My First Marathon

Published: July 8, 2014
By: Faye Hollands

I actually did it. Two days ago on the sunny Queensland Gold Coast I took part in my first ever marathon and made it over the finish line!  It’s one of the biggest things I’ve ever done; by far the most challenging on many levels and it took an incredible amount of effort, commitment and support from a whole host of different people, not just me.  So here’s the lowdown on how I got there, what it was actually like, and the team around me that made it all possible…


On the flight up to the Gold Coast my husband Will gave me a chocolate bar called ‘Epic’ which was very fitting!  The event certainly was mammoth in every way, from the 6 month lead-up, to the day itself, and the wonderful sense of achievement at the end!

Quick Snapshot

After 6 months of training I ran 42.195km’s in 4 hours 40 minutes at the 36th Gold Coast Airport Marathon event.  In the process I raised $2,198.65 for Black Dog Institute thanks to 47 incredibly generous people (more on those below).

A staggering 4,924 people completed the marathon, with the winner – Silah Limo – clocking an amazing time of 2 hours and 9 minutes, and $35,000 in prize money.  I reckon he deserved every single cent of that – truly mind-blowing!

Amazing People

First and foremost I really want to say some very important thank you’s.  The support I received on my marathon adventure was nothing short of amazing.  Despite it being MY goal, and MY journey, there are a big long list of people who demonstrated complete and utter generosity, selflessness and unwavering support for me: –

  • Fundraising Supporters:  Every single day I hammered home my fundraising mission on Facebook, and was continually blown away by how many people donated hard-earned cash to my chosen cause, Black Dog Institute.  Virtual strangers gave so generously, social media buddies that I’ve never met donated anonymously, and my close-knit network of friends and family dug deep when I know it wasn’t easy.  I can’t describe the feeling accurately enough, but seeing your donations come in and having your support was overwhelming, and without a doubt kept me putting one foot in front of the other on the big day when times got tough!  I will never forget your generosity, and feel incredibly proud to be surrounded by such a big-hearted, altruistic group of people.  You should be very proud of yourselves.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
  • Amanda Bradley:  Amanda is one of my closest friends and we ran the marathon together.  Mate, you are a legend and made of tough-stuff!  I can’t think of anyone I would rather have done this with, and am incredibly grateful for your support, both on the day and through all the months of training we did.  You kept me going when my knee didn’t want to; your nods and thumbs up were just what I needed to keep plodding along; and your chatter has always made every KM easier!  Well done on a massive achievement and wear that medal with pride (all the time!) as you wholeheartedly deserve it!
  • Sally-Anne Carey:  Sal is a good friend of mine, and a phenomenal cheerleader!  She’s been the ever-present motivator throughout this journey, even when her own marathon quest ended due to injury, and played a big part on marathon day.  From your pom-pom shaking to incredible thoughtfulness, you made this experience even more memorable in lots of different ways.  The run was epic, but the celebrations after and the fun that ensued also made my weekend, and will be etched in my memory for evermore.  Thank you, you’re truly fabulous!
  • My Family:  Running a marathon is a massive commitment not just in effort, but also time.  My husband Will did everything he could to make it easy for me to follow my training plan, despite us having busy jobs and two very small children.  Without his support none of this would have been possible and that means so very much to me.  My Mum & Dad also played a huge part on race day, looking after our kids so that the weekend was as effortless as possible – just what I needed with that many KM’s ahead of me!  I love you all and am beyond grateful.
  • Karen Reimann:  Karen and I have worked together over the years, and I’ve been constantly inspired by her athleticism and determination … hell, the girl did 4 Ironman’s in one year!  Not only has she given me oodles of advice and answered a million questions about marathons and running, but she also gave me the book ‘Run Like Crazy‘ by Tristan Miller which perfectly complimented my training plan.   And then, on the night before the marathon, she sent me a message introducing me to Tristan (who ran 52 marathons in 52 weeks!) who was also running the Gold Coast Marathon.  That was the icing on the cake – I went to bed feeling super-excited and ready to take on the next day in such a positive head space.  Karen – you never fail to inspire and motivate me, and I’m incredibly grateful to call you a friend.  Thank you!
  • David Chamberlain:  Dave is an old work buddy who runs DC Run, and was the person that told me to get a steroid injection in my knee when I couldn’t run a week before the marathon.  Without Dave’s advice I simply wouldn’t have been able to walk to the starting line, let alone run across the finish!  Thank you SO much for watching on Facebook and giving me such spot-on and timely advice, it really was invaluable.
  • Running Mums Australia:  This is an awesome group of positive, encouraging and inspiring Mum’s on Facebook who all love running.  They’ve been a constant source of information and motivation for me over the last few months and I love the way they’re all so inclusive and non-judgmental.  If you’re a running Mum and would like to join us click here.


The Actual Race

How did it really go?  Let me tell you ….

After getting hit with flu and bronchitis 3 weeks out, and then ITBS issues which meant I couldn’t walk the week before, I was nervous.  I trained for 6 months, and hardly missed any planned runs,  but the last month really felt like it derailed all my hard work .  Also, because of my knee, I wasn’t allowed to run for the week before the marathon so I had no idea on race day whether I could even comfortably jog a few steps, let alone embark on the mammoth task ahead of me!  Thankfully though the steroid injections worked a treat and I comfortably settled into the run when the gun went off.

The atmosphere was amazing, and the support along the entire course was so uplifting and exhilarating.  Complete strangers call out your bib name to help keep you going, and I felt like I was part of one enormous team, all egging each other on.

Chatting to other runners, cheering on the super-speedy as they lapped us hours ahead, and giving words of encouragement towards the end when we were all out of steam, played an important part in the amazing experience of running a marathon. As they say, it’s not the destination but the journey that counts and that was absolutely true on Sunday.

Without a doubt the most inspiring sight I saw was Team Gemm – Gemma is 19 years old with Cerebral Palsy, Epilepsy and Spastic Quadriplegia, and is 100% reliant on assistance for her daily life.  She’s a sports lover, and her amazing Dad completed the marathon – faster than us – pushing Gemma the entire way.  We were running at the same pace for a while, and were in awe of you and your beautiful daughter.  You are truly amazing and should be exceptionally proud of yourself.

Running wise, my ITBS issues reared their ugly head at 7km, and by 10km I needed some strong painkillers.  Mentally that was tough as it was hard to comprehend how I was going to run another 32km when I was already in a lot of pain.  But Amanda and the crowd did an awesome job of distracting me, and at 17kms I pumped up the tunes too which helped lift me into a different head space.

We kept our pace steady for most of the run – 6:00 min/km which is slower than normal but felt good – and we were following the 4:30 pacer for quite a while which was great for motivation as that was our goal time.

By the 20km mark we were focusing on our music and the beautiful scenery to stay distracted, but the pain kicked in for both of us again at 26kms.  Thankfully some pain killers and our amazing cheerleaders got us over that hump quickly.   I can’t tell you how happy I was to see my husband and our fabulous friends screaming and cheering us on – you did an awesome job!

When asked about the infamous ‘wall’ I’m pleased to say I didn’t hit it.   I’d mentally got into the head space that once I reached 30kms it was all going to be OK – and it was.  Don’t get me wrong, it was far from easy or comfortable – the minute I slowed down at the water stations my knee gave me a sharp injection of pain that had me scrunching my eyes up and grimacing, and I kept reminding myself that I’ve endured childbirth twice so I can bloody-well handle the pain of a marathon!

By 37kms my iPhone died, which meant I had no music for the most grueling part.   This could have mentally spun me out as I rarely run without music, but I just kept focusing on ‘one foot in front of the other’ and reminding myself how amazing crossing that finish line was going to be.

The last 2km’s seemed to go on forever, but as soon as the finish chute was in our sights I couldn’t stop smiling.  It was the most amazing feeling to hear everyone cheering us on, to see our supporters so excited for us, and to cross that line safe in the knowledge that we actually did it – we’d run our first marathon!  The relief and sense of achievement was totally overwhelming, and yes, the flood gates opened!

I still feel incredibly emotional about the whole experience and can see how people get hooked on running marathons.  The sense of achievement is immense and knowing that you’re able to commit and follow-through on something that’s so demanding gives you a greater sense of self-worth and confidence .  I don’t know whether I’ll do another – at the moment I’m proud to have ticked it off my bucket list – but I had the most amazing time and even the setbacks play an important part in my memories now.

What Did I Learn

In short, a lot … so here are some key takeaways: –

  • When I’ve got a plan I can achieve anything … write it down, plan it out, and then ‘just’ follow it
  • If you want something enough you CAN find the time regardless of what else is going on in your life – no excuses
  • You are WAY tougher than you think you are – build mental fitness and block out the pain, your mind is an incredibly powerful tool
  • Surround yourself with positive people – they will lift you and keep you going, even if you start doubting yourself
  • Expect bumps – don’t get put off by challenges, they’re inevitable, just work around them and stay positive
  • Runs rarely go to plan – the blips make the sense of achievement even greater when you finish so stick with it!

What’s Next

I’m going to have a well-deserved rest this week, but I have to admit my mind is already racing about what my next big goal is going to be.  Running-wise I really want to improve my 5km and 10km speed, and get into trail running so I’m signing up for the Woronora Dam 20km trail run in August.  I also want to do many more Parkrun’s and get my kids out with me so that they can enjoy the camaraderie that running brings.  If you’d like to follow my running escapades join me over on my Run Busy Working Mumma Facebook page for updates and snippets on all things running-related!

Now it’s time for an epsom salts bath and an early night …. I’m aching!

Faye Hollands

About Faye Hollands

Faye is an accomplished Career Coach, Small Business Coach and Productivity Specialist who has successfully coached countless clients on how to create a career they love, get more done in less time, and achieve personal and professional success. To receive weekly articles to improve your career, business and time management skills click here or book your Free Focus Session here.

You can contact Faye on +61 2 8323 4335 or email

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8 Responses to My First Marathon

  1. Sal


  2. Vic Davies

    Faye, feeling very inspired by your efforts – well done! x

  3. Karen Moloney

    I think this is the ultimate test of everything that you coach on and all the things we have talked about and that you have written about over the last seven years. It’s clarity of goals, persistence, positive thinking and surrounding yourself with the right people. You are an inspiration Faye and I’m so pleased that you achieved your big fat hairy goal. Looking forward to following your next adventure! Well done you amazing woman 🙂 xx

  4. Abby Falla

    Faye what you just achieved is the epitome of you, truly amazing and inspirational. Xox

  5. What a beautiful account! You grabbed me at “greater sense of self-worth and confidence”. Thank you for sharing your marathon experience.


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