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I could feel the anticipation in Canada’s crisp morning air as colourful runners started pouring onto the streets. Dressed in gloves, ear warmers and double jackets, four Canadians, an American and I shuffled out of the change rooms to begin our warm up. We navigated through road blocks and contained our nerves with light-hearted chatter. An “Adelaide Street” sign caught my eye near the finish line and made me feel a little closer to home. Before long thousands of eager bodies were packed into the starting area, flirting with collisions during frenzied final strides. After months of devoted preparation and days of consuming energy-dense fuel it is always a relief to greet race day feeling healthy and ready to fire. I carefully placed a backup gel down my crop top and spotted my partner Dylan behind the fence. He had been fine-tuning his spectator route to provide words of encouragement where I was likely to need them most. I felt very grateful for his wholehearted support (and my coach Adam Didyk’s from afar) during the preparation for this race. Bright green sleeves and Australian flags belonging to my Canadian relatives emerged above the heads of spectators near the start line. After exchanging a few excited waves, I toed the line for my twelfth Marathon. 3, 2, 1…. BANG!

A line of men took off like rockets. I moved with the excitement and flow of the pack but my wiser instincts told me to run within myself. I found a pace that felt fast but sustainable. One mile in I spotted Shaun Creighton wearing his Australian singlet from the 1992 Manchester Commonwealth Games. I felt a sense of comfort as we exchanged “hellos” and any remaining nervous tension eased. The lead girls weren’t far ahead and I wondered what pace we were on. I flashed a look at my Garmin to check the 2km split time against my perceived rate of exertion. It wasn’t quite what I had expected and consequently ended up being the last time I looked at my watch. I generally prefer to base my effort on feel rather than figures, as it helps me to maintain composure and efficiency.