“Finally, the monkey is off my back” by Elyse

Posted by on Oct 19, 2016 in Running | 0 comments

Melbourne half marathon 2016 – the report (from my perspective).

It has been seven whole years since my last ‘official’ half marathon runs. I have always thought about those races with a little happiness and also a little disappointment. I was in a really good place back then, but injuries before and during the race meant I was never able to achieve my ultimate goal, the sub-two hour result.

I travelled this year to Melbourne with three amazing ladies, my #wolfpack. We decided to run the half as a cover for the actual reason for the trip; Melbourne shopping. It was the perfect weekend away from husbands and kids, with just a short run thrown in for good value.

I decided to run the Melbourne half after I skipped the Sydney and Canberra race days this year. I just wanted to be on a good fast track, I wanted to be in a city I knew and I wanted to be around good old Melbourne people (plus, again, the city has the best shopping).

The training started months ago, I knew I was ready. I had done many long runs and I had my training day strategy worked out. But, I was sore and I was nervous about my hips, my back, my shoulder and pretty much all of the areas that hurt during the long runs. I never really felt super comfortable in the training runs at a pace I wanted to do. I always seemed to have pain or get tired before the 21km finish.

We got up early on race day, had the pre-requisite banana and a sneaky voltarin. It was something I needed to get through the first part of the race. I wrote the times on my arm for 5km, 10km, 15km and 20km. I wanted to stick with 1:58 timing and I was going to do my darndest to stick with it. We got a cab to the start line, walked through the crowds and found our spot, right near the start. After a long wait at the toilets nearby, I was ready. We found the pacer that said 1:50 and stuck close to her to wait for the gun to go off. Then it did. I didn’t think I was ready, but oh well; here we go with another 10,000 people. And off went that 1:50 pacer!

The first 12km of the run went well. I had my earphones in, with my teenager boppy Beiber and JT tracks and I found my stride. The weather was overcast and helped me just get into my groove. St Kilda Road was a favourite of mine. I grew up on these streets and the tree lined main road did not disappoint. I saw the 5km flag and thought, okay I can do this. Then we turned a sharp right and into the Albert Park area…BOOM where the heck did that head wind come from? Push through. Just push through.

From 6km to 12km I felt great. Apart from the annoying wind that just wouldn’t quit, I was in a good pack of people, we all seemed to be going the same pace. Then at 12km there was a sneaky sharp U-turn, right in the pits of the grand prix Albert Park course. Ugh, talk about a mental battle. Retracing steps is something I have never been great at. I felt tired, I literally thought I could have a nap.

I was hurting and I felt a little defeated. So, I checked my times, I knew I had some room in my timings, I had been ahead of the time so I slowed a bit.

From 12km to 18km I won’t lie, I felt sore, I felt tired and mentally it was a battle. People on the course were dropping all over the place. Walkers, people huffing so loudly it was a distraction and even someone having a cheeky spew. I just looked down and kept my feet moving. I figured if I just kept moving it would work out. I was actually ahead of my time and moving at a pace that would get me there under two hours. This is what kept me going, the achievement of this goal.

Once I hit that 18km mark, there was a sharp turn off St Kilda Road and down hill! I was stoked. I used every single downhill to gain momentum. I was back feeling good. I had made sure I took advantage of each water stop and even Gatorade, which for me, was incredibly unusual as I typically run without water. It did give me that last little oomph to get me to the end.

Once I saw the MCG I knew we were close. The smarty pants route designers did throw in a sneaky bridge that was damn steep in the final 2km, and then took us towards the MCG and away from it again. I must admit that mentally threw me off. Then we did one last turn and I recognised the street that surrounds the MCG. On the way up that stretch of road I asked a few people how much further and they said it was less than a kilometre. I went for it. Threw my body into it and sprinted (which made for the ugliest race day photos!). I ran into the MCG, realised we had to do a lap (ouch) and just used everything I had left in the tank. Running through that finish line was sweet. I felt like I was going to throw up, I was exhausted, my back was sore, but I was so happy I couldn’t stop smiling. I saw the clock and it said 1:59:13. I was sure I had done a little faster and it turned out, I was right; 1:58:39 was my official time and I had finally done it! The monkey was off my back.

I didn’t wait two seconds before I got my phone out and FaceTimed my hubby and twinnies. It was awesome. I was still on the MCG ground, what a freaking awesome place to finish.

On the day, I found my confidence. I found my pace and everything seemed to align for me. I had music, I had a flat course, my legs behaved and it just worked. It was luck. Training and luck. Some days work well and some just don’t. A lesson in that for me; absolutely. I think we all put a lot of pressure on ourselves to perform and I know that there was a huge chance that I would feel the same on the day as I did in the training, not amazing. But something just worked for me on Sunday and I managed to have a great run. I don’t take that for granted at all. I enjoyed (most) of the run, but it was definitely not easy. I had a 6km section that seemed to go on forever and it sucked. I am happy it is done and I am stoked that I managed to do it in a time I wanted. And as for finishing at the MCG, a childhood dream finally came true, running on to the grounds of the home of AFL.

Now, time for me to run with MBRC, with my wolfpack and enjoy running in Manly again.

Elyse – sub 2 hour half marathoner 🙂


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