Lee runs 42 at 42 – I did it!

by Lee on October 21, 2013 · 39 comments

in health issues

It’s been a week since the Melbourne Marathon and I might be giving the ending away here, but yes I finished.

To be honest I did it slower than I expected. I feel okay about that, but have that feeling of wishing I could do it again so I could rectify a few things. That said, I loved it. The last 10k were bloody hard, but not enough for me to not have done it with a smile on my face.

The day started at 5am as the race started at 7am. I had booked a taxi the night before for 5.50am so I got up and ate (toast with mashed banana and peanut butter if you are interested, a coffee and a juice/ water combo), had a quick shower to loosen up a stiff back and got dressed, which most athletes would say is kind of a methodical process.

At 5.40 the J-bomb woke up, horrified that I wasn’t in bed with him (blooming breast fed, co-sleeper that he is), so I popped back into bed to give him a quick feed, which I was happy about as he is used to having a feed in the morning. At 5.50am I was trying to pass him over to Mr J so I could wait outside for the taxi and his screaming woke up Miss A. I went to give her a cuddle and explain what was going on and soon it was 6am and there was no sign of the taxi, at which point Mr J offered to drive me.

So jumpers were thrown on the kids and we piled into the car to drive to the G, which meant I had to share my pretzels on the way in. We had an awesome run from north east Melbourne and Mr J dropped me off at Jolimont Station at about 6.15am. I had three jobs to do; 1. put my warm clothes bag in, 2. go to the toilet and 3. get to the starting line and find the 4.30 pacer (that’s a person that runs the race a pace that will get you to the finish line at a time goal if you tag along with them).

So, I’m looking for the where to drop my warm clothes bag for after the race and when I am queuing I try to locate my fuel belts. I had packed a single spibelt for my iphone (for my music and podcasts) and a double spibelt for my fuel. I panic, ripping open my warm clothes bag and the realisation hits that I’ve left them in the car. I look around to see if there was somewhere I could buy fuel – Gus, lollies, anything and look at my watch and it’s 6.25am. I call Mr J in an absolute panic and he calmly says, “It’s ok, you’ve got plenty of time, I’ll come back and drop it off. Meet me where I dropped you”. So I trudge back to Jolimont, freaking out a tad.

I did a few stretches while I was waiting for Mr J and my fuel belts to arrive and managed to calm down a little. He had given the kids the phone on speaker and was giving me a commentary on exactly where he was on Hoddle St. I will be forever grateful for Mr J’s calmness and suspension of judgement.

So I get my fuel belts and head back to the G, found a toilet that thankfully didn’t have massive queues and then located the spot to drop off warm clothes in the deepest recesses of the MCG.

I was heading to the starting line at 6.55 and passed a group of familiar faces from the town I am from and that gave me a massive boost when we wished each other well.

I got to the very back of the people waiting at the starting line and the pacers were no-where to be seen. I had no idea how far back I was, but I couldn’t see the starting line. I decided to forget the plan and stop and accept that this is where I was and I asked a man if he’d take a photo of me with my phone and I also took one of him. As soon as I stopped stressing the enormity of my morning hit me and tears started streaming down my cheeks.

The race started and I waited for the people in front of me to start moving. I threw my jumper off to the side where the Salvos collect them and started to do a calf stretch when people started to walk towards the starting line. Just as I started to run I saw a few of the amazingly gorgeous and supportive Operation Move crew, who had gathered to see me off before their half marathon which gave me a massive lift.

When I crossed the starting line, already over 4 and a half minutes had passed. As I have mentioned previously, this was my first run/ race in the city with eleven-billionty other people. Well 8000ish. I had previously done the Geelong Cross Country half marathon – 1500 people and the Crater to Coast half – 250 people, so running in a crowd like this was very new.

I was very conscious of not going out too fast but in the end the crowd slowed me down anyway. Once we got onto St Kilda Road I attempted to get around some people so I could run at the 6:30K/ hour pace that I’d set myself but it was proving difficult and unenjoyable so I decided to stop trying to get around people and relax and run.

I don’t really remember heaps about the run. Rather than trying to tell the story, it might be better for me to tell you what I do remember.

I remember running down Fitzroy Street in St Kilda and turning into Beaconsfield Parade at about 13km and seeing the women’s leader at the time heading towards Luna Park. She would have done 21km. I remember giving her a whoop and a cheer.

I remember the support along the way. Which really, really helped. People particularly along Beaconsfield Parade. People who stayed out long enough for us tail enders to come through, who had buckets of lollies and oranges and icy poles. I feel teary now thinking about it. People telling us “good job”, “well done”, to keep it up, how great we looked, to keep going, and how far we had come and how far we had to go.

I remember needing to go to the loo on more than one occasion. Three to be exact. Firstly needing to go at around the 8km mark and running past a few toilets that had queues. Deciding at 12km that I just had to stop at the next one and finding myself in a queue 6 women deep (of course there was no queue at the next one). Secondly, a uneventful stop somewhere on Beaconsfield Pde, no queues this time. And thirdly, holding on from about 32km, thinking I could wait until the finish, and then deciding that when I finished the race, I didn’t want the first thing I did to be either wetting myself or desperately searching for a loo. So at the 38.6km mark I trudged off the course to go to the loo. Again. In retrospect I think I over hydrated.

I remember my friend Sue yelling out to me as we crossed paths near Elwood.

I remember listening to a podcast at around the 25km mark and a text coming through from Mr J and watching two video clips from each of my gorgeous kids telling me lovely things.

I remember that when the second video clip finished my phone started playing the Best of Bon Jovi instead of the podcast I was listening to and the song that came on was It’s My Life. Jon and co got me through the next fifty minutes or so with a smile on my face and I seriously considered singing Living on a Prayer out loud at the top of my voice.
beaconsfield pde

I remember the rain starting as I ran back up Fitzroy St.

I remember running under St Kilda Rd and seeing workmen packing up the bollards and me thinking, I’ve got to stay in front of these guys, as the runners who ran over 5 hours were getting moved on to the footpaths.

I remember striding over water gushing down streets and into drains.

I remember listening to a Sundays with James McLoghlin podcast and being entertained by Jenny and her love of possums.

I remember how fatigued I felt during the last ten kilometres.

I remember how in the last 10 kms there were more people walking than running and a lot of people on the sides stretching out cramping muscles.

I remember the support and drinks coming from the volunteers at drink stations.

I remember walking up a hill in the Botanical Gardens.

I remember sending Mr J a text with 4 kms to go and saying some thing like, 4 to go. World. Of. Pain.

I remember the joy of finishing the jaunt around the Tan and getting back on St Kilda Road heading back towards the city.

I remember the thrill of turning from St Kilda Rd into Flinders Street, people yelling, well done, you’re nearly there, only a kilometre and a half to go. Flinders st

I remember a second wind coming with the knowing that I was nearly there, the MCG in full view.

I remember turning into the MCG and wanting to locate my family and friends.

I remember seeing and hearing my Mum and Aunty Denise on the fence.

I remember the pain and relief of crossing the finish line. Because when you’ve been running for that long, it really hurts to stop.

I remember seeing Meisha and Hilary on the fence and giving them a hug immediately after.

I remember seeing the Operation Move crew giving me a big wave.

I remember having my photo taken with my medal.

money shot

I remember picking up my warm clothes bag and sitting in the changing rooms with other exhausted women smiling at each other and congratulating each other.

From here, it was trying to locate Mr J and the kids and gathering with them and Mum and Aunty Denise and friends, which was easier said than done when you can hardly walk and you are in the bowels of the MCG.

I remember eating delicious cake (thanks Emily!).

And I remember hobbling back to Jolimont Station and catching the train north to our suburb and being gutted that the car was on the other side of the train tracks.

It took me until Wednesday afternoon to be able to walk normally.

I am feeling pretty good now. I am not feeling any ill effects apart from a couple of bruised toes which have almost recovered. I haven’t attempted to run and I won’t for another week. I have been walking, as in normal life stuff, around IKEA and Collingwood Childrens Farm, and I went for a very low key swim on Friday (I can’t actually swim so I walked up and down and practiced doing some freestyle).

I have had a few reflections on the day and the whole marathon thing, this post is so long already…

Oh well, if you are still with me…

There’s a few things I’d change if I had my day over again – the taxi would show up, I wouldn’t forget my fuel belt, I’d line up next to the 4:30 pacer before the race starts, there’d be no queues at the loo, I wouldn’t hydrate quite so much and I might fuel a bit more and I’d leave my own drinks at the personal aid stations so I knew exactly what I was getting and the calorie load.

I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to do this. I recognise that running a marathon is a privilege. I am grateful to my body for holding up and making it easy for me. I am grateful for the support of Mr J. It costs money, time and energy to train for a marathon, so I am grateful that at this time we were able to manage it as a family. I am grateful to all the people who looked after the kids when I trained. I am grateful to my Mum for coming to Queenscliff with me when I did the Bellarine Rail Trail run, to everyone that ran or rode with me (Sonia xx).

A lot of people say that running a marathon is mostly mental. I can tell you that the physical has a lot to do with it too. In the last few kilometres, if your body is severely cramping or injured, no amount of mental strength is going to carry you for several kilometres. The mental part comes at the start of the process with self belief and actually registering. It then comes with the commitment and discipline to your training. On the day it’s about getting the job done that you’ve trained for, and you hope like hell that your body complies.

So, this marks the end of my first marathon journey.

Thanks so much for your support and following me on this ride.

What next I wonder… I’ve got a few ideas and I’ve already registered for a Come and Try triathlon.

There will definitely be more time and energy to focus on Brightside Coaching and our renovations.

What’s your next adventure?

Have an awesome week.



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