Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Melbourne 1/2 Marathon - the Event

The alarm went off at 4.50am & I bounded out of bed after a reasonable nights sleep.  As I said yesterday, I did dream I'd forgotten to bring & pin on my race number which had a timing chip in it & I didn't get an official time!!!

A quick shower & I donned the gear I'd laid out the night before.  The 1/2 Marathon didn't start until 8am, but there were 8,000+ marathoners, 10,000 10km-ers & 11,000 1/2 marathoners all starting between 7 & 8am along with the wheel chair marathoners so traffic & parking was bound to be chaotic.  Public Transport didn't start early enough for me to use that either, so Plumbing Boy was volunteered (by me!) to be my chauffeur for the day.

I was still undecided as to how many layers to wear, considering the forecast was for a top of 16 degrees C with rain (& possible hail in the afternoon).  In the end I went with my favorite running singlet & long sleeve running top over it.  I also chucked on a pair of trackies over my running tights, a hoodie over my running top & a wind breaker as well.  I felt a bit like I was going to the snow!!!  But after being so cold before the last 10km event, I was taking advantage of having a gear holder!!!

Breaky was my usual running fare - half a multi grain muffin topped with Almond, Cashew & Brazil nut spread & as much banana I could manage to smush on top.  Plus a little water.  Didn't want to have to pee halfway through the event!!

We arrived in East Melbourne at 6.10am & managed to snaffle a non timed loading zone park (virtually on the corner of Clarendon & Victoria Parade for those of you who know Melbourne - & that was as close as we could get at that hour!!!!) & walked to the MCG.  

Sussed out where the starting point was & then wandered into the G so Plumbing Boy could see where he would be waiting & watching from & to sort a rendezvous point for after the run.  The marathoners started at 7am & the 10kms at 7.30am.  It was interesting watching people of all shapes, sizes, ages & ethnicity all buzzing about getting ready to run.

At around 7.30am we decided to wander down to the starting point as I didn't want to be late.  I had read that there were were pacers in the race & had planned to find & stick with the 2hr pacer, but I had no hope of finding them.  There were 11,000 people all queued up on Brunton avenue awaiting the start, behind the 10,000 10km runners who's start was running late!

Finally it was time to lose the trackies, hoodie & I'd decided the windbreaker as well as it was quite still.

So, here I am looking quite calm & relaxed just before starting!!  It was so much easier having someone with me to hold all my excess stuff & I was definitely warmer than I was last time I ran the 10km event having been able to keep my warm clothes on for much longer!!

Finally it was time for the 1/2 marathoners to start, it took me a whole (longer) Spiderbait song (approximately 4 minutes) for me to get from where I was to the actual starting line.  There was a bit of a walk then a bit of a shuffle, then slowed back to a walk as people had gotten a bit too excited & a bit to bunched up before starting to shuffle again & then jog & then we were off!!!

It was quite difficult in the beginning finding a clear route around people who were running slower than I was!!  I found the 1/2 marathon group on the whole were much politer & more considerate runners the the last 10km event I ran in.  There seems to be a hand signal some runner use as they are about to run in front of you - like an indicator - so you know they are coming through & will run faster than you.  It is very frustrating when people over take you & then run slower than you!!

half marathon route is in green

Kms 1 - 5 were uneventful other than dodging people & trying to decide whether or not to take off my long sleeve top!!  The first marker I saw was 4kms & I was 3 minutes ahead of time at this point.  I actually retained this all the way through to 16kms.  I made it to 5kms before taking off my top & tying it around my waist with my race number now on my butt!!

By 8kms my knees started to hurt, particularly the left one which was the one that had been giving me the most grief recently.  

I just had to grit my teeth & work through it.  I'd trained to hard too give up now, however there were points where I could have stopped & walked.  Corners & running in anything other than a straight line got progressively more difficult the further I ran.

There were people lining the streets & particularly in the last half there were kids high fiving you as you ran past.  Unless I was in that outside lane at the time it just hurt to much to veer quickly towards them to give them a high five.

As per the map we ran down St Kilda road, right in to Barkly Street when we reached St Kilda, then right to run anti clockwise around Albert Park Lake.  I was hanging out for the half-way point, as in my mind then I would be on the home straight.  

I actually braved a drink station at around this point – I’ve been training without hydrating – my PT Ok’d it in the cooler weather, providing I hydrate well the day or 2 prior.  It reconfirmed why I stay away from them if I can – people stop dead in front of you to grab a drink then walk while drinking!!  The idea is to keep moving.  I got caught up in said walkers & almost tripped over.

I'd never actually been to Albert Park Lake before – they have a Formula 1 Grand Prix race there so I was trying to keep my mind occupied with thoughts of racing cars & looking at the condition of the road as I ran around it.  

At around the 8km mark I’d settled into a steady pace behind a guy & a girl who were running together.  Guy looked like he was doing it easy – as in he could have run it backwards - but was obviously running it with the girl.  I made it a bit of a mission to stick with them as I was worried my pace would drop with the increasing discomfort of my knees.

There was a switch back 2/3rds of the way around the lake, then back to Barkly street & back down St Kilda road, the way we’d come.  In Barkly Street we were joined by some Marathoners on the way back!!  Mind you we’d seen & cheered on the front runners at around our 4th KM – they were almost done as we were just starting!!  The fastest guy finished 2hrs 10 mins 47 sec & girl 2.26.05 in the marathon, both breaking records.

After the 11th KM, I didn't see another KM marker until 16kms, girl had started walking around 2kms prior & guy had taken off.  I wasn't following anyone anymore, I was just trying to finish.  

There were times when I could have stopped & walked, however I knew if I stopped I probably wouldn't physically have been able to start running again.  Plus, I’d trained so hard & wanted to run the whole way!  At this point I started counting my breaths to 100, over & over to take my mind of the pain as was I struggling to get into that easy meditative state.

We hung a left at Southbank Bvd, where I got a lung full of cigarette smoke – thanks to that particular spectator!!  More & more people were lining the streets & cheering us on.  Right into Sturt Street & under St Kilda road, along Alexandra Avenue, Right into Linlithgow, then right back onto St Kilda Road.  

There was another drink station & a volunteer yelled out “you're inside 3kms now” and I thought no way is it 3kms to the G from here – it has to be closer!!  Over the Yarra & right down through Birrarung Marr to the William Barak foot bridge.  I remembered the lady behind me in the queue while waiting for the upgrade telling me about this point – the uphill on the footbridge being a bit of a killer at the end of the run.

Lots of people were stopping & walking up the ramp & I thought to myself if anyone stops in front of me I’m going to punch them in the head, as again, I knew if I had to stop for any reason, I probably wouldn't be able to start again.  

I manage to thread a path through the walkers & runners without too many direction changes & I could see the MCG looming – it’s always huge, but felt much bigger today.

Then I realized we had to turn left at the bottom of the bridge & run a bit further around the back side of the G to get to the entrance.  I almost cried doing that left turn as it was pretty sharp & I was bunched in by other runners. 

Almost there.  Up ahead I see an older man has collapsed just outside the entrance to the MCG & medics are trying to run across the runners to get to him.  I felt really bad just running past him.  

Finally we were on the hallowed turf of the MCG.  Again, the lady in the queue behind me had given me the heads up here too: they had put matting down for us to run on which did feel really odd as she said it would, & as suggested, I avoided it where I could & ran on the turf.  She also said it was a bit weird running in as usually the roar of the crowd at the G is huge, but when only a 1/8th full, the roar is somewhat diminished!!  I couldn't hear it anyway as I had my ear buds in – which worked an absolute treat & cannot more highly recommend them – Plumbing Boy said I looked quite distressed but very focused & did not hear him cheering me across the finishing line!!  

I did glance about, but couldn't see him amongst the crowd – I just wanted to get over that line!  He did say “thank god you wore the Orange sneakers otherwise I mightn't have spotted you as you were 15 deep”!  There were 3 or 4 lanes of matting with turf lanes in-between – marathoners were on the outside & we were on the inside lanes – with me running right on the inside of the ground on the turf - he had a few runners to look through to spot me!!

Finally I was done.  I didn't stop to stretch, I just wanted to get off the ground, get a drink & find my warm clothes!  It had just started to spit & there was a massive queue to get off the ground.  I think it took 10 minutes or so to get up the race, get my finishers medal & get down into the area where the drinks & fruit were out of the weather.  

I drank down my water & grabbed a poweraid & an apple. The apple was so good!!!  But everything was chilled & I was getting really cold now from carrying & ingesting them!!  I hobbled my way back to the rendezvous point & gave all the cold stuff to PB (I never got around to drinking the poweraid – was too cold); dumped as much of my wet (sweaty) clothing as I could without getting nekid in public & pulled on my warm dry layers!!

It had now started to rain in earnest & we got quite wet getting back to the car as I was so slow!!  One lady stopped & said to me – “oh my god, if you are walking like this how on earth did you manage to run”!!!  I was in pretty bad shape & neither knee would bend.  I was kind of shuffling & stairs, down in particular were not good at all.  I’d brought my ice pack in a eski with my celebratory bottle of champers to have with lunch later, so applied that as soon as we got back to the car, while cranking up the heater to defrost!!  

I shared my recovery iced chocolate protein drink with PB who still hadn't had breakfast as he couldn't be bothered waiting in a queue for anything!!!

I guess it’s all sounding doom & gloom at this stage but I really was in a fair bit of pain.  I lost the 3 minutes I’d been up over the last 5kms but in the end, according to my goals, I had a good run: I finished the race without stopping i.e. ran the whole distance.  

My final time was 2 hrs 7 minutes & 35 seconds – only 1 minute & 35 seconds off having a great run, so I guess that’s not too bad; ended up running at 6.03 minutes per km.  I didn't use the app on my phone so don't have the splits compare, but I’d have liked to been under 6 minutes & maybe if I hadn't attempted a couple of water stations yada yada yada…………who knows.  

There is always next year!  There was an app whereby you punched in the bib number & could supposedly watch the competitor run the race – Dad said it was woeful & couldn't see me, but my sis watched my “dot” run around the MCG!!  According to the App my time was 2hrs & 2 minutes!!  I wish!!

I did like that at all times, there were runners as far ahead as I could see, & by my placing in the middle of the field, there would have been runners behind me as far as the eye could see.  

I came 5,751 overall in a field of 11,000; I was the 2,617th female competitor & 417th in the 40 – 47 year old age bracket for my event.  

The winners of the half marathon came in at 61.57 minutes (men's) & 71.23 (ladies).  As I've said before, I’ll never be a great runner, I’ll never win a race, but I’m OK with that.  

As I said earlier, the ½ marathoners on the whole were vastly more considerate & polite than the 10km fields I've been in – I guess ½ marathoners may be more experienced runners & I really appreciated those runners who did their best to not hold anyone up.

I think I enjoyed the training more than the actual race day; although had my knees been in better shape I am sure this time that would have been different.  I was in a much better mindset that any of the other fun runs I've done in the past.  I was quite calm at the start, slept OK the night before, was confident I could run the distance, the only thing worrying me was said knees.

Our god daughter has been inspired with all my running & wants to do this event with me next year.  So yes, despite the pain I do want to give it another crack next year & my goal will be to either run it with her (if she manages to do the training for it) &/or to beat my time for this year.  I really want that sub 2 hours!!!  Before that I have to sort out my knees.  

Next project is Operation Knee Rehab.  Watch this space.

And finally, just to prove I really did it (and thank you for reading all the way through!!!), here is an official race day photo - I was too cold & stuffed to bother taking one myself when I finished - taken in the first 5kms as I'm still wearing sleeves!


C said...

Wow, what an achievement, especially given your injuries!!! I just wish I had half your motivation and energy.

Great picture, how do they manage to find you and make that little image with your time? Seems very well organised!

Also, with your time, perhaps you need to factor in how many times you had to get around people or were stopped or held up by slow people. I bet you could have easily wiped that 5 minutes off if you had a clear path the entire time.

I hope you celebrated with a big burger and a glass of wine! ;)


AlleyCat said...

Thanks Clarissa!! They are very organised to go through the pic's & match with bib numbers!!!! the timing chip is on the inside of the number & I should have had a pic coming through the finish line, but as it was now on my behind they couldn't match me!!!!

Yes, too true losing time dodging people etc. Thank you :0)

I had a lovely chicken burger with salted rosemary chunky chips & a couple of glasses of bubbles with a couple of mates for lunch before coming home for a long soak in the bath & glass of red to celebrate!!!!


Cinders said...

This bought a little tear to my eye - I'm so proud of you :)

Amazing effort and the grit to get through the knee pain is very inspirational.

Well done once again x

AlleyCat said...

Naawwwww Thanks Cinders!!!!! Sniff.... xo

Georgia said...

What a bloody brilliant run! I am in awe of your speediness - well done! :)

AlleyCat said...

Awww Thanks Georgie!! I don't think I'm that fast!!!

But I am feeling the lurve!!!

Chris H said...

I am so glad you finished without giving up. Well done Chick... YOU ROCK.