So I’ve been back to normal life for a week already, but I still can’t stop thinking about everything I experienced in Melbourne, including the people I met, the food I ate and most importantly, the Marathon experience (which I described as kind of MAGICAL) I had during this trip. After catching up with my best friend, I decided to write a blog post about the Marathon, in case anyone of you would like to know more about it 🙆🏻♀️
The day before the marathon
I woke up at 5:30am just to prevent myself from not being able to fall asleep at night. I went out to walk around this beautiful city, have some really good food for carb loading (think vegan french toast, acai bowl and vegan sandwiches etc). Then, I went back to my apartment at around 3pm to take a rest, as well as preparing for the big race on Sunday.
The night before the marathon
After preparing a carb loading dinner for myself, I packed up everything I need for the race and wrote a checklist for myself to check tomorrow morning. Usually people like to bring power gel for their races, but I’m not really fond of that kind of sugary thing, so for the races or long distance training, I just grab some dates and energy balls with me. This time, the lovely Cinzia from Nutrition Darling gave me some Smoothie Bombs, which I tried it the day before the race (REMEMBER; DO NOT TRY ANYTHING NEW ON THE RACE DAY) and found it very energy-boosting. So I popped two in my pocket with me.
Race day morning
I found that a checklist is very important and effective for me in avoiding missing out anything due to being too nervous or running out of time in the morning. If you look at the list now, you may consider it as super stupid. As I basically wrote down any single actions I needed to do in the morning. For example, the first three items on my list goes like this:
1. Wear sports Bra
2. Put on Vaseline
3. Put on the watch
By doing this, not only can I ensure that nothing will be missed out, I can also save a lot of time worrying about things to do and can better prepare my mood for the race. After double checking the whole list, I started to walk to the warm clothing area. Properly stored my baggage there and walk to the starting line. By the time I get to the starting line, it’s 6am and the race starts at 7am. So I still got plenty of time to do some stretching and preparing myself for the race. The weather was pretty fine that day, 11-12 degrees Celsius and a bit cloudy, perfect for marathon.
During the race
My target time is only sub-4 hours, so I planned to start at a pace of 5:40 min/km. However, after running for 1km, I feel good and that my legs are full of power, so I decided to push my pace a bit forward to 5:30min/km, and then to 5:20min/km. I found my most comfortable pace to be at 5:20min/km, so I just sticked with it and continue to run. I did saw the 3:50:00 pacer running near me in the beginning. However, they are running at the pace much faster than mine that I found it hard to keep pace with them, as my coach’s strategy is to keep the same speed over the whole race.
I kept this pacing until 30km, however, things have totally changes (although I speeded up to 5:10min/km at 15km). My legs started to become extremely sore and my breathe is a bit heavy. My pace started dropping to 5:30min/km starting from 31km and then gradually to 5:54min/km at 37km. This is a very critical point in a marathon, as I started to feel so desperate, as well as questioning my ability. Unlike the first 30km, which my mind is full of positive thoughts, I started to think of negative things. “I paid so much money in order to travel here just for the marathon, now I just ruined the whole thing and let my parents down.”, “People who have a high expectation on me must be very disappointed” etc.
Suddenly, I saw the 3:50:00 pacer in front of me, so I just told myself, “It’s the last chance, the last chance for you to show to others what you believe in – Vegans can be as strong as, if not stronger than meat-eaters. You should run for yourself, not because of other’s expectation. It’s all about yourself, but not about money or anything. Just go for it! Show them the harsh trainings you did all the way through are worth it!”. After talking to myself, I took off my earphone, stop looking at my watch to monitor the pace and try to gain some power from the crowd’s cheering. I just relied on the pacer to bring me back to the finishing line.
My pacer is called Gary, he is a really good one, as he kept on asking the pedestrians to make some noise for us, which definitely helps in keeping me going. He also kept talking to us to distract us from the pain or sore. And he kept remind that if we continue to keep pace with him, we will be able to reach our targets at 3:50:00.
I didn’t really pay attention to my pacing. I’m just enjoying the race, feeling the crowds and the atmosphere. That way, I feel less pain from my legs. I started to clap my hands with every pedestrians on the road side to distract myself. Every moment, though very short, when I get in touch with those people who are cheering for you, I feel some power filling up my body and this is a very important factor or reason why I finally went back to my pace at 5:30min/km.
At the 41km mark, when my pacing group is slowing down towards the water station, I left them and started to speed up, as I know I can reach my goal. So I just kept running into the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), where there are thousands of people cheering for runners. Runners need to run for a lap in the MCG before crossing the finishing line. When I entered the MCG, I looked at my watch and realised that I can really try to do a sub-3:50, so I speeded up to 4:23min/km and crossed the line at 3:49:44. Then, I smiled with content and can’t wait to tell my parents and my best friend Karen about it.
Thank you Melbourne Marathon! I didn’t know my potential until I was forced to release it. Every marathon journey is a very good way to know more about yourself. It’s about how do you communicate with yourself.