‘Road Runner’ Tarli Bird: the Conquest of the 2014 Gold Coast Marathon

My first time competing in a Marathon is definitely a weekend that is forever going to bring a massive smile to my face. Those close to me know that I do try and do too much and have to mention that I did attempt to race the Canberra Marathon in 2012. It seemed a good idea at the time in December 2011 as I relocated living over three houses around Victoria up to Moama whilst working in vacation care all summer holidays, then straight into starting my first full time permanent teaching position, whilst finishing off my masters….yes fair to say I spend the last week of tapering in bed and travelled to Canberra to run 15km before walking back to the start. At the start of 2014 over coffee with my coaches Lesley and TV I marked the Gold Coast Marathon into my diary as an opportunity to experience the distance without any pressure on times and splits. My training for the marathon didn’t alter from my normal training that has been consistent now for over a year averaging 130km a week. I did add in two 30km long runs in the last five weeks, which was slightly longer than my usual long run of 25km. Whilst training for the Gold Coast marathon I worked with a sports dietitan on developing a nutrition plan for the marathon and practiced this in the final weeks of training. I put my head down and really focused on the quality of my training in the final five weeks and I felt like I was living the life of a hermit. Getting up at 4.30am to train so that I was at school by 7.30am to chip away at my 7-10 exam marking and 240 student report writing, teaching, training and then hitting the pillow just after prime possum o’clock was on repeat. I love the word taper and loved the week it came into action.

I was lucky to have been given a seeded start in the marathon and had my accommodation organised by the event, staying at the same hotel as the international elite marathon runners. On the Friday before the marathon I enjoyed the opportunity of attending the media press conference and sitting in awe watching 11 male sub 2.10 marathon runners and 8 female sub 2.30 runners standing at the front of the room. I was also lucky that Lesley discovered how to use facebook properly whilst at the Gold Coast. The Saturday before the marathon I was able to relax the hotel whilst feeling social. By the afternoon I had felt exhausted enough watching her live news feed that I was able to have an afternoon naps in-between meals.

Tarli & Lesley

Pre-race on Sunday I was just excited to get out there. As mentioned earlier I didn’t really have a plan, just to live the moment of the race. I knew after 30km I was running in the unknown so started out conservatively knowing it was easy to make up time later on. Jane Fardell and New Zealander Alex Williams were the only two Oceanic/Australian athletes ahead of me from the start and I figured I’d worry about chasing them down once I’d settled into the race. I passed Alex at around 15km and considering I couldn’t see  Jane ahead at the 5km pointer I assumed she was well ahead still. At 28km I saw Lesley for the first time and was surprised to hear her say Jane wasn’t far in front. Once turning a corner I saw her ahead and knew if I kept the pace I was on I would pass her.

Tarli on the podium

To be honest I loved the marathon distance. It was such a great atmosphere running past people I knew from Melbourne, Shepparton, Echuca and my family from Donald cheering. I felt like I ran with a smile on my face until 35km that then switched quickly into a grimace until the end. I was very naive with how I would feel after crossing the finish line. My bag I had taken to the event included bathers and towel ready to hit the beach after catching up with the other hunters for lunch. Fair to say that didn’t happen.My performance was only one of many fantastic performances by Hunters over the weekend and I’m definitely keen on travelling back up there next year to race in one of the events.