I can't believe that on Saturday 30 June 2018 I ran 42km (plus some) in my first ever marathon!
I first started running on the road 3 years ago. With several half marathons under my belt, I wasn't interested nor motivated to run further. Actually, I didn't even really enjoy running and often had to force myself out the door. It was all in the pursuit to stay healthy. That all changed when I was introduced to trail running.
At the end of last year Nadine was training for Two Bays Trail Run. I offered to keep her company spending most weekends up in the hills. It was during that short time I started falling in love again with running. The undulating path, the surrounding nature, the feeling of being the only person on the planet, and the wind in my face. I realised that over the past 2 years it was the trail that was missing from my running.
I volunteered at Two Bays. Seeing all those runners go past me made me envious. I remember thinking that there is no way I was going to miss out next year. That motivational fire came alight. I had to start training to get a qualifier for 2019! That was going to be my next goal ... push myself to 28km.
To achieve this I needed to join a trail group to keep me motivated. I knew that PTR existed so started to stalk PTR adventures on Facebook. I joined as a member, but it took me months to get to my first run. I didn't know anyone in the group. Would they accept me? One Saturday morning at Park run in Rosebud, Nadine introduced me to Andrew and Seema. They seemed so nice and encouraging. This was the little bit of confidence I needed, so the following week I responded that I'll come to a run from 16 Beach to Sorrento return. I mean I couldn't say no, they were running straight past my home. That run started my journey with PTR.
In such a short period of time, this awesome group of people welcomed me, made me feel like I have always belonged, they made me believe in myself. Each weekend they helped me push my distance PB. It wasn't hard as we were having so much fun! And within 4 months I not only pushed my distance from 21km to 35.5km, but made a decision to enter the Surf Coast Trail Marathon. What a way to remember my 40th birthday!
The Surf Coast Trail Marathon weekend started on Friday. Tanya and I caught the ferry from Sorrento to Queenscliff and spent a fun day slowly meandering our way towards Aireys Inlet. We arrived at our accommodation just before 4pm and started prepping for the next day whilst waiting for the rest of the house crew to arrive.
I decided to turn on my Garmin watch to charge the battery ready for big day. That's when I noticed something was wrong. The time was 8 hours behind and it wasn't picking up GPS. I didn't worry too much as I thought it would come good in a few hours. But it didn't! Even Annabel (Queen of Tech) couldn't get it working after performing multiple re-sets. I couldn't believe it ... my first ever marathon and it wouldn't be recorded!
That night I couldn't sleep. Finally 4.30am arrived, I got up, got dressed, had my coffee and porridge, dropped the kids off at the pool, and were out the door at 6am. As soon as we stepped on the bus I heard the sweet sound of my Garmin buzzing. And just like that ... it connected to GPS. I couldn't believe it ... what a sense of relief! Even the long bus ride to the start line didn't make me nervous. It was going to be an awesome day!
We arrived at Torquay and spent the next hour hanging around the café sheltering from the cold wind and rain. There was much chatter and excitement, eating and drinking coffee, and getting prepped for the start. Then the count down to the race brief began. I followed the crowds down to the beach. I was cold and I couldn't feel my toes. All I wanted to do at that point was to run to keep myself warm.
The race was about to start and the excitement of the crowd was making my heart pump. Then suddenly we were off. I was next to Kristen and Ben along the beach. The music from Kirsten's 'boom box' echoed through the sounds of the surf and the rain. I started to get my rhythm along the beach, and as we looped back towards the path I pulled away. I ran for a short time with Tanya and then saw Jayne asking her to tuck my coat into my pack. As I ran further, the crowds dispersed and I realised I was going to be running most of the race in my own company. I was totally okay with that.
It rained intermittently for the first half of the race. I spent most of the time playing with my rain coat ... on, off, on, off. But my legs and heart rate felt great, running a good steady pace along the flats and fast down the hills. To conserve energy I hiked the up hills and beach, stopping to take photos along the way. Then suddenly I was on the gravel road towards the half way check point.
There were heaps of people around the road at the half way point. Seeing Jayne was such a positive booster. I grabbed some Pringles at the check point and kept moving towards the stairs. I could see the half marathoners just ahead starting their race running along the beach. Then as I weaved through the spectators walking up the stairs, I saw a familiar face. OMG ... it was my friend Michaela and her husband Paul. I was so emotional, I grabbed and hugged her! We took a selfie and then I keep moving down towards the beach.
On the beach I ran with a guy called Karl. We kept each over company talking all thing running which made time pass quickly. Then suddenly the next beach section was done. I pulled away up the muddy, sticky trail, which was turned up by the hundreds of runners that were ahead of me.
Further up the hill I saw another friendly familiar face. Julie ran with me for a short time chatting and distracted me from my legs which now start to feel tired. When we reached the top we said bye and I flew down the rocky path. It was very muddy and I had to be careful how I placed my feet not to slip.
Along the open footbridge I run with an older man. At first I thought he was just going for a Saturday jog in his Akubra hat, woollen jumper, and plastic drink bottle in his hand. He asked me how far we had run ... at that point it was 28km. He was an old school runner ... no fancy watch, pack or gels. This man was an amazing runner, he overtook me and ran into the distance ahead. I can only imagine how many marathons he had run in the past. I wish I asked him his name.
I then ran with Petr and some other people in a small group. Petr mentioned to me that he too is part of PTR but hasn't yet got his running merchanise. Petr told me he has run over 50 marathons in the past and his next running adventure will be in Antarctica. Wow ... I need to hear the rest of his story very soon.
Then we hit that last beach. I remember it feeling like the beach from hell. It was relentless ... it kept going, and going and going! The soft sand, the high tide, the surf splashing onto my feet. At that point my running poles helped me to keep my mind focused to keep moving forward. My legs were starting to hurt. I was so happy to see the end of that beach. I took my shoes off, tip out the sand, and took a deep breath. I was on home stretch ... under 10km to go.
I powered through the single trail pushing myself along with my poles. All I remember is thinking ... holy moly I've nearly finished! Running that last section was amazing, I got a second wind and I cruised up and down the hills. Maybe it was the sugar high of the amazing Coke I drank at the last 5km mark. I normal don't drink the stuff, but at that point in the race it was liquid gold (or black)! I didn't even care that I shared a cup that probably 100 other people drank from before me. Big shout out to the lady and the gorgeous girl at the party car!
I was on a high the last 5km and coming though on the small beach section before the finish line I was like "where is the finish?" I looked up and saw people at he Surf Club but I didn't realise that the top of the steps was the end. I went up the steps and couldn't believe it ... I had just finished my first marathon!
Looking back on the day. It was one of the best things I have done in my life! It was perfect in every way. CROSSING THE RUBICON, on the trail, running my race at my pace, surrounded by nature, and the beautiful people that I can now call my trail family. So what's next? Surf Coast Century (relay leg 2) and then to conquer my original goal of Two Bays Trail 28km. SCTM has opened the doors for me ... the world is my oyster!