I've never really been scared before a race, until Melbourne. From Friday onwards I was feeling nervous, and a little bit apprehensive for the race. It was such a big unknown!
When I arrived in Melbourne the day before the half marathon, the weather was changing quite frequently from overcast and cold, to sunny and warm. This deteriorated through the afternoon, which didn't bode well for race day.
I had been checking the weather forecast constantly in the week leading up to my trip, knowing full well that in Melbourne a forecast means nothing.
After spending the afternoon shopping, I went out for dinner with running friends for a pre-race meal. This seemed like a good idea at the time, but I could hardly eat anything because of nerves. Apparently my stomach does not like constant running chatter before a race!
I woke up at 6am to a cold, but sunny morning. We ended up having perfect racing weather – cold, sunshine, no wind. My pre-race breakfast was a Bonk Breaker bar, and a Pop Tart. Both easy to scoff down and I knew my stomach wouldn't object. I actually never ate Pop Tarts as a kid, but I recently bought some and have been eating them before races with some success – they stop me from being hungry but I don't feel too full.
Finally, it was time to start running.
I took it fairly easy for the first km. Although I had posted my goals previously, by the time race day arrived I decided to go out conservatively and then stay below 5 min/km for as long as possible. After 2km we passed the Lululemon cheer squad for the first time. They were great – so full of energy, and it looked like they planned to be there for the entire morning. They chose a great spot, because they could cheer the half marathon runners on at 2km and 18km, and the marathoners at 2km and maybe 30km.
I vaguely knew where the course went, but the scenery around Albert Park was a nice surprise. The lake is really pretty! This was also at a point in the race that I was still feeling good, so I was able to enjoy it.
I grabbed a mouthful of water at 5km, and then stopped at the 11km mark for a cup of powerade. I don't normally drink during shorter races, so I decided to walk while I drank the powerade. I didn't think a powerade shower would be pleasant…
The fun really started once we got back out onto St Kilda Road. I suspected that I'd start to hurt after about 16km, so that's exactly what happened! I felt like I was slowing down a lot more than I actually did, there were definitely some points where I felt like I was running through quicksand. I also got really tingly at about this point, and sort of shivery. It was such a bizarre feeling.
I had a peanut butter Gu in my pocket, and decided to pull it out at around 17km. I knew it was probably too late to actually have a difference to my muscles at this point, but I wanted it to be more of a morale booster. I've had these a few times on long runs, but my stomach feels different when I'm running hard. I managed to get one mouthful down and then threw away the rest – the thick consistency was too much for me to handle.
Overall, the course is very flat. There's a slight hill in the first kilometer, then the climb over the William Barak footbridge at 20km. I HATED this hill. I knew it was coming, and I didn't stop and walk, but it felt pretty ordinary. After the climb, my tibialis anterior got a bit twitchy – which is ironic seeing that SarahOUAL had recently posted about injuring her leg in the same spot. (Luckily my leg just decided to give me a momentary distraction and not an injury).
The lap of the MCG to finish the race was pretty cool, and a massive relief. My first thought after I crossed the line was
I don't know why anyone would do this for fun.
It took forever to get out of the stadium, but I finally made my way back to my running group. By the time I got back my whole body hurt – even my fingernails were sore! I jokingly told anyone who would listen that the best thing about running the half marathon was that it proved why I like 5km races better (but I wasn't really joking).
Now that I've had time to think about it some more, I will most likely run another half marathon next year. But for now the summer belongs to running fast, not far!