Meet Jessica Walley, The first female participant to cross the finish line in the 2017 Tauranga International Marathon as she shares her story of hard work, dedication, and ambition which led her to that number 1 spot.
How did it feel to be the first female participant across the line in last year’s event?
Looking back now it was a great feeling! I certainly suffered in those last few Kilometres having never run that distance before but that’s all part of the experience. Getting across the finish line was the best feeling as I got to a point where I literally thought it was never coming!
How much training did you to do to achieve this?
A fair bit. I am lucky enough to be coached by Craig Kirkwood so I don’t have to think about the planning and prep too much – I just tried to do as I was told and not complain, most of the time anyway.
How do you prepare for a big event day?
Physically, just trust the process and get out on the road. Running on the days when you couldn’t think of anything worse makes you stronger. Oh and don’t neglect the stretch.
Mentally making friends with pain and discomfort during your training sessions is a good start. Haha! I know that sounds a bit dark, but learning to kind of switch off from what your body is going through and keep your mind strong and relaxed can make a massive difference.
Also, find good running buddies (and a good playlist for when they bail). I was a bit of a loner with running until last year, I started running with people, and got some pretty great friendships out of it. Some decent chat and a bit of gossip goes a long way when you have 28 kilometres to tackle.
Has participating in events like this helped you in other parts of life?
Definitely, I have always enjoyed running for the mental clarity and focus it brings afterwards – as exercise tends to do. It sounds counterintuitive but training most days of the week gives you more energy. Also, working towards a goal like that tends to keep everything else in your life on track, it improves your productivity, gives you better focus.
How old were you when you began long-distance running? What made you want to pursue it?
I think 2014 was my first year training with Craig, so I was 24. I had always wanted to have a crack at it but I was too busy playing football at school to get into it. I sometimes wish I started sooner but hey!
Do you have any final advice you would like share with participants running this year?
Enjoy it!! You’ve (hopefully) worked hard for the last few weeks/months so now you can relax and take it all in.
Try not to go out too fast at the start, no matter how good you feel – You’ll regret that in the last few K’s – Well I always do anyway!
Jessica has is returning to the 2018 Tauranga International Marathon to defend her title and we wish her all the best! Keen to tackle your own challenge? Learn more about the Tauranga International Marathon at www.marathontauranga.co.nz