Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Melbourne Marathon obituary

Dramatic header I know but it would not have been out of place in Monday morning's newspaper section on the weekend's deaths.

"7.00am - 9.47am. Started his journey hard and fast despite adverse conditions. Did his best to battle through over the mid race crisis and whilst he didn't turn it around entering the later stages, he was determined to the very end. May he Run in Peace now"

My marathon demise was pretty epic. It was fast and it begs the question - is it time to reset the old time expectations now I'm at the ripe old age of 42. Here's a list of excuses off the bat to get it out of the way:

- Hurricane winds - yep behind us occasionally but any runner knows they don't assist us to the level that they hinder us when attacking us from the front.

- Shoes: Went with lighter racing flat style shoes. Could have impacted the legs more

- First 5km in 17:12. Eighteen seconds quicker than planned. Was it over already at 5km?

- Sickness: on and off all winter. Two weeks ago Homebush 10km showed warning signs.

- The marathon hype: the build up is hard not to get sucked into. The marathon stands alone when preparation, mental focus, taper, nutrition, gear etc etc are factored in. We just overthink this distance too much I feel.

- Wrong distance / speed: The 100km I found easier but my pace was 1min slower per km so eating was easier. The marathon at 3:30kms is run on a knife's edge and unfortunately it might be time to bump that goal pacing up.

- Still trying to live the dream. I'm glad I ran under 2:30 way back in 2001. At the time I did not think for a second that it might be the quickest I would record. I have felt (and 5% still do) that there's still a chance of a PB but it's gradually fading.

- Enjoyment: I don't enjoy them. Sorry to say this. You all know I love my running and I especially love racing but the marathon - computer says no!

My taper was pretty much spot on last week. 35km total across 6 short runs. A day off Sat. Flight down, relax, average sleep but everything to plan right up and including the start.

Hoey, Brendan Davies, Alex Rodgers, Neil Pearson and Mick Donges all grouped around me to form the pack we had planned and were hoping would carry us all through to past 30km. 17:12 as mentioned through 5km was too quick but the wind was behind. 34:58 at 10km after battling head winds around Albert Park Lake, then at 14km I slipped off the back. I had already surged once to get back on and that alarm in my head went off as I slipped again. Within 7km to halfway I lost 3mins to the pack - that was the extent of what I was feeling. My half was 77min even and I was thinking, what do I do? Do I turn left and just run back to the finish? Gotta do that anyway so I might as finish the race, show the crew I can battle on and am not just a fair weather runner and hopefully inspire them along the way to run well.

Meanwhile Brucey, Elle, Ruth, Maya, Matt Hutton and the Vonk-o-nator (Robin) were all facing their own struggles. Robin fairing the best by far as he cruised past me just after halfway. He was still on for a PB (sub 2:43) so a glimmering light on a dull day.

On the return stretch from Elwood to St.Kilda, I spotted everyone even my sister Jenny who was running to finish and try to enjoy a full for a change. Elle, Ruth and Maya were separated by 30-40secs each which was frustrating to see. Bruce was with Jeet and had a grimace working well across his face. Robin was gonski way ahead and Matt caught me at the 32km mark. I remember exactly as I said to him "I'm not really leading by example today am I?" to which he tried to motivate us with saying we only had 10km to go.

Only?? I had been in pain since 18km but I wanted to finish and as such just shuffled on even having a few better kms at around 35-38km (4:05-15 each). Meanwhile I wasn't sure what was happening with my original sub 2:30 group. I was positive at least one or two would do it but it was not meant to be. Hoey crossed with another great result 2:32 and the others faded to run 2:36-39. I passed Alex Rodgers at 39km which was little reward as we were both gone. Gary Howard struggling to maintain his supportive chants as he saw our pain, simply saying in the end - "just finish it off" and that's what I did. High fived Liam Adams as I entered the MCG congratulating him on Rio in the process, ran the 250m on the grass and didn't really care less where I was. Could have been the moon the way I was feeling. Then practically fell over the line to join the other Hurts guys already dissecting their race. Great runs from Robin 2:42, Mike Litchwark, John Binfield and Justin Bromley who eased past me without a word at 35km. Also Darren, Jeet and Laura who battled on to finish. Hats off, the marathon is truly the great equaliser.

Besides Robin, none of my guys and girls ran a PB. Not many did, The winning time by Tom DoCanto

You have to take the good with the bad. Time to move on and get some speed back over summer. Try out some cross training perhaps (swimming and cycling) and enjoy a break from dedicated races.

There were plenty of others racing the half (Sammy Johnson running well), Rachel, Cormac, Corky,Tom, Erika etc and the 10km, Juny and Scotty O'Connor also running sub par to record 32:30.

Mileage for the week 78km

Here's the pictorial wrap of the day including a fun afternoon at the European Bier café in Melb CBD.

Easy few weeks for me coming up.

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