By Jessica Windle

I ran a Marathon and it was amazing.

At the start of this year when I wrote down my goals for the next 12 months, I included a little bulletpoint that read:

+ Run the GC Marathon

It was pretty easy to write down... it sat neatly between bulletpoints like 'publish poetry book' and 'launch apparel line'.... nothing crazy.

I know we are supposed to seek out our goals and pursue them, but I think this particular goal chose me. I was so pulled to it, despite already having plenty on my plate, and I'm so thankful I listened to my gut on this one. With the heavy heartedness of my work and the emotional toll it sometimes takes on my heart and mental health, the running was a welcome release and the thought of crossing that finish line became far beyond just a fitness goal.

I'm brought heartbreaking stories of loss and grief, daily... it is a constant awakening, but it is heavy. It sends my already overflowing cup of gratitude for this life into overdrive. My whole message of 'love life.' is in honour of those souls taken too soon and their loved ones left behind who are left with an emptiness I know too well. I've been there. But that is another monologue for another day. Just know that this was so much more than a 42km run for this Mama... the purpose runs deep.

I'm by no means a pro that will be dishing out expert advice on running. But having freshly completed the mammoth task and a fair few of my followers asking me to share my experience in getting from A to B as a beginner, I thought I would share this blog post with any insight I can give, in hopes it can inspire and give those who are tempted by the thrill of it all a little nudge to say 'just do it'.

The Gold Coast Bulletin were kind enough to feature my journey....


The Training Process.

Let's be clear...I'm not a runner naturally, I much prefer my hard and fast HIIT sessions or a high energy dance class. I did run the GC Half Marathon back in 2013 and I remember once finishing on the day seeing the Full Marathon participants running along and thinking "How??" but also, "...maybe one day." 

With Jayce at the end of the Half Marathon in 2013

Turns out that 2019 was that 'one day'. My training started just after Christmas 2018, about 7 months out from race day. I wanted to keep up my routine of going to F45 each morning at 4:45am so I continued with my usual 6 days a week, but twice a week, I added a 6km run at the end of my F45 session. I wasn't too fussed with time or technique at this point. I just needed to build up my comfort with feeling ground underfoot, step by step.

So yes, I did have a fair base of fitness when I started training for the marathon - but let's not forget that 3 years ago I was 20kg heavier and would be puffed walking up a short set of stairs... so if you are feeling like you are so unfit a marathon is never going to happen... I am proof that anything is possible... you just need to dig deep and take it step by step.

A couple of weeks into my initial training, I was very lucky (or maybe it wasn't luck, maybe it was the universe doing it's thang) and ran into a friend at the local markets who is a CHAMPION marathon runner (Zoe if you are reading this - you are amazing!). I asked her what I needed to be doing and she gave me this advice:

+ Run two short runs (10km a piece) a week during the weekdays.

+ Then on the weekend, ramp it up with a longer run incrementing in length over time.

+ You want that longer weekend run to be at the 30km mark approx. 3 weeks out from the race.

And that is exactly what I did. Incrementing up that way week by week makes the impossible, possible.

Now that I was running longer distances, I decided to replace 3 of my F45 sessions a week with my running training. It was actually really refreshing to shakeup my training and shock the system a little.


I documented my training on my Instagram where and when I could to help keep me accountable.

As I trained before the sun rose, I drove to a well lit part of town (the Burleigh Esplanade for my GC locals) where other people would also be running so I felt nice and safe. I'd use my Apple Watch to monitor and track my times and listen to my favourite music. Before I knew it, I actually started really enjoying the process! I'd run back and forth that Burleigh path banking up the kilometres and gaining confidence. Being out in nature and fresh air, rewarded by a beautiful sunrise over the ocean was the perfect start to my day. I would get home as the rest of the family were getting up and go about my day knowing that I was one step closer to my goal.


I looked up running tips on YouTube and it taught me things like being aware of cadence, posture and focussing on breathing while running. I definitely recommend you do your research, take tips from the pros offering their advice online on blogs and vlogs where you can because all these little pointers make a difference in your training and definitely allows you to improve your time.

Whilst I wasn't planning on having a running partner on the day, I had a few friends and family also training for the weekend of events and checking in with them from time to time and how they were going with their training (even if it was a quick comment on their Insta Story or text) was also great encouragement and reminded me that I wasn't alone. 

I'm not going to lie, the longer weekend runs started getting tough. Not only as it got colder and darker heading into winter but when you set out on a Sunday morning knowing that you are about to dedicate 3 hours to running 24km+ it starts taking a toll on family time and your energy for the busy week to come - it's tough. Mum guilt, wife guilt and a bit of self doubt were all factors that came into play. But you have just got to remember that just like the pain, it is temporary, it'll pass and it's all worth it at the end of it all when you reach your goal.


Getting Ready To Race.

Leading up to the Marathon, everybody has advice (even from some who hadn't even completed one before haha!) but you better believe I took it all on board. I was totally nervous, terrified and excited... I had no idea what to expect of the day and running such a huge distance, so honestly I listened to any advice people had to offer no matter their experience and followed my instincts with what I thought would apply to my journey. Some tips I found that really helped:

Stay Hydrated : I know this sounds obvious, but hydration is key. You don't want to get to a point of the run where you think "I'm thirsty, time to have a drink" because by the time you feel thirsty, you are forever playing catch up and because of the energy you are expending you can never actually get to a point of hydration. I consciously stayed hydrated for the weeks leading up to the race and then on the day of, I made sure I took advantage of each water station. I never got to a point where I was desperate for water and I really think it got me over the line with a big smile on my face.

Lube up : Luckily, the pleasant subject of 'chaffing' was brought up in the days leading up to the run. I hadn't experienced it in any of my longer runs in training but I had no idea if I was to expect it once I ran post 30km. I bought a deodorant stick looking like thingy called Euroglide from a local sports store and rubbed that pretty much errrrywhere. Especially where your clothing would be relentlessy rubbing against your body parts for 4+ hours if you get my gist.

Cut the red meat : I generally eat a healthy diet throughout the year but in the days leading up to the race I was particularly conscious of what I was feeding my body. No red meat, lots of fish and vegetables... eggs, grainy toast and high fibre foods. You want to feel light but energised!

Sleep : my sleep can be pretty erratic because #mumlife #bizlife and the rest. I generally force myself to go to bed at 9:30pm at night and wake at 4am. But the week leading up to the Marathon I ditched the super early starts to rest my body and build up that sleep. The night before the race I set my alarm for 5am (the race started at 7:20am) so I would have plenty of time to eat a light and fibrous breakfast (I had almond milk and All Bran topped with sliced banana), go to the loo a couple of times, stretch, drink water, travel to the race and allow my body to be fully awake before starting the race. It worked so well!

Don't get caught up 'in' the day : Know that the excitement of the day will make you want to run fast out the gates. It's important to remember your training and what pace you can sit comfortably at. You want to sit comfortably for the first half and then use the good stuff that you have left in the tank for when it matters most at the end of the run (when it's pretty mental).

Experiment: Figure out what shoes, socks, clothing etc works for you and then stick with it for the weeks leading up and then follow through with those components on race day. You don't want to hit the shops the days before race day thinking, "I'll buy some proper running socks or fancy shoes" and then pop them on race day and be stuck for 42km hating and hurting in your new fancy purchase. Same goes for Energy Gels and Supplements... you want to experiment with those sorts of things weeks out so by the time you get to race day you know how and what works for you. I experimented with which tights ( of course!) , which training top, which bum bag to hold my gels and phone  (VIVRA represent!), which socks (thicker is better in my experience), which shoes (I ran in NIKE React Flyknits), which music.... you get the idea.

{ - this little contraption was with me in every training session and then served me amazingly on the big day}


The Race. The Day.

You very rarely experience such contrasting emotions at exactly the same time. I remember being so nervous and excited on the start line and throughout the entire race I remember thinking "this is just the best experience, but the worst/hardest experience" at the same time - in other words, I just think it felt really great to be out of my comfort zone - I think it's where the magic happens.

I started in Wave C with the aim of finishing under 4hrs 30mins. It had rained all week and on this particular day... it. was. pouring.

I had organised a Playlist of music to listen to the entirety of the race. I'd scrupulously picked through a plethora of songs to make sure each track was going to motivate and inspire me on the day, with no chance of any random song doing my head in. But come to the day, I took out my earphones on the start line and thought, I just want to soak up all the atmosphere for the start... Turns out I didn't need my earphones/music until the 24km mark! The smiling faces, the clapping and cheering, the sound of the camaraderie amongst the runners - it was all the motivation and inspiration I needed for the first 24km and I just think that goes to show what an awesome day it is. 

I soaked up all the different characters and personalities running around me... young and old, no matter the size or race.... all just heading for that finish line for their own reasons. There were people running barefoot and even more impressively I saw one lady running in thongs (!). I ran alongside an amazing man with a prosthetic leg, another with no arms. Truly amazing.

I had an amazing support crew on the day. Friends and family who had organised amongst themselves where they were going to position themselves for an hour here and there for the 10 seconds I would run past them. I was truly blown away by that and will never forget the feeling of relief and just pure joy really, seeing their familiar faces amongst the overwhelm of the day.

Just past the 30km mark as I had preempted, I started to hurt quite badly all over my legs, my toes were completely numb and I could feel my nerves going haywire in my fingers and arms. Any ailment is amplified and it is so easy to let it overcome your entire thoughts as you pound the pavement. I remember telling and willing myself to just keep moving forward, push through the pain and to just keep a sense of grace. It would all be over soon.

I took strength from the building crowd and didn't pay too much attention to the other participants around me. Many stopping, many cramping, many way ahead of me closer to the finish line. At the 37km mark I turned my music off and took motivation from the crowd once again. Just 5km to go I thought to myself..." that is one lap of my Burleigh track" - I can do that easy. My determination didn't waiver, I knew I could finish mentally, I just was in pain and I just didn't want to hurt myself so badly to the point I couldn't finish. So I paced myself slowly, surrendering to the fact that I most likely at this point wasn't going to make my goal of finishing under 4hrs 30mins. It didn't upset me, I knew I was giving my all and I didn't want that one little goal to sabotage the bigger picture. The kms ticked over and before I knew it, I was at the 41km mark and the crowd was now dense, the event music blearing loud from the speakers, I was getting teary. Oh gosh, I even get teary now writing this! As I turned into the final 100m strip approaching the grandstand and the summit of the finish line an overwhelming sense of pride and accomplishment washed over me. I was doing it, I was doing it! I was going to finish what I had started! My eyes turned to the grandstand, I was so ready to see my family to share that moment with them. As I crossed the finish line, I took a deep breath and felt an overwhelming sense of calm.  My life has had plenty of ups and its fair share of downs... In this moment I felt so free, like I was soaring. I finished the race with an official time of 4:38:54 - just so grateful to have had been able to participate and finish such an incredible experience at all.


I confidently encourage anyone who has toyed with the idea of completing a marathon to go ahead and just start. Don't think about it too much - sign up to the one you are eyeing off at least 6 months out and then just do the work. Ride all the emotions and enjoy it. I can't describe the feeling when you are in it, doing it, all that preparation coming to fruition - and then that feeling once it's done. Nothing good ever comes easy and this accomplishment was worth every bit of pain and sacrifice.

For me, towards the end of the training process, I didn't think so much about the fact that it was a running race. I started to approach it just as a life challenge I had set out to conquer and it just happened to involve running. Life is full of challenges, many we don't have any control of or could never prepare for... so this was a challenge I knew that if I was prepared for, I could succeed at.

Anywho...I think that's all I was hoping to cover with this post... if it inspires just one person to push themselves out of their comfort zone and do something that they'd never thought they would be able to do, then my job is done.

 Thank you so much to everyone who reached out or followed along the way. I felt your love and it definitely helped me on the day.

On to the next....

Big Love

LL xx









  • My god you’re inspiring! Whether it’s cooking, being an entrepreneur or mum life you’re killing it!! Some serious life challenges have hit me recently with my partner walking out on me and my six month old daughter. You’ve given me the confidence to to sign up for a half marathon and go for it! Thank you!!! 💓

    Emily on

  • So proud of you hon.

    Emily Jade on

  • Just amazing. I got ready just reading it. I ran my first half marathon a few years ago and I know the exact emotions you speak of. That photo at the end of you hugging Jayce, my running coach is behind you!! Well done on an amazing achievement!

    Saara Buckley on

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