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  • Race Report: Gold Coast Half Marathon
July 4, 2023
Gold Coast Marathon

While it didn’t go to plan, it still went pretty bloody well!

Gold Coast Half Marathon

To start with, getting there was a bit of a shit show. We woke to the news that our flight had been cancelled but as is standard with the airlines these days, the onus was entirely on US to sort out the problem. To be fair it turns out there were severe winds and a shortage of staff in the control tower BUT that left us without any means of getting to the Gold Coast and no sympathy at all from the airline. Just the call centre equivalent of a shrug and a middle finger before the call ‘accidentally’ dropped out.

So we had little choice but to accept the refund and pay DOUBLE what we had budgeted for a flight to Brisbane (for those not in Oz, Brisbane is about an hour’s drive from the Gold Coast. Something the person in the Qantas/Jetstar so-called-help-desk wasn’t actually aware of.) So we had rectified the problem, or so we thought. Because when we got to the airport we were notified about the first of about three significant flight delays. When we did eventually board the flight, it was about five hours after our scheduled departure.

All of this meant we had no way of getting to the expo, or of collecting our bibs. But thankfully a friend and fellow Slowly was already there and was able to pick this up on our behalf. We also weren’t able to have a sedate-night-before dinner but had to make do with airport food. We landed in Brisbane at around 10.30pm. My eldest son lives nearby, and was thankfully able to pick us up. We had to retrieve our bags, and navigate the unfamiliar roads to drive to the Gold Coast during which we almost ran out of fuel. My patience was running super thin by this stage! So we eventually got to the accommodation after 11 but it took us ages to figure out which gate/tower/parking/access code/door to use to get in to our booked apartment. So by the time we finished all the fussing and bickering, done the flat lays and had a shower it was midnight. We set our alarms for 4am and dived into bed.

Thankfully I never sleep well on a race night and so I didn’t expect this one to be any different. With not-quite-four hours’ in the bank we got dressed and headed to the start line. I think I underestimated how much ‘bandwidth’ is consumed when you don’t know a place and have to figure out roads, access points, drop bags and start lines. And Gold Coast has crowds on steroids! I have never seen a starting line like it. It took ages to get into the starting village because the traffic control people (imho) took their job a bit too seriously and the crowds were backed up literally for blocks. We had to snake our way through thousands of people and figure out where to get drinks, where to drop bags and more. Then we played a very stressful ‘will-we-make-it’ game of tag with the Slowlies who had offered to bring us our bibs but who were also trapped in the glutinous crowded morass. Anyway, alls well that ends well and as the sun gilded the magnificent beaches and cast the most amazing starting line hues I’ve ever seen, the gun went off and we took to the streets.

The GCHM course is FLAT. Which was an incredible blessing and something my legs relished as the race took off. It allowed me to leave a bit more juice in the tank and try to soak in some of the race atmosphere and the views. But jeepers the crowds were next level. There were no starting groups, just a kind of fend-for-yourself-surge and it took 11 minutes to cross the start line. I didn’t mind too much, as I kind of like being at the back but I could hear a lot of muttering from other runners around me.  Once we were underway it kind of reminded me of Sydney’s City to Surf which is more akin to a party than a race. I felt like it was hard to get into a rhythm as there was always someone just in front who had to be navigated, waited for, run around, tapped on the shoulder or bumped in to. There was almost never any clear running space and after a while it started to wear me down. The views were spectacular, yes, the sunrise was amazing and the party vibe was ON but my lack of sleep, my irritation levels, the loss of my comfort zone and my general anxiety meant I didn’t really relax at any stage and I couldn’t look around and absorb the day as much as I would have liked.

Still, it wasn’t that bad. I had set up my watch to ‘pace’ me knowing full well that I wanted to try and run sub-2.15 and set a new PB. (My previous PB of 2.17 was set about five years ago when I was around 5kg lighter). The watch face was awesome and the pace appeared really large in the display but I had forgotten to set up the distance so I never knew how far I had run or how far I still had to go! Thank god for the signs on the side of the road. I had to maintain a pace of about 6.19 ish to comfortably hit my goal. I didn’t manage this in the first km because of the crowds but after that it thinned out marginally and most of the time I could maintain or improve on the goal pace.

I’ve been working with a coach all year and done the work. But I was still surprised at how good I felt, given the day before and my usual lack of confidence. Like, not totally brilliant watch-me-Eliud good but gee-this-is-better-than-expected good. I managed a few smiles and a few high fives with the amazing race supporters. Because, damn, some of those signs were funny! (If this race was easy it would be your mum – You’re not sweating you’re leaking awesome – Pain is just French for bread…)

At about 15km my hip started to hurt which was weird, because it has never hurt before, but I decided to exercise all my coaching knowledge and common sense and technical know-how and you know, just ignore it  (Clients, if you are reading this please do as I say and not as I do.) Luckily I was able to hold out and even increase the pace a fraction and coast across the finish line. I still didn’t know my time because of the weird display on it’s face until I hit ‘save’ and got the full race report. 2h12! A new PB by five minutes. As is my habit, I kind of unfurled into a fit of ugly crying giving the first aiders a bit of a scare. I don’t know why I do that. I mean, I’m not sad, and I’m not even particularly happy if I’m truly honest. I’m just … relieved? And proud? And overwhelmed? Who knows. Anyway, I sniffed and hiccoughed my way through the race village, picked up my medal and t shirt and went to find my husband who had trained way less than me but was nevertheless way faster and already lounging on the grass and watching the winners’ awards ceremony and soaking up his own amazing PB too. (Kudos my love. You’re annoying and amazing.) I kind of just snivelled for a while and rested on his shoulder before wobbling our way back up the road in search of our kids, some breakfast and a well-earned nap.

It was a memory for the treasure box. Magnificent skies, amazing vibe, fantastic event and a great personal accomplishment. But the truth is I wouldn’t be in a hurry to repeat it. Maybe I’m jaded by the shemozzle of getting there but it was a tad too ‘busy’ and overwhelming for my introverted tastes and the huge level of logistics made it feel more like work than fun. But I’m so glad we did it. Not just because it was an amazing race but because it was an amazing weekend. A reunion with all our children with us, a catch up with some special friends, gorgeous views and people and memories and food. All that glitters is definitely Gold!

Half Marathon PB