I’ve always loved competing – whether its been on the tennis court, inside the classroom, playing monopoly, or competing against others in my footy tips. Some may think I’m a little TOO competitive, but that’s just something that’s been instilled in me from a young age. Plus, what fun would it be without a little niggle here and there at your competition?
For the most part my competition has always been on the other side of the tennis court – an opponent whose looking to get the win just as much as me… Rallies going back and fourth, score lines fluctuating, momentum shifts, the controllable and the uncontrollable, but at the end of the day the scoreline determined whether I won or lost.
Running, on the other hand, is quite different. For me, I’ve found there’s two things I’m competing against – myself and the clock. A perfect example was my first race last Sunday – the Bunbury Half Marathon. Yep 21km of just me and a footstep at a time. I’d only entered a few days prior, but thought the race would be great test of what to expect when the Perth Marathon comes around (only 9 weeks to go, yikes!) and in terms of preparation it was the perfect race to run. Initially I had planned to just the run the half marathon as part of my training and not worry so much about “the time”, but of course the competitor in me came out and my mindset quickly changed to “GAME ON”! I had a time frame I wanted to complete the half marathon in so I set myself three goals – 1) An easily obtainable goal 2) A realistic yet moderately challenging goal and 3) An ultimate goal.
For the most part it was a flat course (although there were a couple of hills) but BOY did I learn a lot about myself and about racing in general. I had the nerves (I was soo nervous, I can’t imagine how I’m going to feel pre Perth Marathon!), the adrenaline, the excitement … pretty much every feeling you get before a big match! The challenging thing for me was knowing that I was racing against myself and not knowing how my body was going to react (I had never run that far in my life!). On top of that I had a time I wanted to run but everything was up to me – making sure I didn’t go out too hard too soon, pacing myself well enough that by the 16km mark I could kick it up a notch, making sure to take sips of water at each station (I learnt the best way to sip is to hold the cup in a V and to take in about 100ml), and then making sure to take my Gu Gel at the right time and close enough to a water station. You can plan it all in your head but the only way of figuring it all out is by actually doing it!
I’m not going to lie – the half marathon definitely had it’s challenges and at times the mind started to play games. For me, the 12km-16km was the hardest because you’re in “no-man’s land”. You’re neither near the start nor near finish and it’s simply a grind. But once I reached the 16km I somehow found another gear – the adrenaline kicked in again and I was able to pick up my pace and found a really good rhythm . I finished the race in 1 hour 45min (happy with that!)! but I don’t think I would have been able to achieve my goal had it not been for the volunteers and other runners cheering me on. Those little comments of “great job, good rhythm, nearly there, keep going” go a long way when your mind may possibly thinking otherwise!
Overall I loved the experience – except for this one guy that would literally blow out boogers from his nose every two seconds, seriously get yourself a hanker chief! But, and there’s always a BUT, I know I still have a lot of work ahead of me, and some things to address -blisters are one of them!
Anyways… First race down, first half marathon complete, and first medal received!!
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“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start” – John Bingham