Come on this is the last hill, promise! I say this to a young chap who is struggling at the 14km mark. He is red-faced, sweaty and has a look of pure exhaustion. Are you sure? He puffs back to me. Absolutely! I say. Come on, after this some down and then flat to the end. His posture straightens a little and he keeps running on.
Up ahead is a young woman walking, as I get up to her I see the look of misery on her face. Come on, I say. Run with me for a bit. I chat away about running and Tasmania and tell her lots of silly stuff. She too straightens, smiles a bit and keeps on running.
I catch up with an older man. He is walking. How are you going? I ask. Oh, not too good, he says. This my 11th run of this event and I’m struggling. Come on, I say. Let’s chat and run. We run together for a bit.
With just 4kms to go I come across a lady who is doing it tough. Stooped. Walking. Looking defeated. Her friends are encouraging her and she just wants them to run on and leave her to her misery. Come on, I say. It’s less than a parkrun to go! All her friends say, Yeah! Less than a parkrun! She smiles and sees the logic and starts to run again.
As we run over the official 21.1km marker point I hear a young lady say: This is the longest I’ve ever run! Everyone around smiles and I give her the thumbs up and say, Well done!
Just after the 21.1km mark I come across a young lady who is walking. Come on, I say, We’re so close, run with me! She doesn’t say anything but looks at me and runs. I chat away. Then as we hear the roar of the crowd we quicken our steps. We round the last corner and there is the finish line in sight. We see the crowd as well as hear them. Come on, I say. Sprint to the finish! Off she goes! She crosses the line first and then I come plodding through. She comes over and thanks me and hugs me for helping her with the last couple of kms.
Louise and Pauly turn to each other and say, She’s made a new friend on the run.
And I did. I made lots of new friends. The Great Ocean Road Half Marathon was the sweetest, friendliest run I’ve done for a long time. I had the race nutirion right and for the first time in a long time no worries with gut issues. I set out to have fun and enjoy myself and I did.
AND with every word of encouragement I uttered to other runners I was encouraging myself and remembering what it feels like to struggle. AND being grateful that it was my day for a wonderful run and my day to be the encourager. My day to return the favour for all the wonderful encouragement I’ve received from other runners when I was struggling.
I encouraged countless people. I stopped frequently to take in the views of the ocean and the cliffs and snap photos. I thanked every volunteer that I ran by. The best run ever!
I was there for a fun time not a fast time.
Unsporty Woman Great Ocean Road Stats:
- Facebook updates: 4
- Koala sightings: 1
- Photo stops: way too many to count!
- Hills: lots!
- Happy chats: heaps
- 21:1km time: 2:20:23
- 23km time: 2:29:58 (scraping in just under 2:30:00 as I’d predicted)
- Category position: 44 out of 82
- Overall position: 1980 out of 2487
- Happiness: off the scale
This run has demonstrated everything that I love about running. Running for fun. Running for challenge (those undulating hills were a slog in places). It was my second slowest half marathon but one of my happiest.
Louise and I had a good chat about the run in the back seat of the hire car as we drove back to Melbourne on Monday. I sort of think I should aim to run a bit faster and stopping to update facebook certainly doesn’t make me faster. (But I saw a Koala!) You just aren’t competitive, you run for fun, and that’s not a bad thing, Louise suggested to me. I think she’s right. I’m not. I like to be fit and have endurance to run a long way. It’s crossing the finish line and feeling good about it that makes it a wonderful run. (Poor old Huey, Louie and Daffy had to wait 30 minutes for me though – they all say they don’t mind).
I had lots of lovely encouraging texts from Janette; I mentioned that it was a really slow time for me and that perhaps I should’ve tried a bit harder. She suggested that if I’d left my phone at home I’d have finished 15 minutes faster but loved the updates so was glad I had it with me.
The Great Ocean Road Marathon event is rated by some as being in the top 30 marathon events in the world. It is! It is simply stunning. My goal on Sunday was to run all the way, to finish; to enjoy the beautiful scenery and the sound of the crashing waves. One day we’re coming back to run the 45km marathon.
Half Marathon Number 11? I loved it!!!
Happy running 🙂
Ps the distances are a little over the standard marathon and half marathon distances because the courses run from town to town. The road is so narrow in places that a town is the most logical place for the starts and finishes.
PPs We’re in Western Australia for the week visiting my daughter. I will post the profile of the course when I get back to my pc.