Four weeks later and I find myself reflecting on my experience at the Rotterdam Marathon in quite a different light compared with a few weeks ago.
I’ll start by saying that it was tough. Yes, the marathon is tough, and that is one of the reasons why I love it. But out of each of the marathons I’ve run so far, this was the hardest one and one where I know I emptied the tank physically and emotionally. When you put everything you’ve got into training, dedicate yourself completely and fly half way across the world to race, you’re relying on everything to come together for race day. And that can be emotionally draining. You need to make it to the start line fit, healthy, injury-free, rested and carb-loaded. Then you cross your fingers that the weather and the ‘uncontrollables’ are on your side…
This was the first time I have gone into a marathon with a plan. In the past I’ve just run to feel, knowing that I was in shape to run a PB off the step-up in training and preparation. I had my 5K split times memorised and the plan was to hit halfway in 76 minutes with the goal of a 2:32-2:33 marathon. I was well on track until 25K, when the head wind became really noticeable and I had to push hard into it, not having anyone around me to hide behind. I passed the Kenyan female at 28K and then the Ethiopian female at 30K and put myself into 5th place, thinking that was a good sign I was still on track. It was at 35K when I saw the clock and found myself 90 sec behind my goal time! I told myself to relax, keep pushing and do my best to get on the heels of a runner ahead to find some wind protection. But there were no runners to catch and I found myself even further behind my goal pace at the 40K mark. The last two kms were a struggle and I did my best to dig deep and run hard. I crossed the finish line in 2:34:33 in 5th place. A new PB and two places above my ranking… but I was devastated.
As time went by and I debriefed with my coach, my family, and myself I felt better about my performance and the experience I’ve gained from running another big race. Of course I’m happy with a PB, 5th place, World Championship qualifier and Olympic qualifier; who wouldn’t be? But it was the time I was chasing in this one, and after a big build up, a lot of supporters backing me, a long trip overseas, and the pressure that I put on myself, it was hard to accept that I was faced with such a strong head wind on the day. That is the marathon; I love that it is tough and I never thought it was easy. There are a lot of things to learn in this event and I have identified some things to work on. So onwards and upwards, and fingers crossed I’m selected for my second Aussie team this year!
To everyone who supported my Pozible campaign for this marathon, I cannot thank you enough, and I hope I can tell you all in 10 days time that I’m off to Beijing in August! A big shout out to Tom, Mum and Coach Dick who came all the way to Rotterdam to support me, to Miranda Boonstra for a wonderful week of preparation in the Netherlands, and to everyone at home that always backs me!