It was a pretty out of the blue decision I made a few week after the GC marathon where I ran a fast 1 hour and 46 minute time, - that I thought of running the Brisbane half. - I really didn't want to push my body through trying to do another PB so I spontaneously thought it would be a good idea to run it with a pram as that would naturally slow me down. I was already pretty trained so it was just about keeping my k's up and worry about how I would get Leon to behave for 2 hours. 2 hours was the time I knew I could run it in if I pushed hard. So heres me hoping Leon will sleep for at least an hour and then maybe snacks?
It took me quite a while to get over the GC half. - my body was tired and every run felt like such hard work so I didn't really enjoy it the few weeks leading up to the race. And a weekend before the race my back started to give me some issues. - I felt it first on my usual 5k parkrun and when I went for a 10k the day after I was almost in tears with pain. I saw a chiro monday and wednesday (the race was 5 days away) On the monday the chiro said he might be able to fix me on the wednesday he said my muscles were to inflamed and I would be in a lot of pain if I went ahead with the race.
I was devastated. - and in a lot of pain. I was exhausted because back pain and a baby doesn't really make a great match. Everything I did was hurting me especially getting up at night to feed. And so I rested. I didn't do anything that week. - I only went to my physio to get a remedial massage on the Thursday which seemed to really loosen up some of the tightness in my back. So friday and saturday I rested some more. By Saturday the pain was still there but it wasn't radiating to my ribs which was the big issue as that made it painful to breathe which wasn't a good combo when running.
By saturday afternoon I thought that if I could run without being in pain when breathing maybe just maybe I could get away with it?
And so I packed my pram, - raced to woolies and bought dummies, snacks, yoghurt pouches. Cheese balls. I figured if everything else goes wrong feed the babe cheese balls!!
I was seriously looking forward to the course but I was also super nervous for how my body would hold up.
I got up at 4am on the sunday. The race was at 6am. - I got ready as quick as possible. - rubbed heat cream on my stiff back. And had my usual pre race coffee. I had everything ready to go. Pram in the car. All Leon's snacks. Socks, shoes, clothes. So I woke Leon, fed him, changed him. And number one mission of the day started; to keep him awake till the race started. I was chatting to him in the car, turning the light on every time he went too quite and kept the car cold so he wouldn't snooze away. I needed him to be tired for when the race started so he would go to sleep in the pram.
We arrived and I was starting to get worried. I always worry about races with pram as the crowds make it super hard to get through. For those who don't know this, - runners with prams are asked to start at the back of the running pack but to me it doesn't make any sense. - us fast pram runners have to weave in and out through so many people and that makes it more dangerous. For some reason pram runners are considerate slow hence for safety reasons put down at the back. - but these days pram runners are fast, - heck some even win races. So I think there should be special considerations and even pram divisions so we get the credit for our efforts on paper.
Anyway. - I quickly decided to start in the middle of the pack as I felt the atmosphere was right for it. - People were friendly and helpful and no one was having a go at me for rocking up with my pram. (my pram is quite long as its a running pram so sometimes people trip over my front wheel).
I said good luck to my beautiful friends who were all running different things that day (5k, 10k, half and full marathons.)
Photo below is my beautiful friend Elle (who ran an impressive 1 hour and 38 minute half that day) and me at the start line.
The gun went off and I squeezed myself into the crowd. - I started my garmin the second my front wheel passed the start line. The crowd spread out and I had heaps of room on the streets of central Brisbane. I felt a moment of 'YES-this is gonna be a good race' feels. It was dark and as always at the 1 and 2 k mark the crowds were silent. Thousands of people running together in silence. In silence because the nerves don't let you joke around or chat yet. You try to feel the legs warm up and you don't dare to smile in case you feel a niggle or you feel too exhausted too early. It's all a mind game and your mind is just getting warmed up.
Leon fell asleep during those first 2k's of silence. - I was stoked!
I had my Garmin set so I couldn't see how many K's I had done. - I didn't want my mind to play games with me so I rather not know when running such long distances. Otherwise you start looking at your watch counting your steps meter by meter. - I loved the feel of the run and the streets of Brisbane. Such an awesome course but quite challenging with a pram. - the first 5 k of the run had a few hills already and I started getting quite a few encouraging comments from my fellow runners. People often feel amazed when the see me as they think: "If I'm struggling, imagine how the lady pushing the pram must feel" So people have a beautiful form of expressing their respect for a pram runner like me.
There was plenty of room for me and my pram to run past heaps of people. Until a bit of a crowded spot at the story bridge. I had to shout to a few to keep left but gave up in the end and took the slow break as an opportunity to chat to some people. Who again were praising me for my efforts. A few of them told me they were going for sub 2 hours. As was I so we ran together for a few k's.
Kilometers 5 to 10 were fine. Leon was asleep and I just enjoyed the slower pace (slower than usual) with heaps of energy in my tank. The sun was up now and I enjoyed running along the riverside. A man with a disabled person pram ran past me. He had a bell on his pram and was ringing it for people to make way for him. - I have a huge respect for people like him. He is taking a person who can't run themselves for such a great experience. It must be bloody hard to push a grown person. Its's at least an extra 60 kg's!! He smiled at me and said "you need to get a bell like this" - as he ran away I quietly responded: "but that would wake my baby :-) "
At just over 10k's I saw my friend Elle on the loop going the other way. - she looked strong and I knew she must have been doing well as she was 4k's ahead of me.
The loop between 10 and 14k felt long. - you always look for the turnaround point and it messes a bit with your head. I caught up with a fellow runner I know who was doing the full marathon. He was struggling and as we kept running up more and more little hills I lost him behind me. - the small hills are tough even for a runner without a pram. And so I had to put a lot of effort into it every time I climbed one. Both hands on the pram and straight back pushing every thing I had.
See below photo of on of the steep hills (this one is just before the bloody finish line!! - I was exhausted!) You can see the incline in the back ground. Also who the heck places a photographer at the top of a hill???! Surely he didn't get many people smiling at that point?
A volunteer saw me at the 12K mark and shouted "You are doing amazing! You are number two pram in the race!" This gave me a boost. - I thought to myself I'm doing alright!
When I reached the 'go between bridge' at the 15k mark for another incline leon started stirring. - he had been awake for a few K's but was just chilling in the pram. I gave him his drink bottle and continued over the bridge.
This is where it started to get hard as he kept stirring and crying. I didn't want to stop as I knew the pain would kick in once you start and stop. It's a reaction from your muscles going: "hey this stoping thing felt good! - let's start hurting her so she will stop again".
And so I tried passing him a yoghurt pouch which he took and had to lean over and pop his dummy back in a few times. My back was really really starting to hurt and the leaning over wasn't helping. I had taken a few pain killers before the race started. So my back was starting to hurt through those. I also started feeling an annoying pain in my food. - it was a little fold in my sock that was starting to rub. Things like these are unpredictable and even if you try to put your shoes and socks on checking that theres nothing that might hurt you later on it's never certain it won't.
I kept eating my jelly beans. I had two every few k's I think just to keep my energy levels up.
From K 15,5 to 18 we ran on coronation drive and again there was another turn around point. - again this started messing with my head. We were in the hot sun at this point and people were struggling. I passed a few of my marathon friends. And kept trying to keep Leon happy.
I have to say this course was just fantastic.- I loved every k of it and the cheering that was all the way through out the course. People were amazing. Shouting "go mama" and other encouraging things. I still had lots of runners constantly showing their respect for me and patting my shoulder as I ran past or as they ran past me.
In these kind of races people feel strong and weak at different times so I might pass some people and then get passed by the same when I get tired and the other way around.
So at this point with leon being all whingy I tapped my Garmin to see where we were at. - 18K !! - We had done 18K. - and I started feeling ok. In a lot of pain but ok. Because there was 'only' 3 k's to go.
And so the last 3 k's is a bit of a blur to be honest. I was starting to feel the exhaustion taking over my body. - I was getting emotional. As the cheering crowds were just amazing. Shouting at me to keep going. It was also at this stage a guy ran up next to me. I could see the struggle in his face too. He said: "Do you realise how many of us you are an inspiration to?" I thanked him and had to look away because I had tears trying to make their way through. I was taken back by the kindness of so many runners that day.
I came around the corner of the botanical gardens and from the distance I heard my 3 best friends and a few others shout at me. They had spotted me and were screaming at me! COME ON PAULIE!! - I felt a tight ball of emotions gather in my chest and I had a hard time catching my breath. I knew I had done it and hearing them cheer made me loose it. Emotions just took over and I was in a world of pain.
I remember one of them screaming: You've done it! At this stage baby Leon was just chilling in the pram looking around and taking it all in. I passed my friends and thought to myself: "Where's that damn finish line???!" - then in front of me was the steepest of all hills. NO WAY!? Why now? Why here? When all my energy is gone!! And so I climbed the hill with everything I had left. I was moaning at this stage and I could see the crowd look rather taken back haha. They must have thought what the hell is this crazy lady doing.
I looked at my watch and I hadn't made it sub two hours. I felt a bit of disappointment but it was quickly wiped away by the fact that I had done it. A race that I wasn't going to run only the day before. I finished the race in 2 hours and 3 minutes.
I cant help but look back at a few parts of the race where I could have pushed it a bit harder or if I just hadn't been stuck on that bridge I could have saved a few minutes. But hey I think I need to just stop and be grateful for finishing the race, - for Leon being pretty good for most of it and for being able to walk now 3 days after.
I've recovered pretty well. - my back was very sore the first two days but today it's much better. I've caught a cold both my two little ones had as my body is just tired and weak to all the nasty germs going around. And I've been eating non stop. - SO hungry!
I'm not sure if I'll ever run a half marathon with pram again but I will run the Brisbane marathon again for sure! - It was an amazing course. And I think this has been one of my best races ever.
I wore a pair of Nike running shorts, a bonds tee and sports bra, nike compression socks and the new Lunar Glide 8 running shoes.
My pram is the Thule Glide running pram.
And I ran the Brisbane Half Marathon.
Thanks so much for reading along on my story. - I hope I have inspired you to try something out of the ordinary and if you have any questions please write a comment on my Instagram.