I never originally planned to run this race. That is until my last two marathons were complete disasters. One I had back spasms and walked half of it and the last one I pulled out at the 32km mark.
To most people I appear confident and happy, but behind that facade is worry, fear and anxiety. Not to mention some health issues. Deep down I have always had anxiety. I can worry about anything and everything. For a long time I have been able to contain it and hide it. But recently it has got out of control and I have allowed it to impact on my running. My running became about (what I thought were) other people’s expectations rather than about me.
After the last marathon, some soul searching and a tough conversation with the coach, I decided to run this marathon. I needed to complete one without any meltdowns. Brad and I set a plan to run the Sunshine Coast marathon with a goal of finishing (without any time or pace) and, gaining back some confidence.
One of my biggest issues I face with marathon running is IBS and fuelling/nutrition, both pre event and during the event. Now if you have ever struggled with this, you know what long runs can do to this!!! Plus most of the gels/nutrition are not IBS friendly and it makes it tough to fuel. Add on top of that being anxious about it and it makes it even worse.
In all my races, I have tended to fatigue around the 30km mark and it is generally because I have either not had enough fuel during the race and not properly fuelled prior to the race or I have started to feel sick with all the “fuel’ sitting in my gut and then becoming so fixated on it that I cannot concentrate on anything else. The Race plan has completely gone and no rational decisions are being made.
So with 7 weeks preparation, I got myself sorted with a Nutritionist that specialises in marathon fuelling and FODMAPS. I started eating the right amount of calories to provide me with energy to run my training without fatiguing. I took the “on course” nutrition with me for EVERY run, to get my gut trained. The training plan was mixed up and with feedback fuelling my confidence.
All was going really well until race week, where I picked up a virus which in turn exacerbated my asthma. I missed most of my training runs and struggled to eat properly. I'm not sure why (maybe I was too sick to give a damn) but for the first time I didn't beat myself up about missing sessions. I kept telling myself that this next race was a SRF run… start, run, finish!
I did all the usual things. Got the race gear sorted, had dinner, had a conversation with a very patient coach and went to bed early.
Woke up at 4am, had breakfast and got ready. Did all the things that runners do pre race (LOL) and arrived at the race 45 mins before the start. I'm actually feeling quite calm but a bit cold. Thank god for my husband who hung around to collect my gear and see me off.
This was a little different. The marathoners and half marathoners all started at the same time. I have to say that it threw me a little as they all took off quite quickly and before long I was right at the end. The course was a half marathon followed by two 10.5km loops so it was a little hard to know where everyone was up to. During the race, the 10km, 5km and fun runners also joined in. so there was always heaps of people around.
About a 200 meters into the race is the first hill which you come back to another 2 times!!! So i just back off my pace. My aim is to finish. I do not look at my watch much. I’m running this mostly on perceived effort. I’m already telling myself that I can't afford to fail. I tell myself to just concentrate on the hill. When I get over it I come across the most magnificent sunrise. So I stop, catch my breath and take a picture. This is what its all about.
My plan is to take my nutrition at 45 mins and then every 30 mins, water at every aid station and the electrolytes at every 2nd station. I am carrying my nutrition in a hydration vest and at the 45 minute mark I start to take my first quantity and disaster strikes. I pull the top off instead of squeezing the top and spill about a third of my flask. Immediately I start fixating on whether I’ll have enough fuel to get me through. I have little messages written on my hands so I read these and decide that if I have to I can run into one of the shops lining the course.
Everything is going well. I am enjoying myself and not worrying about pace or time. However, I still peek and see that I'm travelling around the 6:30 min pace and it is feeling easy although my HR is up a bit. I get through the first half without any feelings of stress or distress and head into the first of the two 10km sections. I’m feeling good and in control until I notice the hill! I slow considerably here trying to keep calm. I can start to feel my tummy rumbling. My anxiety is slowly creeping in but I see a bathroom and just use it. As long as I finish, don’t worry about the time. I get back on track and just keep running reminding myself to enjoy. At the 25km I start to feel uncomfortable and nauseated so I just slow down the pace as this seems to help. I make it to the 30km point and remind myself that this is where it gets hard for me and to just put one foot in front of the other. 31 km and I start to falter so I walk for a bit and take some extra fluid. I am actually feeling really hot here. I see my husband sitting at the bus stop so stop to have a chat. He tells me to keep going and I see that bloody hill again. On the way back down I give him my vest as it is starting to annoy me. I figured I've got less than 10km to go I can put the gel in my pockets and collect water along the way. I’m not thinking about pace or times. I’m now fixated on finishing. I make it to 36km and while I know I have only 4kms to go I feel like I'm an eternity away. This part of the course is full of us slow stragglers only. Even the drink stations are abandoned. It’s help yourself. I actually start to feel a bit disorientated and have to tell myself to lean forward and move my feet. My asthama is starting to grab my attention and I’m stressing as I have lost my ventolin somewhere along the way. I can feel myself falling apart. However, I come around the bend and pick up the people in the 5km race that are walking it and they cheer me on which really helps. The last three kms are slow but I’m still moving. I’m nearly there. I’m going to finish! I run/shuffle across that finish line smiling.
It's not a brilliant time by any stretch of the imagination but I got there. The fuelling didn’t quite go to plan but it was better than usual and I didn’t panic like I normally do. I’m sunburnt, tired, feeling nauseated and my feet are hurting, but Mission Accomplished. Started. Ran. Finished. No meltdowns. No throwing in the towel. But got a nice one at the end though!!
Thank you Brad for standing by me. One day I will fulfill my potential I promise. Thank you Michael for being there and putting up with the crazy always.
Now for Melbourne :)
BPM Multisport was born out of the passion I have for triathlon, not just coach but to educate athletes of all levels to help them achieve their goals to the best of their ability whilst maintaining a balanced, happy and healthy lifestyle.
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