Growing up in Tasmania, our weekends revolved around watching the AFL.  I absolutely loved it and for years you could throw a team and a number at me and I could straight up tell you the players name.  When I moved to Melbourne I had to live in Richmond to be in walking distance and the first year living there I went to 28 AFL games. I love the MCG, I get tingles being there.

So of course, it was only a matter of time until I did the Melbourne Marathon.  I decided to do it as my 3rd marathon in hope that I would get a PB.  When I was hit with piriformis syndrome in April I was devastated thinking that my Melbourne Marathon campaign was over, instead I decided that it would be a great motivator and force me to do all the right recovery things to get me there.  There were a few people who had some doubts that I would make it and I couldn’t wait to show them!

I trained for 18 weeks using the Hanson’s Marathon Method training for a sub 4-hour goal time.  My training was on track for 4:05 and I was hoping the race day vibes would get me under 4 hours.

Fast forward to race day. The morning started perfectly with my boyfriend flying down last minute and getting me to the start line with loads of time.  I seeded myself with the 4-hour pacers and stood around for 30 minutes chatting to the fantastic people around me filled with excitement.

Although there were 7,238 starters for the marathon, the start flowed well, and my first km was 5:42 pace.  The feeling running through a closed Flinders Street was incredible.  The space they allowed the runners was a stand out for me and I hope Melbourne City continue this for a long time to come.

I started out feeling fantastic running with the pacer, but when they started running 5:15 pace to make up for a slower incline, I began questioning my ability to keep up.  I missed the first water stop because it was manic and while the second one was calmer I had to push to catch back up to the pacers. I had trained hard for this goal and I was determined to give it my best shot, so I decided that I was going to stick at out to 10km and see how I felt since many of my training runs took me 8kms to warm up.  Unfortunately, during the week my Chiro had told me that both my piriformis where now inflamed and with those words in my head and the pain in my hips, I slowed my pace down to around 5:45.  I was not willing to tear up my body and take months to recover when I was already hurting this much only 10km in.

It was tough watching those pacer flags disappearing.  I felt disappointed and there was a feeling of failure too since I’d been loud on social media about chasing the sub 4-hours.  But then I ran into my friend Steve who had been suffering the flu and was also feeling the pinch.  We chatted about how just getting to the start line is a massive achievement and when the goal is out of sight it is a great opportunity to enjoy the scenery and the race day atmosphere.

As I ran along Port Melbourne I high fived the kids, tried not to stop and pat the dogs and lapped up the cheers from the sidelines.  I took another crush when the 4:10 pacers came along, I tried for a while to stay with them thinking that they may motivate me, but I couldn’t hold the pace without pain.

Clear blue skies and sunshine made running through St Kilda absolutely stunning.  There was a buzz in the air running along Fitzroy Street and down past Luna Park.  This is where I felt the best and got some great pace and momentum going.  By this stage the deal with myself was to run until walking through the water stations.  I kept this up until 30km.

Coming back up St Kilda road was tough.  I had checked out the course online and knew that this was going to be a test for me.  I wasn’t disappointed!
I’ve never seen so many people stopping on the side to stretch or sit down.  This is where my training had paid off.  While my piriformis where wrecked, meaning my glutes weren’t firing and powering me, my head was strong knowing that I’d ran on tired legs consistently.

St Kilda Road is tree lined and pretty, but those trees paired with the wind made leaves and dust fly everywhere.  It was horrible and I was glad I’d had antihistamines in the morning.

Then you run back through the botanical gardens.  8kms to go and I’m being handed a raspberry Zooper Dooper. Awesome! But that’s where the fun ended.  The gardens where really hard for me, I wanted to cry from the pain in my hips (even after Panadeine forte) and trying to run any sort of incline was proving to be difficult.  I walked quite a lot of these 5kms, however knowing that I wanted to run into the MCG I kept rolling the legs over, so they wouldn’t seize.

I was super excited coming up to Flinders Street station, I’d seen the most amazing photos previously and got myself camera ready.  But DAMN IT! The women in front of me stopped to get a standing photo together.  Yes – I am pissed!

Running back up Flinders Lane you cannot get the MCG out of you sights, yet I still had to walk/run due the pain because of the slight incline.  When I saw the turn to run into the MCG, I took out my music and off came the sunglasses.  I burst into tears as I saw the lush green grass, the big screens and the enormity of the stadium.  Oh. My. God.  This moment was a dream come true.  I looked down at my brothers name temporarily tattooed on my arm and bawled my eyes out for the whole lap – it meant that much to me.

Crossing the line and going through the chute was surreal.  I cannot get over how many others were crying and how many people were vomiting.  It seemed to be a tough day out for everyone.

Because I LOVE bullet point lists here’s the highlights:

  • Running major roads of Melbourne City completely closed down for us
  • Doing a jump shot for the photographer in port Melbourne
  • Singing and dancing to myself to keep those last 5kms from hurting – it works!
  • Running with Steve in parts, it’s great to see a friend on course
  • The camaraderie on course, I had an amazing girl pep talk me for the last KM and we got to hug at the finish
  • Shout out from Brownie on course – I’m always own zone so I love it when I get a shout
  • The volunteers – they must have been hot and exhausted, but they smiled all day
  • Having Jack at the finish line. In the hard moments I kept running because I just wanted to get to him.  And to cake!
  • Lastly and most of all – running into the MCG

Would I recommend the race to a friend?  Absolutely!
It was only injury that made the course so tough on me, as I sit here now my quads are burning which means my form was a disaster with no glutes firing.  The course and race are fantastic and you cannot top that finishing line!