I did it! I ran my first half marathon just over a week ago. I was on such a high for days afterwards and I confess to a bit of a bumpy landing as I came back down to earth last week. However, after my first post-race run on Thursday I am feeling re-energised and am keenly entering more races to keep the momentum up. For anyone interested I have reproduced my race report, written for my online running group, below.
Race Report: Moonlight Half Marathon Cavallino – Jesolo
It was incredibly exciting to arrive in Venice by train to find my mother waiting for us on the platform. Stepping out of the station onto the Grand Canal was really something. We found our B&B, settled in and went for a lovely evening stroll as the sun was setting. I was last in Venice when I backpacked around Europe in 1995 and it was so exciting to be back again. Saturday morning arrived and I fought hard to keep my nerves under control. After breakfast we made our way to the station to catch the bus to Jesolo (about an hour away from Venice) where the race was to finish and where we would be staying the night after the race. We checked into our hotel which I was pleased to find was right around the corner from the finish of the race as I was hoping it would be. I collected my bib and booked myself onto the 18:00 bus, which was to take me to the start of the race. I was excited to see that my bib had an Australian flag on it. As ridiculous as it is to say felt like I was representing my country.
The town of Jesolo has a lovely relaxed, resort feel to it. It is right on the Adriatic coast with a stunning stretch of beach filled with beach umbrellas and chairs. You could just imagine it packed with people on holidays during the height of summer. We found a good restaurant in the main street right near the finish of the race. There was a lively atmosphere already. I had spaghetti pomodoro followed by salmon and spinach in preparation for the race. After lunch we went for a wander around the town and along the beach before I had a lie down. Around 5pm I got changed, ate a banana and headed over to the bus. I was feeling rather intimidated as I said goodbye to my husband and mother and got on the bus with a very fit looking group of mostly Italian runners. I was so struck by how many more men than women there seemed to be.
During the bus ride to the start I started to calm my nerves. There was no escape now. The bus ride to the start did seem like a very long way to have to run back though I must say. Once we got off the bus at the start area there was a tremendous buzz amongst all the runners and loud, upbeat music playing. The advantage of there being more men than women was that, for once, the queues to the female toilets weren’t too bad. A little way away from the action I discovered a low, wide stone wall right next to the lagoon. I copied what some others were doing and lay down on top off the wall. It was so peaceful looking up at the clouds, listening to the waves lapping in. I tried to deep breathe and visualise the race going smoothly and enjoyably. I had an hour and 15 minutes to kill and I think I lay there for about 30 minutes. I then had a few more toilet stops, did a bit of a warm up run and stretched for a few minutes. I got a bit of a stitch during the warm up run which was quite disconcerting but thankfully it soon disappeared. At 7:45pm it was time to start. I was allocated to the last (fourth) group and I lined up right at the back. As we crossed the starting line the music from the film ‘Chariots of Fire’ was booming out which almost made me tear up. I promptly told myself that if there was any crying to be done it was at the end of the race not at the beginning!
I was very conscious to start out easily and kept myself at a nice steady slow pace. The kms starting ticking over and I was feeling pretty good. I kept remembering everyone’s advice to enjoy it and I took in the scenery which was really pretty. We were running alongside the upper Venetian lagoon, which was very peaceful. The temperature was warm but with a cool breeze and birds were chirping. During the first few kms I could see the path stretching ahead for ages full of runners. It felt a bit intimidating to see so many people so far ahead but I tried to focus on myself and get myself into a steady rhythm. There was a girl in front of me in brown shorts and a black singlet top who seemed to be running strongly. I kept her in my sights but couldn’t quite get to her. At one point I did but when I checked my pace I found I was going too quickly so held back a bit. A km or two later I passed her and I noticed she was holding her side so I think she must have gotten a stitch. I really felt for her as stitches are so debilitating. I then kept noticing the same man right behind me for quite a long time. Every time I thought I had lost him there he was again either just behind my left shoulder or my right shoulder. He was wearing a bright orange top and he just kept right there with me. At first it was a little annoying but then I didn’t mind; he was quite good company. During the first 10km I noticed groups of Italians running together having a great chat and gesticulating wildly. I don’t know how they had the energy!
Around the 10km mark I felt relief knowing that I was almost halfway and was starting to get into a good rhythm. We had left the lagoon by this stage and it was getting dark which was quite exciting. All along the way there were groups of locals cheering us on and a band was playing around the halfway mark. Next thing I remember being at the 15km mark and I was still feeling pretty good. I knew by then I’d make it to the end. Around 18k it started to feel tantalisingly close. The final 3k stretch was along the main road leading into Jesolo. At some point I could see the finish lit up way away in the distance. It was literally the light at the end of the tunnel! I saw my mother and husband at around 20.5k at which point I sped up as much as I could to the finish. And then I’d done it! Even though I wasn’t too concerned about my time I was thrilled to see I had run it in 2 hours and 5 minutes.
I was absolutely thrilled to have both my husband and mother at the finish well as a friend of mine Sara, who is part of my online running group, and her husband Ale. Sara and Ale were both supposed to have been running but couldn’t due to illness and injury and yet they drove an hour from home on a Saturday evening to come and support me. I feel incredibly lucky to have had the support I did. It made the whole experience all the more enjoyable and rewarding. And of course without Julia and Shauna there’s no way I would have been there to begin with.