Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Who Said Finishing 5622nd isn't Winning?

Not sure getting up at 5:15am on a Sunday morning is in anyone’s plans, but that is what I did last weekend.  It was 4 degrees and I was in shorts and the obligatory running garb to head off for my first crack at the Run Melbourne Half (Pikermi as we like to call it).  Now this was not my first half marathon as readers of this blog will be aware, but it was a special one for me anyway.  This was the event I decided to sign up for and initially be my first half way back in March.  This was the event that really forced me to go a long way outside my comfort zone and try something never thought possible.

Top of hill on second lap...Not Happy Jan

This event was all the more memorable because there was a total of 7 of my training buddies doing this race as well. What made it even more special was that 5 of them were doing their first Pikermi.  Yes I prefer that term as saying Half Marathon has connotations to it that sound like you are only doing half of something or half trying.  I can vouch that NONE of us were only doing it half-hearted.  To say there were a few nerves at the start is an understatement but we were all excited as well.  The crowd of people was unbelievable and to think that there were so many people, of all shapes, sizes and abilities, all wanting to achieve the same thing was just incredible and a bit daunting.
We all had our own strategies, time goals, and hopes and aspirations.  Kristine, Greg and Melissa wanted to be under 2 hours (maniacs), I wanted to beat my previous time and hoped for around 2:15 and then Emily, Renee, Nicole and Theresa were wanting to finish and set a varying degree of times.  This was their first after all and the unknown also plays a part here.  The best part was that we were all together at the start and about to share an amazing experience together, even if it was only briefly.  The hooter went and then we were all gone into a sea of movement, legs pounding the pavement, costumes streaming past me and people jostling for the best position.  I am still confused as to why people have to squeeze through the smallest gaps for very little progress, but here I digress.

The first 7kms was a bit quicker than I had hoped but that is partly because my running buddy/training partner Greg (yes another one) and I were sucked into the pace of the group but also adrenaline had something to do with that.  I had specifically spoken to him about not being drawn into a pace that wasn’t for us (well it wasn’t for me really) and to run our own race.  At 7kms and moving along at 5:55min per km pace, I told Greg that he would have to take off and run his own race if he wanted to reach his goal.  Off he went trying to make up a couple of minutes, which I thought might be out of reach for him after running with me.  I conitinue on my not so merry way.  When I hit the 10km mark I was stoked to have noticed that I had just run my fastest official 10km time.  Now this was something I was very happy and proud of because of the hills that were covered in that first 10kms.  All of my runs have been on the flat, so to have achieved that was awesome.

Nice and early running with Greg feeling good

The second lap of the run was tough.  Not only did I have to cover those bloody hills again, I started to cramp up in both thighs at around the 14km point.  At this point it is not about training and having covered the kms, it comes down to stubbornness, determination and raw guts.  I would love to say that I possess all of these in abundance but sadly that is not true.  Well I do to some extent but I have to also admit there were a couple of times where I felt like I was about to stop.  I almost physically stopped running.  I have no idea why, because I don’t ever want to be someone that has walked in any of their races unless I was physically incapable.  There was something in me that just would not allow me to stop.  Yes it hurt, yes it sucked and I was hating every minute of it over the last few kilometres, but for some reason I just would not stop.  I couldn’t, it would have been an immense feeling of failure.  I know that is not true or the case, but that is what was running through my head and obviously the rest of me that kept me going.
Just after I reached the 20km point, one of my training buddies came running past me (Mighty Mouse as I call her and the reason I did Geelong Half in April) looking pretty comfortable.  I wanted to stick with her, but no chance of that. 

Finally Finished.....

As I ran to the finish line I saw her there and the smile she gave me was amazing.  She came over cheering and gave me the biggest hug and it was fantastic to share that with her.  She is someone we all look up to in our group.  She is trying to complete 5 half’s this year and 2 marathons and her support, encouragement and constant wealth of information keeps us all going.  I then saw my wife and kids standing over to the side waving (Julie called me to let me know where they were.) What did we do before mobile phones?  Now to weed my way through volunteers handing out water, Carb bars, MY MEDAL, and taking of time chips before meeting up with wife, kids, Greg and his family.  I sat down straight away and just had to get fluids into me and the weight off my feet.

Greg came up and when he told me he ran 2:04 I was so disappointed for him and angry with myself.  I told him all along not to run with me and he would have smashed his goal.  It wasn’t until later that I realised that this was his first half marathon.  He had just 2:04 and never been that distance before.  That is an amazing achievement.  As for my time, I was also disappointed with it.  I did beat my last time by a few minutes and ran 2:24:58 which was nothing flash as far as I am concerned.  On reflection that was a bit harsh.  I had beaten my last time.  This course was hillier than the last one by a long shot.  I battled mentally through 1/3 of the run and overcome cramps.  I was sick for the 2 weeks leading up to the run and only had 1 training run.  More importantly than all of that was the fact that I had just completed my second 21.1km run in 4 months.  This time last year I would not have even contemplated it, in fact I could not run 5kms so I need to put things into perspective.

I might not be the fittest, fastest and best runner out there, but who cares.  There are a lot of people out there slower than me.  Who cares?  Anyone willing to put themselves out there and try something this scary is a winner.  Finishing in 5622nd place isn’t first but so what, I am still the winner here.  I was never going to take home THE trophy, but this is a huge win for me, proving I can and will do anything I put my mind to.  Next challenge is my bike rides, but more importantly I am now going to have a crack at a marathon.  You heard it right the full monty in July 2014 at the Gold Coast.  Guess what?  No hills baby flat course……..

P.S……Well done to the lovely Western Warriors ladies & Greg Boock.
Theresa Lee
Emily Braithwaite
Renee Dennis
Nicole Puttyfoot
Kristine Willems

Melissa Wilkins (aka Mighty Mouse)


  1. Yep, I think you were a bit harsh on yourself too. My time was 2:24 too and I was REALLY happy with that. It was my 2nd half as well and I matched my time from the last year. I like your sentiments in not calling it a half marathon because like you say, there is NOTHING half hearted about it. I also read recently that when you run a marathon, when you get to 21kms that is NOT half of it either!! All the best with the bike rides and GC 2014!

  2. You're a winner alright! SO proud of you xx