Last weekend was awesome...
Marathon 12 was back on home turf, running 11 laps around the Tan Track in Melbourne, following some time away for Alice Springs Marathon the previous weekend. I was really pleased with what I had done in Alice Springs and my aim for this marathon was simply to improve on that time of 3:22, only 7 days later. I enjoy the challenge of backing up marathons one week after another and it gives the second run a bit more purpose. I seem to get that little bit more determined to not be slower or fade at all. It’s like a giant 'negative split' I suppose!
On race morning, I had woken up early to the sound of torrential rain and howling wind at about 5 am. Bugger. The thought crossed my mind to just drop the run, eat lots, drink wine and simply reschedule, but the thought of then trying to fit another marathon into the remaining 4 months of the year, persuaded me to get my arse out of bed and get cracking on some coffee and breakfast. The start of the marathon was a rather leisurely 9 am and being only 3km from home, it all felt a little too easy and relaxed. That was until it came to actually leaving the house, when we discovered that we couldn’t find the car keys anywhere. 15 minutes of searching high and low, the usual blame games between husband and wife, then the subsequent relief of hearing...“oh here they are!” put me in a slightly more stressed out mode, but nothing that was going to alter the race. I am certainly finding that as I go through the year and run each race, that I am gradually getting more and more chilled out in those normally nerve-wracking pre-race moments.
As 9 am rolled around and the marathoners gathered at the start line to give a special tribute to Kevin Barry (it was his 100th marathon!!!!) it all felt so calm and relaxed. I’m not sure anyone was actually 100% ready to run, but off we went, doing a short 'out and back' before getting started on the 11 laps of the Tan (3.87km). In the first few hundred metres I chatted to a couple of the usual suspects, fully expecting someone to speed off into the distance, as has happened in the other Trails + marathon events this year, but nobody did. So by the turnaround, I found myself rather unexpectedly at the front of the pack. Back through the start / finish we came and I remember waiting and waiting and waiting for someone to come past for the entirety of the first lap. At that point the competitive jeans kick in and I thought, well I don’t get the opportunity to win things very often, so lets make this one count!
I had decided not to wear a GPS watch again, as I had enjoyed it so much last week in Alice Springs, but given my new found position at the front, for some reason I suddenly wanted to see my splits, pace and distance every 5 seconds. So, I began using the clocks at either end of the Tan to try and gauge my pace, as well as asking a few people on the way round. Being honest, this week, not having the watch stressed me out a bit. I think basically i just couldn’t do the maths in my head and it frustrated me. Maths was never my strong point and I remember crying over my homework as my dad tried to explain to me why the hell someone had decided to put x y and z in amongst the numbers. Bloody algebra. Anyway, I digress...I was aiming for 4:30-4:45 per km for the duration and knew I was going around that based on feel and the rough calculations on the clocks at either end.
As we got into the meat of the run, the weather changed and changed and changed again. At some points there were icy winds swirling around then Tan, then 5 minutes later we would be basking in glorious baking sunshine. None of that really bothered me too much but I felt for the spectators who were struggling to keep warm and dry.
Even though this is a relatively small event, it was great to see so many people out supporting, or running in the various distances. It very much felt like a ‘home’ marathon, which considering that it was only 3km from home is pretty accurate. The wonderful Erica King from Running Divas made an appearance to say hi, Greg Porter from Krunchies was ever present at the start / finish straight, Shaun and Chris from Nokkon were making their way around in the 21km and 50 km respectively and other local businesses and running partners seemed to materialise out of nowhere to support the runners as they did their thing. I really do think that over the last 2 years of being in business as a running coach, I have become involved in such an awesome community of recreational runners and businesses to support them.
One of the runners that I coach, Sarah, made an appearance to do part of her long run with me and that was awesome to be able to share part of the marathon with her. Other friends were either joining in or running in the opposite direction, cheering and supporting each time our paths crossed. A fellow parkrunner, Steve, who was running the half marathon was running at exactly the right pace for me to tuck in behind him for a few laps as well, which was a real bonus and allowed me to not think about anything else than sticking to him like glue.
The first 8 or 9 laps went really quickly but as often happens, the last segment got a little tougher! I had lost count of the laps after 3 laps (told you numbers weren’t my strong point) but I knew that I had about 5 minutes lead on second place so i could afford not to push too hard. I would love to say that I cruised the last couple of laps in to the finish, but I didn’t. The last couple really hurt and my right knee was giving me a bit of grief. For some reason, as I started the last lap, I decided that I needed a pick-me-up and picked up the fruit bar that I had left at the aid station. There is no way it was going to make the slightest bit of difference in the remaining 20 minutes and I cursed myself as I nearly choked on the bloody thing and it hurt to swallow the enormous bite that I had just taken. I threw half of it in the bin and noted to not bother trying that ever again. Apart from that, my nutrition plan had gone well. A gel at 21km, a gel at 30km and a 600ml bottle of infrared mix sipped throughout. Simple but effective. I had also taken on a few lollies and a couple of cups of electrolyte from the aid station.
The last couple of times up Anderson St. I really wanted to pull over and take a seat in the chair that some supporters had set up for their runner. Very tempting, but I decided to keep going and keep plodding. Once I made it up to the top of Anderson St on the last lap I was still hurting, but really relieved that it was pretty much all flat or downhill from there. I smiled as I came down the last couple of hundred metres towards the finish and as you might see from the pics, was pretty relieved to cross the finish line in 1st place. I think it was precisely 23 seconds before I had a piece of cake in my hand… I really love the fruit cake that they give you at Trails + events. More of that please Brett….
Aside from my own race, it was great to see Chris Wright from Nokkon continue his running journey. He is turning into a freak of nature and won the 50km. Not only does the dude run quick, with awesome form, but he also runs in sandals. Next level commitment. You won’t catch me doing that any time soon! The other big story that I was so pleased to see was Rebecca Fowlds. It was awesome to see Bec finally banish her sub 4 hour demons at marathon distance and cross the line in 3:59:04. She ran a well paced race and has worked hard to achieve that result. I am really excited about what she can achieve in the coming years!
I have pulled up ok from this marathon, with just a sore knee and a bit of a nagging achilles on my right side to contend with at the moment. I have deliberately taken this week very easy, eaten well and am feeling pretty good because of it. I have done a couple of recovery sessions at Fluid health, had some dry needling done at Port Melbourne Physio & Pilates (they are always really eager to stick needles in me for some reason….) and a few long walks with the dog, to help keep moving.
I am going to be making a conscious effort and trying to slowly change a few eating, drinking and running habits over the next couple of months as we hit the Sydney, Busselton and Melbourne Marathons, to keep myself in better working order. I can slowly feel the toll of the marathons starting to kick in, so I think more proper rest and recovery is in order and improving my diet even slightly will help enormously.
I am also getting started on organising the final of the 17 marathons, which is going to be a treadmill marathon!! Keep the afternoon of 9th December free and head down to Port Melbourne and party with us for this last marathon effort. I want this to be a lot of fun, a bit of a celebration and a final bit of fundraising to hit that $17,000 target. I am hoping to get two treadmills and have people join me for 1km segments of that final run. I am stoked that my sister and my parents will be there as well and hopefully I will be in a good enough state to share a few beers with them and you all afterwards. There are some big plans for this event, which I am really excited about and I will keep you posted as we go!
Keep supporting the 17 in 2017 marathon journey and please donate to the awesome Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute here. Every donation gets us closer to our $17,000 target!
Onwards to Sydney Marathon on 17 September!!