Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sydney Marathon

While we stood waiting for the start of the marathon Grizzly shared his race strategy: 1) do your best 2) have fun 3) no crying till the finish line. Well it gave me something to think about for the next 4 hours! We took off and starting running over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I have to admit it was kind of cool running over the bridge with 100s of other runners. Grizzly was the time keeper and kept us (hmm well actually me) in check - in fact I never looked at my watch at all the entire race - I had confidence that Grizzly would bring us in under 4 hours and all I had to do was follow his lead.

I was really looking forward to Centennial Park where my friend and her family were waiting to cheer us on. I have to admit when I did finally see them around 20km I was really happy to see them and for them to share in my challenge. We continued on our merry way and then it was just a matter of keeping on going to the end. One highlight was as we left Centennial park, the two guys standing on the corner playing a ukelele and signing Suspicious Minds. Along various sections of the course we had people running with us, but it was consistently Grizzly and I. The section through Darling Harbour wasn't much fun, in fact I was quite grumpy the bridges were hard work but it did bring me closer to my next markers - the Blue Peril and the little Red Car.

The last 1km was promoted by the Coolrunning Cheer Squad - which was much appreciated! I actually really enjoyed the last 500m, the street was lined with people and I clapped the hands of the little kids along the way. Just before the finish line Grizzly and I held hands to cross the line in 3hr 57min. I was estatic 33 minutes faster than my last marathon, I had run it with a good friend and I was greeted at the finish line by another friend. A great day was had by all.

So just because I like to reflect on these things what did I learn from marathon number 7?
1) Good company always makes the time go faster 2) sharing the marathon experience with non-running friends is very special for me 3) I have my running mojo back :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Lucky Number 7 Marathon - Sydney

Well its been a long time between blogs but I have been keeping busy after finishing the Pittsburgh Marathon in May. Despite or maybe because of my disappointing marathon in Pittsburgh I decided I wanted to run another marathon in Australia in 2010 and to continue another challenge. That is, along with my goal of running the 7 continents marathon I also have a plan to run all the states and territories in Australia. I can then join the Australian All States Marathon Club :). At that point I had completed marathons in one state (Victoria) and two territories (Northern Territory and the ACT) so I thought Sydney Marathon in September would work out well.

After the Pittsburgh Marathon I had a week off from running and then had an easy month and a half of relaxed running. I also graduated from my Masters of Public Health which my sister and parents came to watch .

Before I knew it, there was only 12 weeks left till Sydney Marathon so I had to ramp up my training and start doing those really long runs on the weekend. The long runs are hard work but absolutely necessary to the successful completion of a marathon. Luckily for me I had training buddies to run with for all of my long runs and to share the yummy breakfast afterwards!! During that time along with my normal training runs I did a 30k race around Princes Park, and a 32 and 34km run along the beach.

I was really looking forward to the Sydney Marathon because: 1) I got to catch up with an old running buddy who had moved to Sydney 2) I stayed with a good friend and her husband and twin sons 3) I got to catch up with a running buddy from Antarctica 4) and last but definitely not least I was going to run the marathon with a good running buddy!

The Sydney Marathon starts at 7.30am, that's quite an early start particularly if you are taking public transport to get there. I was really lucky that the friend I stayed with was willing and able to drop me off at the train station- thanks Chickie! At this stage the nerves were definitely kicking in and I was again realising the enormity of running 42kms - that's a very long way to run just for fun!

I got to the race starting line with plenty of time to spare and as always the first stopping point was the queue for the toilets! As I moved forward in the queue I heard someone call out my name to discover that standing in the queue right next to me was a Dutchy from Perth who had run the Antarctic Ice Marathon with me last year. It was fantastic to catch up with him and to meet his wife who was running her first ever marathon with a goal time of under 5 hours in order to qualify for the Comrades run (I can happily report that they made their goal time with minutes to spare). We had a lovely time catching up and he promised me that on his next visit to Melbourne we would meet up at the Ice Bar - to relive our Antarctic experience.

Around this time I also found my running buddy who had generously agreed to run with me with the aim of completing the Sydney marathon in under 4 hours.... more to follow!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Third Continent Marathon - Pittsburgh, North America!

I wasn't really sure what to do with myself after successfully completing the Antarctic Ice Marathon. It was truly an inspirational, rewarding, outstanding, unique and fantastic experience and I can't imagine undertaking anything else to compare to it. But as some of you might be aware after following my blog I love a challenge and having a plan motivates me to keep going, so this meant I had to come up with a new plan!

After chatting with a number of fellow runners in Antarctica it became clear what my new plan should be - to run a marathon in every continent. For those of you who can't remember primary school geography that is 7 marathons. I had already completed marathons in two continents, Australia (in 2005, 2008 and 2009) and Antarctica in 2009. My next question was - which continent to run next? Interestingly enough around this time a good friend had mentioned she was planning on running her first marathon in Pittsburgh. Now I actually did my first ever fun run (5km) with this friend and I thought it would be a great idea to be there when she and another good friend completed their first marathons!

With my next continent marathon decided it was almost time to start training again - although I did take a month off following the Antarctic Marathon. The timing of the Pittsburgh Marathon (2 May) meant that I could use the training for my annual King Island run (32km) as part of my marathon training. This did mean I was training long runs in the middle of Melbourne summer but luckily I had some great training buddy's to keep me company.

The King Island race came up quickly, this was my 6th time running this event and the race never gets any easier. In fact this year it was my worst ever run. It was quite warm and humid for the first part of the race and I really suffered as a result. I was already struggling by the 8km mark and at that point the only thing that kept me going was the video camera filming the runners. I managed to keep running past the camera and then had to slow to walk - I attempted a run/walk strategy but the rest of the field quickly overtook me and I was now the last person in the race.

I was quite disheartened and was planning my wooden spoon speech, right up until 20km when I finally caught up with a runner. Unfortunately for this runner he was feeling even worse than me and was cramping up pretty badly. Ironically enough just knowing I wasn't the last person inspired me enough to pick up the pace (still run/walking though). At this stage I caught up with a second runner who was running his first ever 32km race and had been ill with a cold all week so wasn't feeling so great. I finally got myself together and managed to run the last 3km into town to finish just on 40 minutes slower than last year!!!

The King Island run really had me doubting my running abilities, and in fact there were moments during the run when I thought I should give it all away. I could do the long-distance running training with no problems but if I couldn't get through a race without my dizzy spells than what was the point! I had already registered for the Pittsburgh Marathon so decided to keep going with the training and hope for the best. Interestingly enough I did a longish run the following weekend and had no problems - go figure! I continued my regular training runs along the beach (see the picture of my beach trail)

The training went quickly and before I knew it I was on a plane heading to America for my next big event, the Pittsburgh Marathon. The race website stated average temps of 10-16C with approx 4000 runners - quite a contrast from my previous marathon in Antarctica -4 to -9C with 20 runners!! Unfortunately for me the race conditions weren't so kind and the temperature was closer to 25C and quite humid for the first 5km.

I caught up with my two friends who were undertaking their first marathon and we all were feeling the tension before the start of the marathon. This was my 6th marathon and I don't think it gets any easier, I still get to the starting line and wonder why the heck I am doing this and 42km is really a long way to run! The gun went off and we started running, I spent the first couple of kilometers dodging and weaving around other runners and then settled into a rhythm. At around 4km it finally started raining and in fact didn't stop raining until near the end of the run but I was actually pleased since it cooled me down - although my shoes were quite water logged!

I have to say despite the rain there was fantastic crowd support along the way and I enjoyed hearing the bands. My favorite was the high school band and I also thought the nuns in full habits were pretty cool too! I was counting down the kilometers and really looking forward to the finish line at about 39km the hash house harriers were offering free beer - I did see a couple of runners take the beer!!! As always the last 2 kilometers just took forever but with crowds lining the streets there was no way I was stopping now!!

I finally got to the finish line and completed the marathon in 4 hours and 30 minutes. I then waited and cheered on my friends as they successfully completed their first marathons.

So what do I take away from this marathon experience?
1) I specifically chose this marathon to share the first time marathon experience with two friends and that made the whole experience worthwhile. To see their joy in undertaking this massive effort and successfully completing the marathon was priceless.
2) Although I was disappointed with time I can say that I was really pleased that I didn't have any dizzy spells (I paced smarter and didn't push hard in the humid conditions) and I ran the entire marathon with no major walk breaks.
3)Do I still want to give up long distance running? NO, in fact I signed up for my next race, the Williamstown Half Marathon at the end of May and I am thinking about plans for the next marathon!!!!
4)I enjoyed the big crowd support but ultimately the event is still an individual pursuit, with that constant inner struggle to keep running when all logic says you should stop!!!