It seems my running destiny was determined the day I won a 3 month online training voucher with a bloke called Coach Ray, who helps train beginning and recreational athletes. I had always run for fun, but a long term iliotibial band problem had stopped me running much distance in the last 25 years. Luckily just before winning my Qwik Kiwi voucher, I had also found a fantastic physio who finally sorted out my knee issue. It seemed my running stars had aligned. When Ray asked me what my goals were, I told him that I would quite like to run the Queenstown marathon, and so the training began.
I had endless questions about my Garmin. VO2 max, 80/20 running, pace zones and more. Ray’s expertise, patience and encouragement were a catalyst for success during my journey. I found myself loving my training, I was motivated by green training lights, encouraged when I hit my fartlek pace zones and frustrated by niggling injuries. On a coaching call 7 weeks before my race I remember telling Ray that I was feeling so good and I just couldn’t wait for my race. Unfortunately, that was obviously tempting fate as later that week during a long run I tweaked my calf muscle. I visited my physio, dropped back the training and worked hard on my rehab. I had confidence in my 6 months base training and felt that I could still reach the start line. I spent the lead up week listening to inspiring running podcasts and visualizing running freely to the finish line.
Surprisingly on the day of the race, I wasn’t nervous. I was quite confident that my preparation would be adequate and that my training was enough. I was having a great time, and the first 21km flew by, but then I was into unknown territory. As organised as I was, nothing could prepare me for the dreaded leg cramps that set in around the 32km mark. My contracting quads felt like they were being possessed by some outside being. As a marathon rookie, I was surprised that my mind was so willing, but my body so unwilling. I walked and ran the rest of the course to the end and did eventually cross that 42.2km finish line. So was it that moment of happiness and euphoria that I visualized? Hell no! I was tired, sore, and disappointed. This feeling actually stayed with me for about 24 hours until I comprehended the fact that only around 1% of people will ever finish a marathon and that to finished your first under 5 hours when you are a woman over 50 is not a bad achievement.
So has this experience put me off running marathons? Well within 5 days I was on the phone to Ray scheduling my training around the Hawkes Bay Marathon in May. On reflection these words are so true. “It was being a runner that mattered, not how fast or how far I could run. The joy was in the act of running and in the journey, not in the destination.” – John Bingham
– Robyn Williams