I did a half marathon. At times I didn’t want to and didn’t think I could. I’m not sure what happened because my last training run was so good. But I had a lot of emotions, my stomach churned from the day before and every step seemed like a torment.
Thank goodness for my great support team. My family were waiting for me at the river. Anthony from Yass Runners yelled at me when I started to walk – ‘Run Tanya’ – across the river at me. My brother came around and walked the last half kilometre with me. My daughter ran in front of me at the end and said ‘race you Mumma’. My parents yelled ‘Go Tanya’ from the river. My partner had signs and was waiting at the finish line – literally the line.
I took 3:29:54 to do 21.33kms. I know. That last extra 200 metres nearly killed me. I could barely walk, barely stand.
I fought so many demons. I told myself to keep going so many times when I wanted to stop. I pushed down the emotions, stopped myself from falling apart a number of times. I told myself I could cry when I got to the finish line. But there were no tears left when I could finally let go.
I don’t know why they came in that run. The feelings. I had a great training run before and it was only 3.5kms more I needed to run. I felt sick the whole time but I still forced my gels down for energy.
The sweeper on the bike was a teenage boy called Angus. He had to tail me from about 6kms on. I was the last at every aid station. Did that affect me? The noise of his bike tyres in the gravel behind me? He was a nice kid. We didn’t talk much. Right near the end he started to say, ‘you’re nearly there’.
Someone has to be last, right?
I was last from nearly the start. I run slowly. I run more slowly with better technique than when I was running with worse technique. I don’t know why, but now I can’t go back. So now I’m even slower than I was before. But better technique, eh?
I took a photo of a pelican on the river at the bridge.
I figured I was last anyway, slowing slightly would not make any difference.
Lucerne Vale Road was where it really hit me. Not on the way out as there were a lot of people coming in the opposite direction. I cheered them on and got plenty of smiles in return. I was largely walking up the hill. ‘You’re nearly there’ they said but it didn’t take long to work out that wasn’t true. I’d run the course, I knew how long it was.
So my new friend Angus, his bike tyres and the occasional buzzing of the walkie talkie were my companions. And my thoughts of giving up and my other thoughts that said keep going. Keep going for Dad who is having tests for cancer. Keep going for Todd who can’t run. Keep going because Sarah has been through operations and chemo and radiation and she didn’t give up. She kept going. So you keep going, I told myself.
It was almost a joke when I got to O’Brien Street. The volunteers were standing around. I said to one guy, ‘I’m the last one, you can go home now’. He drove off a few minutes later. Running downhill was no easier than walking up. The cones and I were alone – except for Angus who told me which side to run on.
I decided to put my bib back up when I hit the bottom of Grampian Street. Elite had told me to take it off half way up Hardwick Lane because the road was now open. I don’t think that helped me. Last. Somebody has to be last.
Grampian, the cones on Grampian and the 5km runners. There was a lovely couple who overtook me walking. I was walking. Whimpering a bit by this time, up this stupidly ridiculously steep hill.
But I kept going up. My legs were really unhappy. But I kept going up. And eventually I made it to the final aid station. The aid stations were fantastic. Cool, ice cool water. And Dawn was at this last one and she said ‘Are you Ok, do you want some water?’ And the guy collecting the cups in a plastic bag said ‘good one’ as I went past, and I don’t know if that was because I got both cups in or missed both – I never looked back to check.
Angus was on the walkie talkie and telling them that I was about to come down to the river. I heard them say ‘the last half marathoner is about a kay away’.
I felt like I was barely moving forward. I yelled out to Skye ‘take my photo Skye’ and smiled and did a thumbs up as I went past. She took three of me and the full body one shows my feet barely crossing…the couple who passed me on Grampian’s death hill are behind me, and they have more movement in that photo than me. And Angus on the bike of course.
I could hear the crowds and see them now. It was another few hundred metres along the river before I started walking again. I was so close but I felt like there was nothing left. Nothing left and then Anthony yelled ‘run Tanya!’ from across the river. So I started to run again and then I could see them. My partner Marijke and my daughter Gabrielle. They yelled and they waved signs that said ‘go hunny, happy birthday!’ And then I saw my niece and nephew cheering as well. Just before I went behind some trees I saw my parents. I could hear my Mum yelling ‘Go Tanya!’
I saw my brother on the path ahead of me. He said ‘Are you OK?’ And I said ‘No’. He walked beside me as I shuffled on. As we came around and lined up to the finishing line he said he would match any pace that I wanted. Someone said there was only 300 metres to go. 300!!!
But I couldn’t go any faster. Gabby appeared in front of me and ran for a bit. Then I hit that red carpet and the black line. Just keep going to the black line. And I did.
And then I stopped and I was finished and I’d done a half marathon.
People said well done and my parents gave me hugs and told me they were so proud of me. Marijke gave me juice and sat me down and took my stuff. She’d arranged a massage from the Yass Wellness Centre people in the tent beside the Yass Runners. They probably knew each other pretty well after 3.5 hours together!
I was shattered, could barely move, barely speak. I had trained for this but it didn’t feel like it. I don’t know what happened.
I felt better after the massage. I changed my shirt and put my medal on. Suddenly I was someone who’d done a half marathon. The sun was out, it was a beautiful day. People were happy and smiling and so was I. The run was done. The event was a success.
The sun was shining and I’d made it through 21.33kms. I hadn’t stopped. I hadn’t given up.