The Gold Coast 10km was a great race for me in 2011. I set my PB, and was at peak fitness. This year was completely different – the race was only 2 weeks post holiday, so I had no expectations. The weekend (including the 10km, the half and the full marathon) is always a major event for our squad, so not running it wasn't an option – I get massive FOMO (fear of missing out)! Because the event is so big they do the 10km, the 5.7km and the kids races on the Saturday, then the full and half marathons on the Sunday.
Most of our squad stay at the coast for the whole weekend, but I decided to just drive down on the day, which meant a 4am start. We had the perfect winter day for the race – it was cold in the morning, but not much wind.
I was lucky enough to have a priority start for the race. The qualifying standards are a bit silly – the male times are so much harder than the equivalent female times!
I shouldn't complain, because they let me in with my 43:06 from last year.
A couple other people in my squad had either elite/seeded or priority starts (the elites get their name on the bib – very fancy), so we headed to the start together to warm up on the road in front of the start line and to get
intimidated excited about the professional runners and triathletes. I feel like a giant at any running event, especially when elite runners are around!
When the race started I stayed at the back of our starting zone. Someone running 4:15 pace is very different to someone running close to 3 min pace!
The course had changed a little bit since last time. In 2011 we went north for about 5km and then turned around and headed back to the finish. This year we headed south for about 1.5km, then passed the start line again and did a bit of a lollipop to the north. I like courses with a couple turn arounds, too many are annoying but generally I enjoying being able to cheer for people running in the other direction.
The first few km were uneventful. I knew I shouldn't go out too hard, and I think I ran 4:15 for the first km, then settled into around 4:20 pace.
I'm not sure when it started, but I was leapfrogging another runner for a few kms. At around the 6km mark we decided to start running together. It was exactly what I needed – I definitely slowed down in the second 5km, but it could have been much worse! We didn't say much, just the occasional supportive word.
My next big boost came in the final km. Our squad had a tent set up about 700m from the finish line, and hearing everyone cheering was absolutely phenomenal. I knew from last year that reaching the squad means we're almost done!
The finish line is in a slightly different position to the start line, and it feels like a bit of a maze getting in there. You don't actually get to see the finish line until you're practically on top of it.
The worst part about this last section was the smell of breakfast wafting from the corporate tents. I felt positively ill from the smell of bacon cooking!
In the end, my 'rabbit' finished a couple seconds ahead of me. I finished in 44:48, only 10 seconds slower than at Noosa, but with a lot less training!
For the firs time ever I thought I was going to vomit after I crossed the finish line! I had to grab a vomit bag as soon as we crossed the line – I've never seen them offered at a race before but man I was glad they had them at GC! I didn't need it at the end, I just kept dry-heaving for a few minutes. Lovely…
I think there were a couple reasons for the stomach upset. I'd tried a different breakfast (I normally don't eat before morning runs but I like to have something in my stomach for races) – needless to say, Sustagen was a bad choice!
The second reason was the smell of bacon. Funnily enough, some people loved the smell :s
And finally, of course, was the lack of training. I was definitely pushing to my limit!
The rest of the morning was spent swapping war stories, and cheering on the kid's races. It was a beautiful day – the sun was shining, and even people who didn't make their goal were still happy.
I wish I could've watched the runners the following day. There was a big group of first-timers running the marathon in memory of Steff, who we tragically lost at the start of the year. I didn't know Steff very well, so I didn't know that she was suffering depression (I don't know if many people did). It brought home to me that it can affect to anyone, even someone as gorgeous, talented and well loved as Steff. The group raised a lot of money for SANE, and all runners finished. They are such an inspiring group!
It's such a difficult issue to talk about, but one that is so very very important. Char spoke about it in this post, and she puts it into words much better than I ever could.
This one's for you, Steff.