Thursday, September 15, 2005

The accidental PB!

Finally decided it was time to write down my thoughts and experiences of Sydney marathon. Details are a bit sketchy now - post marathon tiredness has well and truly set in!

I woke early Sunday morning, to the noise of trains rumbling below us - we were staying at the Harbourview Hotel. Great hotel, great view, shame about the train station! Stuffed around deciding what to wear, eventually deciding on my CR singlet rather than tri top (and so glad I did because it got very hot out on the course). Got a phone call from JS who was also doing the marathon, wanting to know where I was. "Still in the room" was the answer. I looked out the window and could see groups of runners off in the distance - mini panic attack. Had I missed the start? No, it was the start of the half marathon. Phew! By the time we got to the start it was 7.05am (the marathon was due to start at 7.15am). I couldn't find the 3hr 45min pace group so stood in the pack halfway between signs that indicated 3hr 30min and 4hr. Couldn't see anyone I recognised. Then it started raining. Great. The last time I ran a marathon in the rain, I had a lousy run.

Started slowly and it wasn't long before Flash Duck caught up with me - it was good to see a friendly and familiar face. It was an amazing feeling running over the bridge, with no cars around. However, I wasn't feeling too crash hot - my legs felt very heavy and I felt really tired. Finally I told Flash Duck to go on and not wait for me. Today, I thought, was going to be a very long day.

I remember running up Oxford St, seeing drag queens on the sidewalk cheering us on! Quite a sight! High fived a couple of guys further along. And yes, further along, there was that naked guy rolling around on the grass! By the 10km mark I was feeling very tired and was thinking that 42km was a very bloody long way. I tried to keep Flash Duck in sight and not too far in front of me. Had my first energy gel at the hour mark (I was carrying two gels under my cap).

Slowly but surely I was starting to feel better - my legs were feeling like they wanted to run after all and I decided to use the crowds along the road to help me along - encouraging them to cheer and clap louder when I ran past! And it helped! I started enjoying the scenery; seeing parts of Sydney I hadn't seen before. By the 18km mark the clouds had burnt off and the sun was out - not a good thing as then it got hot and humid. Passed Flash Duck at some point - not sure where. Tesso yelled out to me at some point too - she was looking really comfortable.

Heading back into the CBD, a group of us were stopped at traffic lights by a policeman - I couldn't believe this was happening. It seemed so surreal - this was the Sydney marathon and we were being stopped to wait for traffic to pass. One of the guys got really upset, hurling abuse at the police. At the next couple of aid stations he pushed and shoved his way through - not a very nice person at all. Saw Plu further on in the marathon - I think I surprised him as he was looking to the other side and he didn't know who it was calling out to him!

My main goal for this marathon had been to enjoy myself and to smile from start to finish and I stuck to that. No matter how bad I was feeling, or how tired, I smiled. This, believe it or not, helped. That, and not having a strict time goal. My secondary goals had been to run between 3hr 45min (on a good day) and 4hr (if everything went pear-shaped). I wasn't watching the time on my watch and because Garmin Girl dropped out a several times during the marathon, even the distances weren't accurate. Also, not running with a pace group (because I couldn't find them) meant that I ran according to how I felt. At the 37km mark I waited for the inevitable tiredness to set in (the usual sticking point for me) - it didn't happen. Ok, maybe it will happen at the 39km mark (as in the Canberra marathon) but nope, still felt ok.

Those last few hills were cruel - who dreamt up this course?! As if 42.2km wasn't enough, some bright spark decided we needed some steep hills at the 41km(?) mark. Still, I persevered and absolutely refused to walk at any stage - I can be stubborn! The Cool Runner cheer squad on the Cahill Expressway was just amazing - you guys are so so so wonderful. I can still see Jen yelling and screaming, madly waving pom poms, jumping up and down - I think that memory will last forever!!!!

Through a tunnel, then out in bright sunlight with masses of people cheering and clapping as we ran downhill to the finish. For the last couple of kms I had been looking at my watch, thinking there was something wrong with it because the time did not seem right. How could I possibly be running close to 3hr 41min, a PB for me, when I hadn't even been trying to do a PB?! But when I crossed the finish line, the official clock also said 3hr 41min so 3hr 41min it was to be, a PB by about 1min 40secs, on a course that I think, personally, is a lot tougher than Canberra, and the weather didn't help either.

After finishing I wandered around a bit, met O'Runnner and O'Runner jnr briefly, donned my LineBreak tights (which I think helped in my recovery), sat on the steps of the Opera House soaking in the atmosphere while waiting for JS to finish, walked up to the recovery area (who thought that one up - putting the recovery area at the top of the hill!), had a well-earned cappuccino (god it was good!), got to talk to Lulu and jen and Don Juan(?), Flash Duck, Go Girl, Tesso. Then off for lunch at Circular Quay and back to the hotel for a shower before heading off again with Flash Duck - to the Orient Hotel in the Rocks to meet up with Jen, Owl, JD, Tesso, Benny for a chat. A great afternoon! It was really good to put faces to names though it got confusing trying to remember 'blog names' and real names!

And that night? No Tim Tams but I had a Chocoholic cocktail - tia maria, kahlua, baileys, frangelico, chocolate syrup and cream. Perfect post marathon refreshment!!!!


Jen_runs said...

A great race report CJ about a great race. Well done *I'm blushing at the idea of you remembering me behaving like a crazy woman for all eternity*


PS That cocktail sounds like bliss (maybe we should also have one of those when you come to Sydney...)

TA and the Gnome said...

So glad you surprised yourself and did a PB and that you got to enjoy the rest of the day. We'll just have to wait for another race to meet.


Wobbly man said...

I want to know where you got that drink from! It definitely warrants further investigation!

(oh, nice race report too..)

Susan said...

OHG CJ, I think I might cry. All this training is starting to take it's toll on me. Great job - sounds like a fabulous race and so much fun.

This will be my first serious marathon - I've done two before but walked a good portion of those. My goal for Chicago is 4 hours. But my training time indicates that I'll finish around 4:30. I'm hoping that going north and getting into some cooler temps and having 40,000 other with me will help.

I'll certainly get one of those chocolate cocktails after too!

Tesso said...

CJ, congrats again on such a fantastic run and of course that PB! I really take my hat off to you, refusing to walk those nasty hills. Oh to be so stubborn!

Every time I saw you I thought you looked strong and focussed, and from about 36k onwards was waiting for you to pass me. I just wish I could've mustered up the energy to keep up with you when you did!

See you on the start line in Canberra next year if not before.

PS As a fellow chocoholic I'm not sure whether or not to thank you for describing that cocktail. I feel like one right now and its only 10am :-)

AuntyK said...

Hi CJ,

Thanks for the great report. :)

You have given me hope that I can maybe manage Melbourne, and get through in one piece.

Take care,


ps. Post marathon drinkie sounds perfect to me!!

Lulu said...

Congratulations again on your accidental PB! Not really accidental though because you have done the hard work in the training and your determination did the rest.. very inspirational and I'm looking forward to some chocolate moments when you are up in Sydney!

allrounder said...

ohh, i got goosebumps reading that, you made amarathon sound like fun (after the first bit anyway!)...

hope you have a good run on sunday...

D said...

Awesome! (I can't believe you had to wait for traffic during your marathon. That could've really thrown your run off. I'm going to try your smiling approach in Chicago! That chocoholic cocktail sounds delicious! Good luck on Sunday!!

Horrie said...

Fantastic run CJ. I saw you coming back from the City West link as we were heading out, although I didn't know who you were, you were looking good. Awesome run to run a PB on that course in those conditions. Sorry I didn't get to talk to you at the Orient. Maybe next time.

Joe said...

Looks good ! I wll be back



KIT said...

Great repot CJ!! Fantastic effort..I was there with Lulu and Jen and Owl (etc) cheering you all home... inspirational stuff I ahve to say! What an awsome effort to do a pb on such a tough course :) I think you went into this with a great attitude... to relax and enjoy- it paid off! Hopefully we will get a chance to meet up one of thes races ??? maby canberra.
That cocktail sounds deadly :)

Rae said...

Hey! Thanks for stopping by my blog. What a great marathon report, and congrats on your PR. My next big run is a half marathon in Memphis in December and I'm planning to run my first full marathon in Janury. Right now I'm trying to decide between the Arizona marathon and the Miami marathon and I go back and forth every single day!! I would **Love** to visit Australia some day and run with you!!!!