Yesturday while competing in the Melbourne Marathon one could say I had both the worst of days and the best of days but I will choose the best of days. But let me start at the begining.
We arrived at the MCG, (Melbourne Cricket Ground) where the start and finish would be, placing our dry clothing bag in the bagging area by 6.15am and walked to the starting area which is about 10 minutes walk. It was about 10 Deg C for the start so though it was crisp it was not so cold you were shivering. Once down in the start area Jeff and I found a place towards the back of the runners so as to not risk being tripped of pushed in the rush for the start. Your time starts when you cross the start line courtesy of the timing chip on the back of our race number.
While standing waiting for the start listening to the interviews conducted by the MC being blasted out to the assembled throng Jeff and I were speaking about our training, our goal for the day and strategy. Then with about a minute to the 7.00am start I had a few pains in my gut. I did'nt take much notice though as I was feeling good and it was probably a combination of nerves and wind anyway.
The gun goes off with a warning from the MC that there would be a "loud bang" but not to be alarmed which I thought was strange and we were away, first at a walk then a jog trying not to trip over anything as 7,460 runners move forward almost as one behind the elite runners.
As Jeff and I settled in behind the 4 hour pacer, I again had a bit of pain in my right side like a stich but again I dismissed it. We arrived and passed through the first drink station at 5 Km then about a km past I (sorry but there's no other way of saying this) had to use a toilet and NOW, but I could'nt see any around. I paniced but then out of the corner of my eye saw a Subway so I ran over and it was open and headed to the loo. However another runner had beaten me to it so as I did the highland fling trying to put my mind something else, the door opens and its mine just in the knick of time.
Once out and back in the race I kept to my pace (4 Hr Pace)as I still had 38km to make the 8-10 minute up that I'd lost. However it wasn't long before my stomach and gut were cramping again and I had to repeat the process, find a loo in a hurry. This cycle happened 4 times in total over the first 20 km but though after the last time I used the loo I had nothing in my system my gut and right side was constantly cramping. This meant I was running hunched over as this gave me a little relief from the pain. Three times during the race the route doubles back on itself meaning you run past those ahead of you and twice Jeff saw me ran accross the median strip to high five me not knowing what had happened or what I was going through which was a huge boost to me.
Twice during the race I also had St. Johns ambulance staff who were patrolling the course on bikes ride up to me to ask if I was ok and if I needed any help. The second time they came to me they said "there was no shame in stopping as you had given it your all" but I assured them I was ok to continue.
By this time I had been walk-running for most of the way due the the cramps and when I was running/shuffling I was hunched over meaning I was not striding correctly therefore running with no form at all. Then on top of the stomach cramps from about 30km my right quad was also cramping, I suspect due to the poor form I was using. Through all this I knew that I risked dehydration so I was drinking a cup Hydralite and a cup of water at every drink station.
After the second trip to the toilets I knew that my 4hr finish was out the window so I gave myself permission to stop if need be, I reset my goal which was now to finish, and I promised myself to try to enjoy the day as best I could. When the running was hard and I was in pain I thought of my sister who has had huge issues with infected and ulcerated legs, my wifes father who not long ago had a heart attack and Lori's mother inlaw and my lot did'nt seem too bad. I just kept reaffirming my new goal, and putting one foot in front of the other. My mantra for the day was "Strength, Form, Focus", form was out the window but I concentrated on the other two, Strength and Focus as I repeated my mantra over and over sometimes out loud. As I continued I saw many drop out, people on the road being attended by the medical staff and I even managed to pass a few people that were'nt in a good place.
Then though in a world of pain, my right quad cramped, my whole body aching from poor form and being on the road for almost 5 hours I realized that the finish was only a couple of Km away. So I shuffled as best I could to the finish with everyone clapping and cheering me on over the last 200M and I crossed the line in 5:05.23. They called my name out over the loud speaker urging me to keep going as I approached the finish and on crossing the line an official came accross to me asked if I needed medical treatment. Upon me reassuring him I was ok he directed me to where I had to go the recieve my finishers medal and something to drink and eat.
It was so humbling, I felt like I was the centre of attention and I felt I didn't deserve it because all I'd done is completed a race, complete what I had set out to do of my own free will.
When they put the medal arround my neck and congratulated me on finishing I had tears in my eyes as the realization of what I had just achieved flooded over me. Then as I turned with my medal proudly around my neck everyone who was waiting for me, my family, Jeff and his family came apon me worried as I was an hour late. Of cause I had no way of letting them know what had happened but as I was explaining my wife started to laugh and then apologise, but for what?
The night before as we had been out to a friends place for lunch we only felt like a light dinner and I wanted to be careful of what I ate. So we bought some fresh crusty bread and ate a garden salard with the bread. My wife also made up a dip of balsamic vinigar and olive oil and as we did'nt have a lot of balsomic vinigar it was more olive oil than vinigar. I happened to really like just the olive oil and the fresh crusty bread and I ate, well, nearly all the bread and a considerable amount of extra virgin olive oil. ..... BINGO LOL
Now I said at the begining "that one could say I had both the worst of days and the best of days but I will choose the best of days". I had the best of days because though I had every reason to stop I didn't, I was able to reassess my goal and keep going. People I've told have all been either disapointed for me or have said bad luck or said I must be so disapointed with what happened. But I feel fantastic about what has happened and what I've achieved, the time it took is secondary almost irrelevant , I was able to keep going, to dig deep, to reassess and reshape my goal coming through it all a winner and I'd say almost a different person. I now know I can cope with anything a race or training can throw at me, that pain is just pain and can be worked through. I couldn't and would'nt be happier even if I had broken 3 hours, I learn't what I'm made of when the chips are down and everythings seems to be going to hell in a hand basket I can prevail.
I have a huge thankyou to say to everyone here, for your support and help, you have all been wonderful and so giving. so THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH.