October 30 was the six-month anniversary of my first training run with Up and Running Online. Coincidentally, it was also the day I completed the Portland 3 Bays Half Marathon in 2 hours and 7 minutes!
My first entry on Streak of Genius, back on April 30, said:
With today’s training, I had pretty much achieved my usual running distance with Julia’s prescribed 15-minute warm up … eeeee! … and I still had the rest of the training program to complete! How much longer did I still have to slog away? 40 minutes or so?
So, in bang on six months, I went from experiencing an all-out MIND WARP at going on a 40-minute run, to putting on my (virtual) Energizer bunny ears and slogging out a half marathon in two hours and 7 minutes without:
Or keeling over in rigamortis!
I did, however, mutter a lot. Astonishing configurations of the F word.
Lesson learnt: with the right people (Julia) coaching you and a six-month dose of dedication, you can do anything, people, EVEN CRAZY WAY-OUT FREAKY SHIT LIKE RUNNING A HALF MARATHON!
And, if, like me, you drag your family on a 5-hour drive from your home to run that half marathon, you can be even more thrilled to the chops at that (highly uncharacteristic) dedication!
So here’s how it went:
The week before the race I was on minimal training because I developed Achilles Tendonitis in my left leg. This made me SAD and DISAPPOINTED.
Never before had I felt such an emotional affinity with professional footy players. True, I could’ve acted out by going to nightclubs and creating some kind of RUCKUS! and SCANDAL! but instead I did three 30-minute slow runs and rode my bicycle for an hour.
So, on the morning of the half marathon, I woke up at 6, added 43 songs to a new playlist on my iPod, and ate two bananas and half a gluten-free cereal bar. I applied lipstick, but not mascara, as I wasn’t really going for the ‘Alice Cooper look’ at the end of the race.
Around 8 am, I bid my husband and children adieu, and walked down to the seafront where I boarded a bus with a hundred or so other people. We drove what seemed a very long way past paddocks and windfarms and were dropped off at the base of a VERY LARGE HILL. Our start point was halfway through the full marathon course, and a few marathoners were loping past us to our winsome cheers.
I spoke to a few different people, and we all wished each other good luck. One lady in a visor and pink ‘Run Happy’ shirt mentioned she was a social jogger and wasn’t expecting to run the whole way or something to that effect. I can’t remember what I said, but it was probably something like POWER TO YA, ‘RUN HAPPY’ LADY.
Back to her later …
Anyway, the gun went off (I was listening to ‘Icky Thump’ the song I begin every race with, all four of them this year) and we all started shuffling up the hill known as ‘The Shuffler’. After, oh, 40 seconds, my throat began BURNING with the crisp sea air. And I realized the hill was quite steep.
Here’s a graph (we started in the middle of the graph):
After the shuffler, things quite rapidly went downhill, which is a good phrase when you’re talking about running.
Still, around four kilometres in, my knees started to feel the strain of the shuffler followed by running a decline, my throat was sore from the air, and the fact I had another 18 kilometres to run started to mess with my head a bit.
But I haven’t trained properly! I kept whining (in my head, I know the other runners didn’t care.)
That was only one week! I responded. And you did train!
OMG, SHUT UP! I added for good measure.
As the roads were open to traffic, I had to keep my music very low so I could hear vehicles approach (and also pay attention to the marshalls who would point us along the course).
This disrupted the Samone Mobile Disco vibe I like to keep going as I traverse the highways and byways, but I adjusted to listening to music lower than Spinal Tap’s 11 on the dial, and was fine.
Awesomely, local fire fighters and primary school kids were manning the water and Gatorade stations.
I said good morning to everyone I ran past because:
a) We should respect fire fighters and,
b) The children are our future, just like Whitney says.
As I ditched my plastic cup, I tried very hard not to whirl it in anyone’s face or all over their Sunday best.
YES, I may have been running for six months, but it doesn’t mean my throwing skills have improved. At all.
So, after much running and a bit of lurching, I reached around 11 kilometres and suddenly felt elated.
I was over halfway there!
I felt like I ran a bit faster then with less lurching and started to enjoy myself for a few kilometres.
At the 14th kilometre, I thought to myself City2Surf DONE!
Only seven kilometres to go!
So half the City2Surf again.
That wasn’t the most helpful thought, so I ignored my mathematical magic for a while, and by the 17th kilometre, I remember thinking ONLY FOUR KILOMETRES TO GO!
Less than 25 minutes, surely!
From there on, my body started to feel sore, especially my torso, but mentally I found it a lot easier to count down the kilometres. By the 18th kilometre, I started to feel very tired and ready to keel over in a ditch. I was also a bit disappointed at this point as I calculated there was NO WAY I could finish the race in two hours (a goal I had set myself).
Oh well, next half marathon …
At 19 kilometres to go, we were out of the paddocks and back in the township of Portland and that gave me a bit of verve and vim again. I was surrounded by full marathon runners (in red numbers) coming to the end of their course, and I started to think more about their achievements instead of my own.
So, while my mind was boggling “God, that poor bugger has just run over 40 kilometres no wonder he looks totally knackered!” I somehow found myself near the finish line 2 kilometres later, felt bad at trying to speed past said poor buggers (but did it anyway), and ran down the straight.
I felt relieved, of course, at the sight of that line. But then I saw Tim and the kids waving and shouting at me, and then I felt very, very happy – teeth-baringly so! – and proud of myself, indeed.
And, as I was thinking how generally awesome I was, super mama and all that, the crowd started cheering, wildly. Reminiscent of the 4 kilometre Mother’s Day Classic when I was upstaged by some cute kid in a tutu, I turned my head and saw the ‘Run Happy’ lady, the social jogger who expected to walk half the thing I SLOGGED OUT LIKE THE BATTLER I AM.
She bounded past me, obviously a local hero and well-seasoned runner. Well, possibly a social jogger, but seemingly more at ease with it than me, anyhow!
Before I could trip her over and offer a lecture on the ills of FALSE MODESTY, I hit the finish line and walked over to the kids and Tim.
Someone handed me a cup of water, but before I could drink it, Jasper started shouting:
“MUMMY! MUMMY I’M THIRSTY! GIMME THE WATER! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!”
And, so I did, because while I might be a pretty rad athletic type these days, I am a benevolent all-giving Madonna figure FIRST and FOREMOST.
Then, when the race was done, I was somewhat disappointed that I didn’t get a medal to commemorate my efforts (though realized that wandering around shouting WHERE’S ME MEDAL! wouldn’t win friends in the town), ate a giant Freddo Frog, stretch and then hopped in the car and drove to Apollo Bay, our next stop on our week-long holiday.
Never have I been SO HUNGRY, and, strangely, our car was packed full of sweets, which I ENGULFED. In fact, I am embarrassed to say how much crap I ate, so I won’t itemize it!
The extreme hunger kept on the following day, and then levelled out to normal proportions.
In all, I am exceedingly pleased that I achieved my goals. I ran a half marathon and, one year and one day from the date I am writing this, I will be completing the New York City Marathon.
At the moment, this feat seems almost as mind bogglingy CRAZY TOWN as running for 40 minutes did six months ago.
However, I know that with another year of coaching, eating consistently well, and continuing with my personal training three days a week, I will feel like quite a different person, physically, in November 2012.
An important addition to my training plan will be yoga, which I kept fobbing off all this year. However, I know this is very necessary if I want to hit that marathon in good form. All things going well and to plan, I will be more than ready for that 42.195-kilometre challenge.
MARK MY WORDS!
Thank you SO MUCH Julia and Shauna, for your awesome coaching, skills and encouragement. I hoped I would reach this goal, and am so thrilled that you helped me there.
And thank you Tim for shuffling around your schedule – by which I mean work – so I could run when it was light outside. Training in the depths of winter was a true team effort, and tough on everyone. And thank you, my kids, for being the tiny little treasures that make me want to show you that you can do anything IN THE WORLD you set your mind on if you keep on trying, and trying, and trying.
YOU ARE THE BEST.