Last weekend, I ran the Sydney Marathon for the third year in a row.
My last few marathons have been hard efforts by myself, so this time, I volunteered to pace Kellie, and was pleased that I would have company for the race. Her goal was to run around 3:40, or maybe even 3:35 if she was feeling good. (Her PB is 3:38). Unfortunately, Kel had been sick with a head cold on the days leading up to the race,so it was going to be an experiment.
We didn’t even make a time or place to meet, relying on faith that we would find each other. When I arrived at the start line, I realised that might not have been a great idea…
I took my jacket off, and checked my bag into bag check. It was cooler than I expected. It was also starting to rain. I wandered over to where the half marathoners had discarded their race day throwaway jumpers and put one on. What a beauty! I can!t believe someone would throw this away!
I found shelter from the rain under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. By this time I had found Kellie, and Shelby, another Night Strider who was doing her first marathon.
Soon enough, it was time to walk over and get into our starting corral. Kellie and I were in the A corral. Once here, we found a few other Newcastle runners… Teela, Grace, and her Mum Leanne. All had plans of running around 3:40, so se decided to start together, and see what happened.
As the start grew nearer, the crowd began creeping towards the start line. It was time to toss my cardigan. I threw it towards the side of the road, but it accidentally landed on some poor guy’s head. I looked away, pretending it wasn’t me.
I didn’t even hear a gun go off. Runners shuffled forward. It actually got a bit pushy. Finally, we were at the line and it was time to start running. I was concentrating on where Kel was, and quickly lost track of the others. Our first 5km were sub-5 minute k’s, as we were excited and got carried along with the crowd.
Around the 6km mark, our pace settled down a little. Here, half an hour into the race, we saw the leaders, running through the 10km mark. For the next 5km, we ran close to our goal pace. We were nailing it! It was good to pass other runners that we knew on course too. We were chatting and waving. We found one guy who had run the Glasshouse 100 miler the previous weekend, and was backing up for Blackmores. Crazy.
15 kilometres in, Kellie was feeling good. We were on our way to ‘the Labyrinth” that is Centennial park. Here, it is difficult to tell where you are, and if the runners running back past you in the other direction are ahead of you or behind you.
I was impressed that Kel ran through all the drink stations without slowing down, aided by a plastic drinking straw. I encouraged her to drink at every station, even just a sip, whether she wanted to or not, because she had been sick recently.
Leanne ran past us, saying that Grace was feeling sick so she was running on ahead.
We went through halfway in 1 hour 44 minutes. If we could repeat that, Kel would be smashing her PB today. We saw Grace standing on the side of the road taking photos. She had pulled out of the race.
Near the 27km mark, we turned a hat and started to head back towards the city. I could see Teela up ahead. I tried to encourage Kellie that we could catch her in the next couple of kilometres. Our pace had dropped by about 10 seconds per kilometre, despite a nice long downhill run down Anzac Parade.
We passed the Runlab cheer squad, shouting encouragement from the sidelines around the 30 kilometre mark. Soon afterwards, we caught up with Teela. I called out encouragement to her, hoping she would come along with us.
We entered Hyde park, bouncing along the temporary footbridge that had been set up over the road. I pondered what it would be like to run an entire marathon on thus bouncy surface. I think I could do a PB!
As we ran past the fountain, I pulled out my phone and started to take a few selfies as we ran along. I’m not sure if Kellie was too impressed.
At the 33km mark, we were running past Circular Quay. Ben was on the sidelines cheering, and asking if we had seen Shelby. We hadn’t, which I think was a good sign that she was on track to go close to 4 hours.
We were running 6 minute kilometres now. There are a few pinchy little short sharp hills in this section of the course. I tried to encourage Kel to charge up them, pumping her arms, but I’m not sure if my encouragement was helping or hindering now. Kel was starting to feel chills, which wasn’t good. Not far to go now.
At 37k’s, I tried to encourage Kel that we had ‘just one park run to go!’ Soon afterwards, Kellie seemed to come good again, and picked up the pace.
We came around under the bridge, and saw a sight for sore eyes: the Opera House – the finish line!
Teela had caught us, coming home strong too. Time for another selfie!
Not far to go now. Grace was on the sidelines, cheering us on again. Kellie was coming home strong, still chasing that time.
The sidelines were a blur of Night Striders cheering for us. The support was amazing. We ran up the finish chute, which felt like it was never going to end. Finally, we crossed the line. 3:40:41!
We spent a bit of time hanging around the finish line, catching up with other runners and hearing about some great results. I was pleased to see Ray (The Eagle), and hear that he had backed up from the Glasshouse 100 miler to run a 3:32 marathon in Sydney. Many of the half marathoners had had exceptional runs too. It was a day for great results!
I wandered back to my hostel to shower, and then spent a lovely afternoon wandering the city with Kel, Kellie and Ala.
We browsed jewellery stores, had delicious hot chocolates at Max Brenner, and participated in an art exhibition/project in the city.
Eventually, we ended up at a pub for dinner. I thought I was hungry but I only managed to eat half my burger. I was tired and it had been a long day.
Soon enough, I said goodbye to the girls, and retired to my hotel, ready to do it all again in 2 weeks time!
Congratulations to Kellie on a great run, it was a joy pacing you!