Sunday, April 16, 2006

I still can't believe I did it!!!!!

Yes, I am still uttering those inane words almost a week after the marathon, but to myself now. I inflicted enough pain on friends and acquaintances, and lets admit it, strangers, on the day. And many many thanks to my very good friend, and ultramarathoner extraordinaire, Strewth, for posting my results while I was away at the coast. Tough life, I know!

Thank you all for the great comments - it was really lovely to read them all.

Also happy easter - I have got so much chocolate it won't belong before Fit CJ becomes Fat CJ!

Finally good luck to Run for Chocolate and Elizabeth for the Boston marathon. You go girls!

Now, on to the boring details, yet again (because I can’t believe I did it!):

Distance - 42.2km
Time taken – 3hr 26.40min
Av pace – 4.50min/km
AHR – 164; MHR – 176
Place – 238 (of 864 competing on the day)

Time at same marathon in 2005 – 3hr 54min (a 28min improvement)
Previous PB – Sydney, September 2005 – 3hr 40.11min (13min improvement)

Music played on the day (only those I can remember; it’s a bit of blur):
To start – Living on a prayer – Bon Jovi
The first couple of kms, when running with Tesso and JD – You’re the reason I’m leaving – Franz Ferdinand; In your honour – Foo Fighters; Walk away – Kelly Clarkson; Born to run – Bruce Springsteen
Somewhere in the middle of the marathon – Smells like teen spirit – Nirvana; Minority – Green Day; Twisted transistor – Korn
Catching up with Robert Song at about the 39km mark – The car song – Cat Empire
To finish – Get the party started – Pink (very appropriate).

It was a chilly morning – I wore my Cool Running singlet, crop top and cap, Linebreak cycle pants, Asics Kayano socks, gloves and my trust running companion, my ipod mini (I sound like an advertisement!). The nerves started to kick in when I arrived at the Telopea Park school for the start and saw lots of fit people milling around – why is it that everyone always looks so much fitter than yourself at these events? Instead of a warmup I made 2 trips to the toilet (“just in case”) and then went searching for Mr CJ who had my bag – he was standing in the coffee queue; I should’ve known.

Last minute strip – removing my long sleeved top, jacket and long pants, and then it was off to join the rest of the starters. I positioned myself ahead of the 3hr 45min pace group but behind the 3hr 30min group. There was very little time to stand around getting more nervous – the gun had gone off and the 30th annual Canberra marathon had started. I knew I had put the training in but a lot can happen in 42km.

The first 10km was uneventful – it wound around the parliamentary precinct affording some great views of Canberra on a typically crisp but stunning morning. Several hot air balloons hung suspended above us. Caught up with JD and then Tesso and ran with them for a little while. JD was looking very comfortable; Tesso was aiming to run for as long as she could but was anticipating pulling out at some stage due to her troublesome ITB. I could also see Clairie up ahead and that was the way it was going to stay for the entire event – she ran a 3hr 23.15min debut marathon – how awesome is that!

I managed to catch up with the 3hr 30min group and I briefly worried that maybe I was going out too hard – it was certainly faster than I had run in previous marathons. The 10km mark went by in about 47min – hmmmmm. However I was feeling comfortable so decided that it couldn’t hurt to sit with the group – if it got too hard I could always drop off a little. So I ran with Griffin for a while. My major problem early on was the drink stations – or more precisely, trying to get to the tables without being bulldozed by runners behind me and then finding my drink bottle among the many on the table. This only occurred at the first couple of drink stations – later on the volunteers would see me coming, find my drink bottle and hand it to me personally – it was so good!

I’m not sure where I managed to get ahead of the 3hr 30min group but once I had I decided to try to keep them behind me. I was still feeling comfortable and the crowds really helped. The Cool Runner cheer squad was amazing as usual – I’m sure they are the cause of many PBs because I find I always lift a notch after passing them *thanks guys*. And also big hugs to the Lovely Lulu who was out there supporting (and clutching a block of Lindt Lemon Intense chocolate!).

20km mark – my left calf had decided to tighten up so much I was worried it might cramp, and the balls of my feet were burning. Neither of these things had ever happened to me before so I’m not sure why they decided to raise their ugly heads now – but they had. So along with my testy glute, I had the Terrible Trio to deal with for the next 22km. Fortunately I had my music and I used this to zone out from the aches and pains I was experiencing. But I kept smiling – I figured if I stayed positive this could only help. I had also stuck smiley faces on my drink bottles which I collected at the designated drink stations (every 5km of the route).

The course has a 2 lap out and back loop and this is a great opportunity to see others in the race – those speedy front runners (my god, how do they run so fast for so long and so far?) to the middle of the pack runners (like moi) to the slow and steady plodders at the rear. Saw Strewth and JS looking comfortable, speedygeoff in his very important role of pacer for the 4hr group, Plu, Wobbly, Kit (looking remarkably fresh), The Hare, and many others. I caught up with Robert Song at about the 39km mark and mistakenly called him Greybeard – terribly sorry about that!

Special thanks must go to Eagle who I generally ran behind, with, and in front of, for practically the entire way. I made it my goal to try and at least keep him in sight though mind you, he was making it look so easy – he looked way too comfortable. There was a time whenever I looked around he was there (that’s when he wasn’t in front of me!).

The 37km mark of a marathon has been a bit of a problem for me in the past – I don’t know about hitting a wall; it feels more like running through mud! However I managed to avoid the 37km wall in Sydney last year so I knew it was possible to run a marathon without ‘dying’ at this mark. During my training for this marathon there were 3 or 4 long runs where I had to pick up the pace for the last 5-6km and so I decided that when I hit the 37km mark I was going to pick up the pace, just like in training. My drink bottles on the 35km and 40km drink stations contained flat Coke – a refreshing change from sports drink and the caffeine and sugar must help. That, and Espresso Gu!

Splits of the last 5km of the marathon are as follows:
* 4.47min/km
* 4.43min/km
* 4.49min/km
* 4.44min/km
* 4.56min/km

The Terrible Trio had upped the ante now but I knew I didn’t have far to go and I was not going to let the 3hr 30min group catch me up! When I saw TA filming at the side of the road not long before the 40km drink station, I yelled out that I was doing a PB – I was feeling very very happy. Poor TA probably wondered what I was on!

The longest road – I hate Telopea Park Rd. It goes on and on and on and on and on, and there are potholes to avoid. I’m sure it also rises just ever so gradually but enough to be a pain. But then I turn the corner and……

The finish - I can see the finish line about 100 or 200m down the road! What a great feeling. And the time on the clock is indicating that I’m going to finish in under 3hr 30min! No-one can wipe that smile off my face now and I can barely feel my feet touching the ground – I’m sure I’m flying to the finish line. And then its over…….I give Ian B a huge hug, I receive my finishers medal and I can’t believe I did it! Mr CJ misses getting a photo of me finishing because I came in too early!

3hr 26.40min!!!!

Afterwards I get hugs from Tesso, the Lovely Lulu, Roy, Vicki, Mr B, and Nerida. I talk briefly to Clairie and Iliketoast, Eagle, and JD. A little later on I see Plu. I keep uttering “I can’t believe I did it!” to all and sundry, because I really can’t believe it! It feels so surreal. The Lovely Lulu and Mr Lulu present me with the block of Lindt Lemon Intense dark chocolate – divine! (and it is!) And then they buy me a cappuccino. Gosh, my day can’t get any better!

We cheer Strewth through the 42.2km mark, which she completes in 4hr 05.17min, and then she continues on to complete the 50km. She is truly amazing and she was looking good. JS was running with her and looking good too. I had no doubts that they would finish the 50km and in under 5 hours.

Finally Strewth finishes the 50km – 4hr 56.11min, looking as good as when she left after completing the marathon. As well as being a very very good friend she is also my role model – she is one amazing woman. Onya Strewth! I am so proud of you – you said you’d do it and you did in your usual gutsy style!

And did I say my day couldn’t possibly get any better? Well it seems I was wrong!
First, I find out I came 2nd in my age group (woo hoo!) (Strewth also came 2nd in her age group); and then at the Marathon After Party, Wobbly Man gives me a block of KokoBlack chocolate. This chocolate is truly divine and melt-in-the-mouth bliss – Strewth and Mr B can vouch for that. I do share…sometimes! So thank you Wobbly!

The after party was a lot of fun – I really enjoyed catching up with everyone and it was so good to finally put faces to names – Cato, Courtlylove, Greybeard, TA and Gnome, Kit (finally we meet!), Owl, Tesso (thanks for your belief in me!), JD, Wobbly (of course), Robert Song, Wombat, Lucky Legs (another amazing 50km effort – an Australian record) and others. Apologies if I have left anyone out – blame it on advancing age!

Later that evening Mr CJ and I meet up with Strewth, Mr B, the Hare, Nerida, JS, Roy and Brenda for a celebratory dinner at Carlo’s. A great night and I drank my one glass of wine veeeerrrryyy slowly.

Mr CJ and I headed off to the coast for a few days R&R before Easter. Note to self – do not book a unit with steps next time. There were 14 steps up to our unit – going up was fine but going down was very slow and painful. My calves had gone on strike – they were tight as. In fact, it seemed wherever we went in Tuross we were walking downhill or down steps. Not that it stopped me – after all down one set of steps was a boatshed cafĂ© which sold a very nice cappuccino.

I managed to fit in a couple of walks when I wasn’t sitting at cafes drinking coffee, sitting on the rocks watching Mr CJ fish, or lying on the couch reading. Running? What’s that?!


Jen_runs said...

Woooooohhhhhooooooo !!!!

I can believe it CJ. With all your hard work, there was never any doubt :-)

Glad to hear that you enjoyed your post marathon-R&R. What a perfect way to celebrate your fantastic run!

miners said...

Good to see you back here in one piece so I can congratulate you!

Fantastic result CJ - well deserved, and well celebrated from the looks of things ;)

KIT said...

Hey CJ.... it was a pleasure to meet you :-) I was so glad to spy you out on the course and give a wave. That is an amazing PB... wow!!! LOL... I had the same problem with steps. Our unit in Canberra had 12 internal steps and Ray literally had to carry me up and down on Monday!!!

Hope we can cross paths again... maby Sydney Marathon (I am seiously considering this one!)

Take care and keep blogging!

2P said...

Losing thin CJ is ok but don't ever lose bad CJ ;-)

Fantastic post CJ and congrats again on an absolutely stupendous result - you deserved every second of that PB!

Robert Song said...

A great recollection of a great day for you. That last 5k was incredibly strong for you.

I'm defintely going to give the flat coke a go!

iliketoast said...

3 hours 26 minutes!


Your performance was absolutely brilliant. Tesso told me you were capable of it. I wish I had chatted more with you on the day before the race but my mind was mush. I really need to work on pre-race anxiety.

What a race, what a result!

Susan said...

You are my hero CJ! That was an awesome report! Congratulations. You will be my inspiration for my long run today!

Tesso said...

Great race report CJ. I'm still excited for you!!! That was just so much fun running alongside of you comparing what we were listening to. Wonderful moments like that made my (short) morning worthwhile.

Oh, and you beat my PB (GC last year) by 8 seconds by the way. I'm gonna have to pay way more attention to your blog ;-)

Enjoy the recovery. Relax. Brag to anyone and everyone about your great run. Eat more chocolate. Drink more wine. Life is good :-)

Hilda said...

Great to hear it this time on your words. What a sensational sensation of not believing you made it! It should have you still on a high!!

Great you took this week off running, this will keep you even stronger, what's next now???

Friar said...


Hope you are refreshed after the holiday at the coast.

And your post was great to read, and relive the excitement of what was truly a great achievement.

plu said...

Huge effort . Well done.


strewth said...

Wowee - that was a great report. What a woman! Hope those calves have settled down now. We need to catch up for a really good coffee! I have your problem with the chocolate overload - oh dear!

wildthing said...

What a great report. What a great run.



D said...

You are one impressive lady CJ!!!!

Ellie80 said...

great report! and i think that the steps sound like a common problem! hope you enjoyed the easter break!

Rae said...

AWESOME JOB! You need to come over here and run Boston!!

Great job with your marathon, I'm so happy for you!! Enjoy some R&R!

Lulu said...

Thanks for your Easter text message. We had a good time in the mountains but didn't eat enough chocolate!

It was awesome seeing you achieve your great marathon time! Glad you enjoyed the chocolate..

marathena said...

Way to go girl!! You are so awesome!!
Where are those pics from??

Ewen said...

It's so sad you finished too early CJ. That's one thing you can try and remedy for your next marathon. All the rest was good.

E-Speed said...

Congrats you had a great race! And with the terrible trio to boot! Awesome Job!!!