On the 1st July 2012, I completed a lifelong dream of running a marathon. I didn’t come first (obviously) and my time was a lot slower than I was hoping for BUT I did it!!
As a child I always identified with the story of The Little Engine that Could. I am the runt of the litter and what I have always lacked in stature I have always made up for with tenacity…
I tend to follow the road less travelled… and the journey to completing my first marathon is no different. This journey started a mere 7 months ago at the beginning of February and culminated 7 weeks ago on 1 July.
I can honestly say that I have been changed completely – by not only achieving my goal but by undertaking the journey. I have been changed in every way a person can be changed – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually…
At the beginning of February I couldn’t run for 3 minutes straight without stopping and gasping for air. Yet a mere 5 months later found myself running the Gold Coast Marathon… I started the race with the mantra – “I think I can” – and just like the Little Engine – I ended up chanting to myself, “I know I can!”
There were some interesting events that occurred during the day that I definitely wasn’t at all prepared for.
The first being the “convenience” breaks that were needed. My first “stop” occurred at 13kms. I had a little niggle before the starting gun went off but put it down to some pre-race nerves. However, by the 13kms mark realised that it was not just nerves and needed to be attended to. After some time waiting in line I managed to get back out on the road again. This is where the first or many mental challenges came as the pace setter that I planned on sticking with was well and truly down the road. A quick re-evaluation saw me running again chanting to myself “I think I can”.
I had a race plan that I would keep hydrated and so at every aid station I took fluids on board. A great plan except by the 39kms mark the urge came again, the port-a-loos were just there and so I thought to myself ‘I’ll quickly duck in and then finish this race off’. What I didn’t take into consideration was that my quads would not want to co-operate when I tried to stand up again. After an excruciating few minutes I managed to make my way back out onto the course and finish those last few kms.
Another mental challenge came around the 33kms mark. It was at this point a lot of the crowds were behind you while you weaved your way up through to the northern most turning point and then to work your way back to the finish line. It was during this section of the race that a number of people were dropping off, getting injured, or simple unable to keep going. I must admit that I was really thankful for a chat with a fellow competitor for the next few kilometres that kept me moving forward.
It’s interesting what confronts you when you are attempting something that pushes your body to the limit. And I confess the dark clouds that are often buried deep within raised their heads. I had been warned about the mind and what it does while running such a race but these clouds appeared a lot earlier in the race than I expected. So, I took the opportunity on the long road ahead to confront and deal with them and the sense of relief I now feel is indescribable.
The other unexpected change that occurred was that of an almost spiritual reawakening… As a woman of faith I guess this was inevitable but something I wasn’t expecting and something which has changed me, not only permanently but also, for the better.
The other amazing part of the day was the volunteers and the crowds clapping and encouraging you along the way. Strangers saying “Well done, you can do it!!”, “You are amazing!” Thinking about this still brings a tear to the eye.
There are so many people that supported and encouraged me along the way -
- Mumma Bear, who although tentative at first, caught the vision of what I was trying to do and was nothing but a rock through the journey.
- The Mac’s whose on the ground encouragement and the loan of their family saying “Spur On” was also an integral part of the journey.
- The TDH girls who plied me with the Elixir of Life (Coffee), you kept me training when I thought I couldn’t train anymore.
- Dr Major Cuz, who lined up at the start line with me and made sure I got on my way – heartfelt thanks!
- My dear friend, who took time out from her family to make the trip up to the GC and keep me calm in those final hours leading up to the race.
- Trax, the Bonster and Miss MJ, for making the trek also – the cheering and encouragement was truly amazing.
- Teacher P – knowing that you came all that way to cheer me on was just brilliant.
- Cuz’ P & E, you guys rock!! – will treasure that you were there when I crossed the finish line always.
- The friends in Wally World and beyond who checked in and were just interested in how things were going and the friends in FB land who encouraged me along the way, even though they were probably sick of reading status updates about training.
It truly was a group effort that got me across that finish line and a group effort that made a change in me for the better.
After I crossed the finish I had a little weep and I adopted a new mantra – “I am woman, hear me roar!”
I really do feel like I can accomplish anything now.
This is no more evident than in the fact that I have now signed up for a half ironman (70.3) in Canberra… Who knows how this will turn out but I know one thing is for sure – I will enjoy the journey…
PS I’ll be back to the GC next year to attempt the race again (and see if I can do it a little faster next time )