Hi all, I'm very happy to report that on Sunday I became a marathoner!! With Dom by my side we tackled the Gold Coast Marathon with 5000 other silly people. My time was just a little outside of the world record - 5hrs 45mins - but time is irrelevant as it was all about finishing and achieving.
It was an amazing and wonderful experience, and as you would expect I am over the moon with my achievement. The experience was not without its challenges. My cold came back on Friday so getting to the start line was a major achievement. The buzz at the start was electrifying with lots of different characters and runners of all abilities. In amongst all of the starters I caught up with up with buddy Jen, who was also running her first marathon, and her Intraining buddies.
The first 6kms were perfect and I felt great, then the unthinkable happened. I have bad ankles and for the past six months I have done everything possible to look after them - I cannot count the amount of times that I have twisted my left ankle. I've even twisted it just walking the dog, so I considered it a major achievement getting through six months of training without going over on it. We decided to grab our first drink at the 6km water station and as I grabbed a cup I didn't notice a hole in the road. I twisted my left ankle!! I'm sure those around me learnt some new and colourful words. Why would the organisers put a drink stop next to a hole in the road? In pain I continued on and rounded the turnaround at Burleigh Heads (15.6kms) - goal number one achieved.
Dom was also having her own problems - her toenails were lifting and she had a headache that as we continued turned into a migraine. We got back to the half way point at Broadbeach and them to the 28km mark at Main Beach. At this point we realised that we were running with the party people - cancer survivors, a Japanese bloke running the whole way with a tuba (he would stop at various spots and play a tune), a Malaysian bloke who was running his 130th marathon, and a whole bunch of other people doing their first marathon. We shared stories, had lots of laughs and offered each other encouragement.
At the 30km mark I thought the race was over. I felt really, really sick. I don't know if it was the pain from the ankle or something else, but for some brief moments I thought it was all over. After a quick stop and some fresh air we were off again - our new running friends were urging me on as they went past us. The 32km mark was special as this is where the family were waiting. The ankle and legs were hurting. The kids had made us a sports drink and put special labels on the bottles. We were drinking "tasty juice". Whatever the special mix was it helped. With 10kms to go we picked up the pace and caught the people that passed us when I had to stop at 30kms.
I really enjoyed the final 10kms. It was a great atmosphere, lots more laughs and plenty of encouragement. I am pleased to say I ran through the twists and turns of the finishing area and ran across the finish line. Dad and the kids were in the grandstand waiting for us and this was special as they got to experience the finish with us. While it was painful, it was also a wonderful experience, and a lot of fun. It was great to share stories and hugs with our fellow runners afterwards. Given the hurdles we had to overcome during the marathon, getting to the finish line was a very special achievement.
We had a special moment after the marathon when we caught up with Grandad Johnny from the Intraining squad. We ran with John up until about the 25km mark. He lost contact with us and it wasn't until the 39km mark until we saw John again - he still had about 7kms to go but he was still moving and smiling. Seeing John after the race meant that he had finished his first marathon - well John, bloody great effort. This pretty much sums up why I enjoyed my first marathon. Towards the tail end of the field we all had similar stories, all had the same motivation and we were all looking out for each other.
The left ankle and knee are shot today. I feel tired, but surprisingly the rest of the body has held up well. We are off to Fiji on Wednesday morning so I know that will go a long way towards easing the pain. Would I do another marathon? Let me think about this for a few weeks before I answer this. I will catch you all in a few weeks with more reflection on my marathon journey.
I am a marathoner! To prove this point I haven't taken the finisher's t-shirt or medal off since the race finished.
Happy reading and resting.