. We were at the 36km mark, our legs were getting heavy and we were heading into the unknown, we had never run this far before. My knees and ankles were now feeling every single step, looking around people were dropping off, giving in, obviously it was all too much for them, their minds had won the game.
I had to keep telling myself the hard bit was done and we were on the home straight. Not long now, nearly there, keep it going, I could hear myself saying. The MCG was getting closer with each step, the crowds were cheering, complete strangers handing out lollies as we passed to help get us through that last bit.
Finally the doors of the MCG.., I think I was the happiest I’d been all day, my pace started to speed up; we were there; onto the ground we ran. I never knew how big the MCG was until I set foot on the grass. The stands were full of cheering family and friends.
Across the line we went, a huge overwhelming feeling hit me we were done, we made it, we just completed a marathon!