Yesterday, Sunday 21st May 2017, I completed my first Half Marathon ever, in my home city of Sydney. After giving up my party lifestyle eight weekends ago, this day was the main focus in my life.
I made running my everything.
I trained regularly, mainly 5km – 7km circuits around Bondi. Three weekends ago I ran the 14km ‘City To Surf’ route from Hyde Park to Bondi to test my fitness and found it easy.
The next week, two weekends ago, I ran from Bondi to Double Bay and back – covering 20km. This wasn’t so easy!. I hadn’t eaten enough, I got dehydrated as I ran out of water and then felt really ill when I pulled up. I was, in a word: F**KED!.
I had run the distance ok but my lack of preparation and recovery was a problem. I felt like I was going to choke at one point soon after I stopped.
It was scary – so I knew I had to take the next two weeks seriously for the big day. I started to read various articles from professional runners and websites.
I learned I needed to pretty much take it steady in the two weeks before. I needed to eat carbs every day and do easy 20 – 30 minutes runs, and walks – nothing testing, to keep my legs fresh.
Basically, after I did my 20km run I hardly did anything these last 14 days. I was out every day but the short distances made me feel lazy and the uptake in carbs made me feel like a little fatty.
But I knew I was on the right track. So I kept at it.
Feeling sick at 5am
Yesterday morning I woke up just before 5am to eat before planning to leave home at 530am(ish).
I planned a huge pasta to keep me going – but couldn’t face it. Sicky feelings turned in my tummy. So had cereal.
I also planned to have a banana about 15 mins before starting and remembered I had left it in my cupboard when I was on the bus!. So had a gel pouch (electrolyte pouches, from the chemist, are designed to keep you hydrated. They’re super easy to consume during your run too).
The bus in from Bondi made me feel sick. I’m not a fan of transport at the best of times but it was definitely my ol’ nerves at play.
But – the bus was packed with fellow runners and my excitement levels started to fully kick in. I felt sick but kept it under control.
Getting to the start line
Arriving at Hyde Park, still in the Autumn darkness, the first thing I thought was ‘’need toilet immediately. Can’t go without loo roll, I’ll puke if I have to go without it’’ – the loo queue was long but all good. Toilet = done. No dramas right?.
It was time to stop faffing and over-thinking and line up.
The first two parts of my video show me getting revved up, the second one shows my nerves in full throttle – I am talking absolute rubbish!
The start of something special
Having decided not to look ahead into too much of the route (I had a vague idea from the maps online) I was keen to get going and settle into my stride. One of my team in work had told me that one of the last bits was all ‘uphill from the Botanical Gardens’, so I knew, whatever I met on the way I would hit a hill at the end.
I settled into my stride within minutes. I just kept thinking ‘I feel good!’. I felt a real sense of ~power of the people~ as I ran amongst 11,000 fellow runners of all paces, shapes and ages.
A few KM’s in we passed the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge (cue my ‘I love Sydney!’ feelings).
Practice makes easyyyy
From there on out I was surprised at how many hills I had to tackle. Who knew Sydney wasn’t flat?!. Looking back now I honestly feel like 80% of the run was up or down hill.
Every time we went up I thought of the hill I’ve pushed myself up so many times now (Hunters Park, at the bottom of Bondi Road). Nothing on the route compared to what I did at home.
I enjoyed every hill – feeling so good when so many were hitting walls around me was mentally empowering.
The hills seriously spurred me on – it was on them, I found my extra bit of spark. I felt goosebumps run through my body a few times on route – its surreal to feel that good at a time when you’re being physically pushed to the max.
I tried drinking ‘on the move’ – almost impossible but it worked (I slowed right down but kept going forwards). Slowing down felt weird, like if I went slow it was a time I felt a split-second of weakness.
We heart Firemen
We passed a fire station and I shouted out to the firemen that ‘we love’ them. No one else was saying much around me at the that point.
That was one of the most suprising things for much of the course – it’s very quiet. You’re surrounded by hundreds of people at all times but many are silent, locked in their own concentration and/ or battles with their mind and body.
It’s a case of you vs. you – which version of you is guna win?!.
Mr Hanky the half marathon poo
Around the 13KM mark I really needed the toilet – I had been swallowing gels every half hour and had also had one 15 mins pre-race, as per the instructions. So had had three by then. I’d also had two slow-downs for water.
The gels certainly helped keep me full of energy throughout but I’m also damn sure they made me want the loo!. Catch 20poo situation over here!!. (poo-pun intended). That was the worst part of the race for me. Yep; gross (but its life!). Even the Queen poos after all.
I kept worrying I was ‘guna pull a Paula Radcliffe’ and had to keep trying to make sure I was running with my back straight so my poor belly didn’t have any extra pressure on it. If it came to it I would have gone behind a road sign or something (thank all the Gods it never came to that!).
Losing my mind at 17km
At 15km I text my friends to tell them ‘’6km away’’. Then soon after my next video says ‘I have no idea where I am in miles’ – I had completely forgotten where I had just been!.
At that point I think I was around 17km deep – apparently 17km is the breaking point for many, or where you find your strength. I wasn’t feeling tired but I was certainly in some state of delirium. It was quite bizarre.
Saving the best ‘til last
The last four KM’s were the best. I knew I was the on the home straight and I knew I was in great form. I felt unreal. Super Lain!. More hills but I wasn’t scared – Lara Lain was in her element! Lara Lain was loving her life!.
I had so much energy I decided to (try to) gee up the people who were struggling and patted lots of people walking on the back ‘’you’ve got this!’’ / ‘’keep going!’’ / ‘’nearly there!’’.
Some smiled and started running again (success!), some looked truly worn out and hating me a lil bit (sorry guys!).
I hope I was the girl that helped them battle on, not the annoying one who looked like she was having too much fun (lets face it, I was probably both!).
The magic three-legged dog
Just as I was about to turn for the final hill, up through the botanical gardens that I had been pre-warned about, I saw a dog with three legs. Imagine my delight! He was a sign of positive vibes!.
He was out on his little walk having the time of his life. I thought ‘if he’s that happy with three legs I can smash this last bit with my two!’.
I dug deep up that final hill and by the time I came to turn for the finish line I was over the moon and just so excited.
The man presenting the day ran the last bit with me and the crowd were going crazy cheering me on – I lost my head a little bit at that point, I was so, so happy!.
Chasing new highs
I crossed that finish line in high spirits and great form.
Never before have I experienced anything like yesterday. I was so proud of my body and so grateful that I got to experience such a genuine rush of feelings and emotions.
It was a high like no other. I didn’t need anything but myself to reach these new limits and it was just unreal.
If you have any interest in taking up running (or committing to running a distance you thought was out of your reach) – trust me, when I say this – you can do it.
You just need to dedicate a bit of you to you. Really sit up and take note of what you need to do to make your goal real.
I’ve never been more tune with my body and mind as I am right now. It’s an exciting place to be – I feel untouchable.
Watch my story unfold below (5 mins)
- Huge thanks to every single person who has donated to my charity page. Together we have raised over $850 for Livin – It ain’t weak to speak.
- If you didn’t donate but are now aware of the charity, I thank you for taking interest in such a great cause.
- Thank you to my lovely, lovely friends, Mexi, Zoe, Jaime & Dan for meeting me at the finish line – I felt like we were a little Sydney family yesterday.
Thank you for reading and sharing my journey with me .