We were watching as each marathoner finished. Cheering. Delighting in witnessing fellow runners achieve this ultimate of goals: finishing a marathon. Some looked like they could do it all over again. Others were completely spent. Their tanks were empty. They were running on pure willpower, pure determination and guts.
I glanced down at my watch.
Fifteen minutes to go until the four hour mark. I turned to Grant and said They might come in close to four hours. They might.
We had paid for a VIP entry for Cadbury Marathon 2016. Chocolate, egg and bacon rolls, coffee, massages. Everything was turned on as well as the best vantage point of the finish line. I wandered and got a coffee then re-entered the finishing chute and stood about 10m from the finish line itself. This is a small event by many standards but large for Tasmania. 800 entrants over all the distances with 300 in the marathon. I stood next to a young lady who was also waiting for a friend. The friend had her phone as a tracker so the lady waiting knew where she was. We had a little chat. I kept scanning the finishers who were coming in dribs and drabs.
Five minutes to go until the four hour mark. Runners have a fairly decent hill to climb to get to the finish line, then about 300m of flat running to the end. I watched as each person appeared on the crest of the hill.
Two minutes to go until the four hour mark. Oh my! Is that Pauly? Nope, another man with grey hair and a mid-blue shirt, not Pauly. I chat a bit more to the lady waiting for her friend.
A man appears over the crest of the hill. His grey-haired head bobs into view. He’s wearing a mid-blue shirt. Those familiar hands held in front of his body with little movement come into range.
It’s Pauly! Just a minute to go until the four hour mark!
I jump up and down. I cheer. Go Pauly, you can make it, sub four hours!!! I’m like a maniac cheering machine as I see my Husband power to the finish. Oh my goodness! Sub four hours! 3:59:24, a Cadbury Marathon PB of nine minutes and the first time sub four hours, Paul’s 4th marathon in 12 months.
I hold him and hug him and support his weary body. His sub-four hour marathoner’s legs are shot. Louie’s not far behind me, he says in exhausted puffs. What??? Close??? Really???
I scan the finish line.
I keep scanning for a few more moments.
Oh my goodness. Here comes the beautiful Louise not just running, she is sprinting. Her form is graceful and her stride is long. She is focused on the finish line with a slight smile. I jump up and down and yell and scream and cry! She powers over that finish line, finishing her third marathon in 12 months!
I hug my weary friend and just can’t believe that she has totally smashed her goal for Cadbury Marathon 2016. She wanted to be faster than her time last year. She took 26 minutes off. She was faster by nearly half an hour!
She was smiling and happy. She loved her run. She’d met up with a chap who not only has run 70 marathons but also is the only Tasmanian who has run a marathon on every continent of the world. He had given her his wisdom and running experience through encouraging words. Louie ran with him during the time in the marathon when it counts the most. But it was her legs running. Her heart pumping. Her mental toughness not allowing her to quit and slow down. She was just a few brief seconds over the four hour mark. Watch this space. Gold Coast Marathon in July? Sub four hours is looking more than promising.
How proud of Pauly and Louise am I? I am more proud than I can say. How valuable was it to me to be there and watch these two finish? More valuable and priceless than the capacity of any bank vault.
And what about the lady waiting for her friend? The friend was the very lovely Megan who I’ve met through blogging and got to meet in person for the first time at the marathon. She ran a fantastic marathon too and had the biggest loveliest smile at the end. So proud of you Megan and so happy to have met you x
Janette ran the half marathon after dealing with some niggles and powered through to finish strong. No PBs but a PB for just being determined not to slow down and not to quit. She cheered and encouraged me at different points of the half marathon. The cheers meant so much but more so her belief that I could keep going at the pace I was attempting to hold. Where would I be without Janette who constantly lifts me up and motivates me?
And what about the Unsporty Woman? Well she did a great half marathon she loved it! I took six minutes off my Cadbury Half Marathon time from 2014 coming in 2:05:09. Pretty happy with that. But even happier that I loved every step. The longer distance training that I’ve been doing is paying off. I didn’t feel like death at the 16km mark like I so often do. I felt happy and strong.
Smiles. Laughs. Cheers. This was the flavour of Cadbury Marathon 2016. Happy people running happy. Happy runners delighting in the achievements of others no matter what the pace or distance.
At first running is just a way to keep fit. For me it was something that I wanted to be able to do with Pauly. But it’s so much more than the act of putting one foot in front of the other. It’s meditation. It’s freedom. It’s a break from the every day. It’s a challenge that shows us what we are made of. For those of us with doubts it shows us that we are indeed strong, we learn that quitting isn’t part of the scenario. Pace and times don’t matter. It’s crossing the finish line that matters. Running teaches us that we can do so much more than what we think we can AND that we can have a lot of fun along the way.
I will never forget the pure joy of watching Pauly and Louise cross the finish line on Sunday.
Happy running 🙂
And now for some happy snaps courtesy of Malcolm, Tina, Janette and some of mine too 🙂