Less than a month after the Sydney marathon I was on a plane for a quick visit to Melbourne for yet another marathon.
My body was still sore and tired with little recovery over the past few weeks, but I knew the mental challenge would be the biggest of them all. Knowing I had to run another 42.2km, and always keeping in the back of my mind the potential of another PR.
Melbourne’s notorious weather was keeping me on my toes for race day with predictions of rain, wind and humidity. Sooner rather than later I’d find out that my preference for wind over rain was one I’d only ask for once.
The course is Melbourne is really flat, so I thought that would help run a faster pace than Sydney.
As I did my usual ritual of setting out all my race day gear the night before on my friend Laura’s living room, I felt strong, confident and a little bit nervous for Sunday morning.
On my way to the marathon just before 6am, my Uber driver asked me where I was going in sports clothes at 6am.
“I am running in the Melbourne marathon”. He confusingly asked what a marathon was. When I explained a running race of 42.2km I giggled at his mind-boggled response: “Do you get to take breaks along the way?”.
I was really hoping I wouldn’t need any breaks.
As I approached the start line, I said a quick hello to my friend Priscilla running her first marathon and snapped an all smiles photo.
I crept closer to the start line, I like starting with the men, then they can overtake me. Fellow type 1 athlete, Alex Kozeniauskas came up and said hi, we wished each other luck and he was aiming for a 3 hr marathon…just a few steps ahead of me.
My BGL was on 14 when I started, not bad with all the adrenaline running through my system.
I mistakeningly gave a bolus of 0.2 units through my pump at about the 2km mark as my BGL was heading up.
My first 5K I felt strong and fast even though a little windy. I was running a 4:20 km pace and thought the 3:20 marathon was in sight if I could hold it.
Then I hit the 10km mark and my body decided it didn’t want to run a marathon any more. My BGL had triple arrows down showing on my CGM and my feet where starting to hurt after I destroyed them pretty badly in Sydney.
I ate 45g of carbs through a Clif Bar and some sugar covered Apricot slices and half a banana at one of the drink stations.
Managing to drop to 6.8mmol/L and then stabilising at 8.
Diabetes ran pretty smooth for the rest of the race. Creeping up towards the end when I had slowed down to a snail pace.
My feet and body on the other hand, didn’t want to move, let alone move fast, and the strong winds were definitely not helping me both physically and mentally.
I really didn’t want to DNF, a little bit for my ego and also to try and push through one of the most challenging mental barriers I’d faced in a race to date.
I knew my friend Laura was going to be cheering me on at the 30km mark so that got me through a painful 20 or so kms.
As she was cheering me on, all I could muster saying was “I am dying”. At the time I didn’t feel it was a dramatic representation of the thoughts going on in my head.
As I got closer to the finish line yet slower each km, I knew I was going to finish the race. The last 2kms I gave it my all and ran into the stadium at a nice 5 min km pace to cross the finish line with a huge smile and being so grateful to have completed my third, yet toughest marathon. With an added bonus of another diabetic friend Adam cheering for me at the finish line.
What I learnt from the Melbourne marathon:
- Some things on race day are out of your control.
The weather conditions were the toughest I have run in, 40km head winds were a lot worse than the torrential I experienced in the Brooklyn Half Marathon 2 years prior. Weather plays a big role in your performance on the day, whether it be positive or negative and you’ve just got to go with it.
- Your race goal can change at any time during the race.
When I hit the 10km mark I knew I wasn’t going to run a 3:20 marathon. The wind played a big role, but mostly my body just wasn’t ready to run fast for that long. I had to tell myself a few times that this was okay and changing my goal to completing the marathon helped me to keep going. Motivating yourself is key in any race.
- Everything happens for a reason.
I needed to experience a less than ideal race. I know I will eventually have a DNF and I have learnt even after months and months of training I have to be okay with that. It’s part of any runners life experience. Running Melbourne in my slowest marathon time taught me that it was okay
- Diabetes can sometimes be the smallest struggle.
And this is a win. When your diabetes is under control it doesn’t mean you are going to have your best race but it definitely helps. Diabetes is literally a constant thought on any diabetics mind and can cause anxiety, stress and impact performance. When you are running with ideal blood sugar levels it allows you to focus on other elements of your race with some ease of mind.