Jenny is 36, mum to 2 young girls and an obsessive runner. She loves to spread the running love with anyone who cares to listen and would love to help anyone on their running journey.
The 2014 Wangaratta Marathon is done and dusted. It’s funny how you register to compete in an event so many months in advance, train for the event, compete in the event and then the next day, it is all over. So much time and planning for a few short hours of effort!
A little bit of my background; in January 2011 I was overweight, unmotivated, and unhappy with myself and basically an eating machine couch potato. Something had to change. I started with my diet. Cut out soft drink totally, changed my eating habits and just tried for better. I also started this thing called exercise. It started with a small amount of cardio each day and progressed. I had never been a runner before but my husband and I set two cones up in our suburban backyard and ran between them. At the start, I could not run a length of the cone without puffing. But I stuck to it. As I got healthier and fitter, I went over to the local little Aths track and started running laps there; slowly. Progress brought on road running then the words fun run came….. Running turned into an obsession. I stand today having lost about 20kgs. Don’t get me wrong, I still struggle daily with my nutrition. I LOVE my food and still have a lot of work in tweaking that part of my life, but the running community is awesome and gives so much.
The Wangaratta Marathon was to be marathon number 5. Training for the marathon distance was no longer such a foreign concept to me and I knew what to expect from the race and the build-up. It is still such a daunting task. Every race is different and can have so many varying factors in even making it to race day. Personally I still think of my last marathon. The 2013 Melbourne Marathon was such a tough and gruelling race that any further marathons would weigh heavily on my mind. Three weeks prior to the 2013 Melbourne Marathon I got sick, a cold that never ran its course fully. In fact it got worse before it was to get better. My training almost ceased due to the illness and I was so close to not running in the Melb mara, but ran we did and while not my best, it was my grittiest. It also took a long time to recover from. Should I have run it? Well that’s open to debate!
Moving forward to the Wangaratta Marathon, training was a tad different to previous efforts. I have recently discovered the world of Triathlon, so marathon training included bike and swim as well as the normal cross training I do. I am a firm believer in cross training. I am a mother to two young girls and a wife to a husband who also competes in marathons and beyond. Finding the time to complete the necessary training just has to involve cross training in my world. I run every second day alternating with my husband. I cross train anywhere in between. Be it weights sessions, cardio, core, yoga…… it is all designed to make me a better (if not obsessive) athlete. My running training is also a bit more alternate to the “normal” marathon plans. My long runs never exceed 25km. But add the cross training into the equation and I try to have faith that I have done enough.
Race week began and my husband (who was also running Wangaratta) and I decided to alter our race week strategy nutritionally. We lowered our carb intake at the start of the week and aimed for steamed green veg and lean meats for dinner. Cut out breads, spuds, pasta, rice. I also felt the first throes of a cold coming on. The thoughts went back to Melbourne and the issues I faced. Plenty of water, vitamin C and basically bugger all exercise ensued. Come Friday, I was hanging for my love of the bread! The day before race day we bundled the kids in the car and took them to stay with relatives in Shepparton. A novelty for us as we usually take our runs in turns; one runs and the other comes along with the kids to cheer. After depositing the kids, we high tailed it up the highway to Wangaratta, checked into the motel and then made it to the promised land of the pre-race dinner: an buffet organised for carb loading. Now that’s what I am talking about! I certainly did get my money’s worth. Pasta, meats, vegetables, salads….. Dessert! Hell yes. Remember I do love my food! With a satisfied belly and back safely to the hotel it was time to try and rest for the next morning. Again there was plenty of water during the night (and trips to the toilet).
Race morning was a ridiculous start. 4:45am wake up, small bowl of cornflakes, shower, and race gear and off to the race. Of course we were there early. It was still pitch black but all good. I also located the most important area of the pre-race area known to a woman; the toilets! Interestingly, I felt no nerves. I placed no expectations on myself. I had a loose goal time I wished to achieve but just really wanted to finish the race and know I had done my best.
Just before gun time, I said goodbye to the other half while he moved closer to the front of the start (a quicker runner than me) and waited. The race started at 6:30am, in the middle of Summer, a great idea, trying to combat the heat and have the race done and dusted before the sun really hit its straps. The first few kilometres were spent just trying to get into a rhythm and in as comfortable a position as I could. The great thing about the Wang course was that there were a few turnarounds where I could see the other runners, check out how they looked, give the husband encouragement and a high 5. Early on, during one such double up, I could count how many other ladies were in front of me. 3! I was the 4th woman! That was surprising to me as I had no expectations. At the 5km point, I took a peek at my Garmin and saw I had perhaps taken the start a tad too fast. This was possibly going to hurt the legs later. Around the 10km mark I was running with a bloke who I discovered had a similar race time goal. He too mentioned he had gone a tad too fast and needed to pull it back some. We ran together for a few more kilometres before he took off in front. I was also passed by another lady at this time relegating me to 5th possie. I will happy at this idea of being able to be top 5. That would be an awesome personal feat.
The course was a two lap out, back and around affair. A few kilometres from the halfway point, I was amidst the 10km runners doing their thing. So many runners out there trying their best, it was wonderful to see them giving it a crack. A couple of years previously I had never imagined I could run a half marathon let alone the full 42.195 km. The second lap was the beginning of the grind. Time wise I was still substantially ahead of my goals. Parts of my body started to fatigue, feet cramped a touch. Then I looked in the distance and saw one of the ladies who had been quite a bit in front of me. She was currently in 4th position. I had a conversation to myself and wondered if I could catch her. This marathon business is a very mental game and you do have conversations with yourself quite often! At this time I also caught up to the bloke I was earlier running with. A quick conversation of how we were feeling and I managed to run on ahead of him. Another amazing thing I then discovered; not only was the lady I was aiming to catch in view but another lady who was ahead of her as well. My sights were now on 3rd and 4th place. The lady in 3rd had slowed a great deal, her race was done. Had she gone too hard in the first half? We caught and passed her with ease.
I was now in 4th! Wow. Imagine if I had dared to dream before the race that I would be the 4th girl to finish the marathon. My next feat was landing on the heels of the lass in 3rd. I stayed there for a while, my body was quite fatigued at this point. The feet were sore and cramping too. We also managed a conversation. She asked me my goals. I replied and asked hers. Her goal was to simply finish! I told her she was currently the 3rd female by my reckoning and her reply was that I would soon pass her. I didn’t share her confidence. There was no kick in me, it was taking enough to keep a consistent pace and hang on to my faculties. She confirmed this by getting a little lead on me.
I was still on a PB pace so was buoyed with that. A drinks station later and my adversary slowed right down where I kept going. I won’t lie. I do enjoy competition and was ecstatic that I could now be 3rd! She must have dropped right off because I didn’t see her again. 36km or so was gone by now and I was on the final count down. Yes it hurt. That I will not lie about. The concentration to keep one foot in front of the other was the focus. Approaching 38-39km I ran into the 2km kid’s dash. Enthusiastic little ones zooming around and all I wanted to do was get through it and finish the race!
In hindsight, the distraction of them was probably well timed. 41-42km was the longest of the day in my mind. But finish I did! My time was 3.31.55. A massive PB of around 7 minutes! The sweetener was 3rd woman overall. The icing on the cake was 1st woman in my age group. Had you told me before the race this would be the result, I would have called for the white jacket. Granted it was a small field, but I tried my best and that’s all I hope for myself. My husband also did a great PB, it was such a successful day all round. The course was wonderful, Justin and Sharon Scholz and their team were magnificent in organising such an event. The volunteers were fantastic. The other runners and their encouragement just made me glad I could be part of their community.
I sit here now gazing at the awesome trophy on my mantl, having banked a 3rd prize cheque, trying to decide which pair of shoes to get with the prize voucher and sore in so many spots. Truth be told, I love running marathons and just registered for Melbourne Marathon 2014.
Anyone who dares to dream it CAN run a marathon. They really can.