I started my preparation for this race… the night before with carb loading 😀

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It’s been a month since the last marathon and I didn’t do any running, however I went to the gym quite regularly, so that should count right?

Anyway, despite my standard lack of preparation, I was looking forward to running, catching up with Dorota and seeing Queen Elizabeth Park as I’ve never been there before 🙂

Dorota came the night before so that we didn’t have to get up too early. Race mornings are always a rush, no matter what you do and this was no exception.

We had breakfast (standard toast with jam and banana) and left 15 min later than we should have done.

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We got to the park and joined all the runners waiting for the race briefing.

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The atmosphere was really nice even though there weren’t crowds – or maybe because of it! Some runners seem more prepared than others:

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The race director Phil Hoy called everyone for a race briefing around 10:30. He stressed that the course was hard and that it’s a difficult race. Especially because of the fact that we were about to do two laps! He also asked us not to retire half way.

He introduced Amanda who was assigned to be at the half-way/end of 1st lap point to help us carry on.

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Phil mentioned that the whole course was marked, however there are some “funny” people out there, who move the signs and let you enjoy going infinitely in the wrong direction. Therefore team Second Wind Running went to extra measures to help us stay on route and sprayed arrows on the ground and put orange and cerise ribbons in the trees.

Cerise caused some problems, but Phil sorted it out by presenting a few examples 😉 You can check it out if you’re curious ( #F400A1).

Amanda gave us the signal to go and there was no turning back, off we went.

The race started with a zigzag uphill section, it wasn’t vicious, just hard enough.

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What goes up… so we went back down again, then some tarmac and back up. It continued: up and down through pretty surroundings. And there were dogs, quite a few of them, so we didn’t miss any opportunities to stop and pet them 😀

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The first station was at around 7.5 km and it welcomed us with a feast. They had the famous pineapple and cheese snacks, which I couldn’t resist and other yummy things:

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And we carried on. The next section was really picturesque… I realise that I’ve said that and then put pictures of us… but you have to trust me – it was pretty!.

The park was really busy with walkers, cyclists and dogs (!), there was even an MTB competition 🙂

We got to the second aid station at 15-ish km and had some more pineapple and cheese (I did anyway).

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The sun was out and we were sheltered from the wind, whilst running through the woodland, it was gorgeous!

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Dorota and I were running together, we hadn’t seen each other for over a month and we had a lot to catch up on. The time was passing very quickly and we found ourselves at a halfway point in no time (more like 3h 😉 )! Hello Amanda! 🙂

I don’t know about Dorota, but I wasn’t thinking of stopping, however tempting seeing the finish line at this point was 😀

 

On to the second lap! We knew what was ahead of us and it wasn’t bad at all!

I was feeling much better than during any of the runs that I had so far completed this year. For once, my stomach wasn’t playing up and I was really happy about that 😀

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We decided to take this lap a bit more playfully, to keep each other occupied and not think about our legs, which at this point were getting more and more tired.

Everything was exciting!

Patterns:

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Colours – especially cerise:

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and orange:

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And dogs, dogs are always exciting.

All this was to keep us entertained, but we were really feeling it by then.

We were going from one station to another and I was actually quite happy with the fact that we were doing laps! Everything was familiar now and I knew that at some point we would get to the point where Amanda was, and run through the finish line. Not yet though!

I was starting to feel a pain behind my knee… not great! But I remembered a recommendation my physio gave me when I had problems with my Achilles – stretch every 10 km. So I did:

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We finally got to the ‘second’ aid station, where we met Phil and had a quick catch up.

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We still had over 10 km to do and it was tough. We were talking less and less, both struggling a lot but we didn’t have far to go…

 

Throughout this run we were meeting the same people at different points, and this time the most memorable was the ‘party group’. It was a jolly group of about 6 runners – some from the 100 marathon club, some probably Wannabies (50+ marathons). We never actually ran together but we met at various points.

 

Eventually Dorota and I reached the last few metres before the finish line, where the ‘party group’ cheered us.

 

We crossed the line together, took pictures of our medals (essential!) and had some amazing food (chilli and tomato soup) whilst catching up with Phil and listening to a band.

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It was a really good day and a great event. The atmosphere was amazing, marshals very friendly, Phil helpful as always and the food! Mmmmm!

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