Running. Half Marathon. Marathon. Race.
I’ve been tracking these tags almost religiously since I started training for my half marathon. It’s how I found quite a few of the blogs I’m following. Maybe even yours.
In tandem yet alone.
It’s an oxymoron isn’t it? But that’s the only explanation I can come up with for why I like reading about other people’s training. Why it gives me motivation and why I heart all your posts.
I only mention this because I’ve read A LOT of race recaps. Lots of people who’ve conquered their first half or full marathons. In the weeks leading up to my half marathon the ones that stood out the most were the ones where the runner was clearly less than thrilled with the experience. Whether it was disappointment with their time or that they had to walk part of the race when in training they had always run I could just tell (and sometimes they flat out said) that even though they were proud of their accomplishment they were bummed. They felt they could have done better. They didn’t have fun.
These posts haunted me. Made me worry I’d built up this race too much. That too high expectations were already setting me up for failure.
But they helped me too. They made me realize what I really wanted from Sunday. And what I wanted was simple.
Enjoy my run. Have fun. Make an epic memory of a first half marathon.
Maybe these were silly goals. But my thinking was so much about the race was a big unknown, the one thing I could control was my attitude about the experience. Like if I stumbled I could either laugh about it and keep going or I could wallow and cry in a corner.
If you know me in real life you know that I laugh at everything. So yeah. Ending this run with a smile on my face was more important than any goal time.
Ladies and (a few) gentleman I did it.
Sunday. This race. It was perfect.
Here’s that hidden recap I promised.
Saturday night, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to sleep. I never sleep before big things. It felt like Christmas Eve when you’re a kid and can’t wait for morning. The number of hours I slept equals zero. Literally not figuratively. But I wasn’t worried because everything I read said the sleep from two nights prior was more important. I actually think it helped because I didn’t have that groggy wake up feeling us night owls get.
I took a cab with a girl running the marathon so I was at the MCG by six. I knew sharing with Tash would mean getting there super early but I didn’t mind. It helped get rid of any nerves arriving with a friend and I was able to just sit and take it all in.
The MCG. I still couldn’t believe I was going to run in here.
Finally it started. A couple weeks ago I decided I wanted to run with the 2:20 pace group. For the record that choice wasn’t completely random. The runner’s world calculator I used to train said I should be able to finish in 2:21 based on my Run Melbourne 10k so I figured why not start with them and if it became miserable slow down and run by myself.
But the pacers were wearing balloons and I couldn’t find who I was supposed to be following so I just sort of let myself get swallowed into the crowd. If you live in Melbourne you already know that the weather was gorgeous. Perfect conditions for a morning long run.
I started at my tempo pace and worried that I wouldn’t be able to go 21k. My pregame plan was to run at an easy pace for the first half and go hard the last 10k. But when I tried to slow down to save energy it didn’t work. Around 5k I stopped trying to fight myself and just went with it.
I was expecting to get tired. To get a cramp. To have my feet start hurting. To have that horrible moment when my bowels wanted to explode and I’d have to get off the course to use a toilet. To have my mind give up on me and ask to walk.
But it never happened.
The perfect songs from my perfect playlist just kept on shuffling. The top three marathon runners ran past and I finally understood that whole running is like flying comparison. I ate one of my gels and walked through the aid stations cause I know my limitations and drinking while running is one of them.
So many times I was filled with awe. Melbourne. You are stunning when you aren’t playing mind games with the weather.
And people. You are wonderful.
There was a moment when I was running around Albert Lake, and if you are one of those super fast runners I hope that once upon a time you were closer to the back of the pack at a race, because every runner should have a chance to see the same view.
Thousands of people stretched out as far as you can see. All in motion. Running together. A river of runners running around the lake. It was (at least for me) kind of magical.
And then all of a sudden it was almost over. I crossed the bridge and spotted Sandy’s sign and waved like a mad woman. As I was heading into the MCG in a moment of pure serendipity the song that I’ve been dreaming of finishing the race to came on my ipod. I couldn’t stop grinning like an idiot as I ran through the grounds. I just kept thinking over and over:
I DID IT! I DID IT! I DID IT!
Bold. Italics. And in all caps.
When I looked up and saw 2:20 I knew that I really did do it. I ran the race that I wanted to run. I had so much fun. Just like every other Sunday, I went for a run, and I felt happy.
My time (2:18:40) is the icing on an already delicious cake. The race photo is obviously the sprinkles.
I’m sorry I didn’t stick around and say hello to all you fabulous Melbourne runners. I got my medal and as soon as I saw Adam I crashed. I guess the adrenaline was gone. But know that I’ve read your posts and I am so so so stoked and proud of you. You are amazing.
This recap was rather long and self indulgent.
But I knew going into Sunday I’d only get one first half marathon and I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t waste it with fear or negativity.
Sunday was a lovely day. It deserves the write up to remember it by.