Sydney Marathon 2014 – Race Recap
My Mum arrived on Thursday and Maggie was just so excited to see her and so were we. We went out for diner that night to watch an ever famous Darwin sunset which did not let us down and then we returned home to do last minute packing and panicking.
When we closed the door to leave for the airport the next day we both had tears in our eyes and could not speak. The only other time we had both left Maggie before was for just one night over a year ago.
I had a feeling she would be just fine with her Nanny, I wasn’t too sure about us though.
I had a 3 week taper which had me running 20kms 2 weeks prior to the Sydney marathon. I suffered through a 2 week chest infection that week and the following week . Two weeks before the marathon I only ran 13kms for the week. I also had just run an 8km and a 5km the week of the marathon. I had a painful left calf muscle and metatarsalgia pain in my left foot and when I had my sports massage the therapist informed I had shin splits and ITB down both legs. Awesome.
To put it simply I felt every ache and pain throughout that taper period.
The Day Before
All the marathon guides tell you to rest up the day before and to take it easy. We had a decision to make here, we either sat around our beautiful hotel room and let our anxiety build up or we go out and enjoy a day out on the town. We chose the latter. And we indulged in a different sort of marathon … a shopping marathon.
We walked far too much, I pulled a muscle in my neck and shoulder from carrying shopping bags but we did keep our mind off the big day and we had some much needed fun.
After a long hot bath on Saturday night we started to set out our race gear and then the nervousness kicked in a little. We watched TV until 9.30pm, we read a little and tried to sleep. HB had no problem drifting off, but I last checked the time at 12.40am and I think that’s when I finally nodded off myself.
Alarm went off at 4.50am.
Finally, marathon day was here and it was freezing! We had to turn the heating up in the hotel room and we silently sipped our coffee and ate breakfast. I ate half of what I planned to eat which was exactly the same breakfast as I had eaten on my training marathon run 3 weeks ago.
I wasn’t going to force myself to eat, I wasn’t nervous either. I just was not hungry.
It’s also times like these when hotel rooms really need two bathrooms just to accommodate a marathon running couple.
We headed out at 6.20am to catch the train from Wynyard Station to Milsons Point. It was so chilly and I remembered I left the garbage bags behind in the hotel room in case it rained.
What is this wet stuff you speak of?
And of course it started to drizzle as soon as we were under the glorious Sydney Harbour Bridge trying to take the obligatory pre race selfies. I lined up at the porta loos to pee even though I didn’t feel I needed to. We had a final hug under the bridge and then we both made our way to our respective gates, I was in Wave C and yes, speedster HB was in Wave A.
The rain was still coming down so I huddled underneath a bus station and started to chat to a lovely lady from New Zealand. This was her 8th marathon and she was hoping to keep up with the 5hr pacer. I noticed the pacers with their flags but didn’t pay too much attention, my goal was just to finish and make the cut-off times without my left calf muscle attempting a suicide mission.
Wave A went off with a bang and I took off my throw away jacket quite unwillingly and left at the bus stop. Before we knew it Wave C was off and running and we thought it was a good idea to leave the shelter of the bus stop now, I wished the NZ runner good luck and she took off like a rocket.
0-5kms – We headed out in the drizzling rain and started our way towards the Harbour Bridge. Wave C included so many happy Japanese tourists who stopped for photos at any given opportunity especially when we were on the bridge. I wish I headed out strong with the NZ lady because I think this first km was my slowest km, it was a constant battle of stopping and starting in front of the tourists wanting their photos taken.
I think they learnt a new word … Fuck.
Besides this, I was feeling fabulous once we hit the bridge, I mentally made myself look around and take in the sights, it was glorious. I was just starting to warm up as we left the bridge.
5-10kms – I left the city and headed towards Mrs Macquires Point, the rain had stopped and I was thoroughly enjoying this cool weather with no humidity. I didn’t eat much breakfast so at the 7km point I forced myself to take in a bit of a gel and I finished it by 10kms. I looked at my Garmin and my time was 1:07 which was right on target.
The course so far was perfect with gentle undulating hills and they hadn’t taken their toll yet. I loved that every hill I ran up, that I got to enjoy running back down.
15kms – As we headed up Oxford Street and then back down into Centennial park the Wave A marathon runners were coming back out. I was so busy looking out for HB that 3kms just flew by, but I didn’t get to see him.
21.1kms – I approached the half marathon mark in Centennial Park, I was on fire and smiled thinking that it would be a piece of cake to do this all over again. My Garmin had me at 2:23 which was perfect. But at this point I started to wonder if I went out a little too slow and easy in the first half.
I was right, I think.
24-28kms – I didn’t hit the wall but once I left the park I was out in the sunshine and heading back to the city. I started to fade slightly and when I looked around I noticed many people were walking and I took this opportunity to pass a few people. I had my second and last gel here.
32kms – I was back in the city and in the shade of the buildings. Hooray! I switched off my podcast and turned on my music and then I was on a high running down Phillip street.
I had stayed ahead of the 5.30hr pacers the entire time, but I could not for the life of me even see the 5hr pacers in front for the entire marathon. By keeping on eye on my Garmin I knew if I could keep up my current pace I could achieve a sub 5hr marathon.
Who knows where those pacers were?!
I remember reading the course description so I knew around the 32km point you had to head away from the finish line at Circular Quay towards the Hickson street where some killer hills awaited. Mentally it was heartbreaking watching the wave A marathoners pass me by again and on their final 3km run towards the finish line when I still had at least an hour to go.
36-38kms – I made my way up the flyover towards Pyrmont street and back out again towards the finish line. I knew the last 4kms were flat and downhill and at this point that’s what kept me going.
My e-coach had told me I would pass many people at this point if I stuck to my race plan. Now I didn’t stick to his original plan for me but there were many runners on the side of the road in absolute agony trying to stretch out legs or just sitting down red faced and dehydrated. My coach told me that it is empowering to pass people at this point and to finish strong.
I have to say I didn’t find it empowering and that I just felt so bad for them.
I overtook many runners that I had been running behind for the last hour as I slowly nudged closer to that finishing line. I kept thinking about getting that finisher’s medal and giving HB a huge hug at the end.
In my training marathon run I hit the wall at the 37km mark and I was completely prepared with positive mantras, imagery and pep talks this time around, but I didn’t need them.
40kms – The Sydney Opera House was in sight and then we had to leave it again and go back out to the road and around Circular Quay towards the Sydney Opera House.
42.2kms Finally, I could see the finishers chute and I have never been so happy to cross the line. A medal was placed around my neck and we were told to head underneath the Sydney Opera House stairs.
As soon as I found HB he wrapped me up in his arms and we both started crying. Onlookers were pointing and smiling at us so this introvert had to put a stop to the PDA and we were quickly snapped by a race photog for a photo.
My net finishing time was 4:52:25 and although I didn’t have a time goal I was secretly pleased that there was a 4 in front of that number.
HB had finished in 3:32 I am just so damn proud of that man. He is amazing.
We walked towards the Royal Botanical Gardens, but we could not find the marathoners finishers tent and by the looks of things they had already started to pack up. So we walked back up to our hotel stopping to buy some coconut water on the way.
This marathon was so different to my training marathon 3 weeks prior. Mainly the weather was much kinder in Sydney and although I tackled the hills quite well, I could tell that they had taken their toll on my legs because they felt like absolute jelly. I also broke a runners rule and tried something new on race day – saltstick capsules. I took one every hour and they kept my electrolytes up and for the first time ever I didn’t get a post long run headache.
I only had two gels, 3 clif shot blok squares and refilled my handheld bottle 3 times. It’s hard to compare this to my long runs in Darwin due to the extreme differences in weather conditions so I’m not sure if I fuelled or hydrated enough on the day, but it got me through.
We made it back to our hotel and soaked in a long hot bath filled with dreamy Lush goodies. We relaxed for the rest of the afternoon and then we went out in the early evening to celebrate HB’s 41st birthday!
Another long hot bath and then it was time for some sleep.
We were up with the birds to get an early flight back home to Darwin but we didn’t mind one bit because we missed our little ray of sunshine with our whole hearts. Mum and Maggie were waiting for us at the airport and then there were more tears and celebrations. Mum had cooked us the most amazing dinner!
Sydney Marathon Summary
- The volunteers were absolute angels, so amazing, supportive and generous with their time.
- Members of the public who took time out to cheer us on was uplifting to the soul.
- A huge Police presence was noted and they also went out of their way to cheer us on.
- Water stations were well stocked and not crowded.
- Plenty of toilets around even though I didn’t have to use one.
- As a lover of runner’s bling I have to say the marathon medal was pretty disappointing, small and a tad boring.
- By the time I finished they had run out of size smalls in the marathoners finishers shirts and the medium is way too big for me. Those damn skinny speedy bitches.
- GU gels and jelly beans etc were meant to be supplied at stations after the halfway point, but all I could see were empty boxes.
- We paid the $2 fee to get our race results sent by SMS at the end of the marathon. HB received his text straight away. I never got mine and the website was down for 18 hours. When I raised the issue with Blackmores they insisted that I received my text.
Most Importantly … Thank You
- A huge heartfelt thank you to my Mum who made this dream of ours come true.
- To my friends who have put up with me being so self absorbed especially these past 12 weeks.
- To HB, for also putting up with my tantrums, anxiety and at times childish post long run attitudes.
If you’ve made it this far and you have an itch to run a marathon, you can do it! Sheer guts, determination and hard work will get you through to that finish line.
If I can do it, anyone can.