Monday, September 19, 2011

Go!! Sydney Running Festival 2011

Race day!!! My first fun run in 16 years!

I committed the cardinal sin of racing - wore a new top (lovely new lululemon ultra-light racer-back tank) and new lululemon running socks (sooo comfy!). Had my iPad all loaded up, drank lots of water the day before (it was forecast to be warm), had pasta for tea (ha ha - carbo loading!) and I was set.

It is always amazing to attend these big events. The public transport rises to the occasion, the organisers had done a fabulous job to deal with such huge numbers - 16,500 people in my 9km Bridge Run alone! 3700 odd marathoners, 8500 half-marathoners and 6000 family fun runners/walker (4km). And yet it didn't feel crowded.
Just some of the crowd gathered in
 Bradfield Park under the Harbour Bridge
Sydney put on a stunning, if unseasonably warm, day for the event. By the time my race started at 9am it was mid 20's (celcius!). The marathoners had started 1.5 hours earlier at 7:25am (got to see the start!), but many were still going long after I'd finished!

The end goal...
The day before, I had picked up my bib, but they couldn't find my bib number! So they printed out a new bib and put me in the "A" seedings! Well, I felt like a complete fraud. I'm NOT a fast runner, more a jogger at the best of times, but the saving grace was it wasn't so crowded up the front and you couldn't see bib numbers as you ran! 

I had Runkeeper all set and ready to record my big run, but as started I mis-pressed buttons and it wasn't going. I didn't bother with it, as I had my music all pumping. And finally, we were away!

Running across the Harbour Bridge was pretty amazing! I was wishing I could stop, take photos and just soak it up. So many people! So many people running fast!! But by halfway across the Bridge, there were plenty of walkers. I can proudly say I kept on running! And kept running all the way along the Cahill Expressway and up Macquarie St (which was uphill all the way and it was getting very hot by then!). I gratefully soaked up water at the first water station (some of which was poured over me!). 

I knew the hardest bit would be the Botanic Gardens and it was. I succumbed to some walking stretches - particularly on the uphill bits. I was VERY grateful for any bits of shade I could find! It was still quite crowded and many people stopping, starting, and a few near collisions. There were also many people succumbed to the heat, being attended to by first aid officers - I seriously didn't want to be one of those! Later that night on the news, I heard one 31 year old guy went into cardiac arrest - they revived him and he is recovering in hospital.

The best part of the run was the return down Macquarie St to the Opera House. Downhill all the way, able to get some speed up and it was so nice to aim to the big blue arch...

After the event - it was much more crowded
when I ran through there!

...except that wasn't the finish line! I still had a few hundred metres to run! I could see the time up ahead - 1 hour, 12 minutes - I really wanted to finish under 1:15. What an amazing feeling to have all those people cheering, the Sydney Opera House looming and "Holding Out for A Hero" playing in my ears! Bonnie Tyler really did help :-)

Just as I finished, the loudspeaker announced the first female finisher of the marathon on the course next to us! What an amazing moment to see that achievement.

I had hot swollen feet (no blisters!), hot swollen hands, sweat dripping off me, my usual beetroot face, but I finished - I didn't leave much in the tank. My timing chip said 1 hour, 10 minutes, 31 seconds! 7:50 min/km pace (even with walk breaks). I'm happy with that. The website says I came 11,007th! I won't be happy with that next year, but considering I could barely run 1 minute four months ago, it is a good achievement. I also raised $370 for children's cancer research in the process.

Unbelievably, I saw a friend from home after the race (there were soooo many people). She had to pull out of the half marathon due to injury and ran the 9km race instead. She had done it at least 5 years previously, and said it was the hardest one she had ever done and there were sections she had never walked before but walked this year. Made me feel much better!

I hung around to get the free Powerade etc and then watched the marathoners come home. Saw the sub-4 hour finishers and I am totally in awe of anyone's ability to run 42km, let alone in those conditions!

All in all, it was hard work, but a fabulous day and I'll be back next year. And I think I'm gonna have sore legs in the next day or two...


  1. Congratulations! What an achievement...both the running and the fundraising. Thanks for the pictures. You look great!

    Did the family tag along?

  2. Hi Jane - no, I left the family at home. Stayed at my brother's place (he was in New Zealand), shopped and ran. Maybe next year they'll all be running with me!