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TWAS TWO NIGHTS BEFORE M-DAY (and a few more till Christmas)

October 11, 2013

It’s funny how you remember the first time you managed to do things that you either had to do or held an ambition of doing. So many times you think that something’s going to happen, that it will play out exactly either as you planned or had dreamed about (as a kid you tend to plan in dream form rather than formally). So many times what you’re about to do is so daunting you have second, third and even fourth thoughts of doing it before heading to a starting point to find it isn’t as bad as you thought it would be.

So as my maiden flirtation with the monster called the marathon approaches, perhaps this little posting will put my mind at ease somewhat. Yet the same thoughts I’m sure will enter the mind at various stages tomorrow (Saturday) and as I approach the start area for the siren (the substitute for a gun) to signal the feet to start pounding the pavement in earnest. Thoughts I’m certain will range from “Am I good enough to do this?” to “Did I leave something I needed to get on my own bed thousands of kilometres away?” Certainly I’m anticipating that the questions and thoughts will change several times before I cross the stripe on the hallowed turf of The G (That’s the MCG, the Melbourne Cricket Ground for the overseas readers) sometime around lunchtime on Sunday afternoon.

Undoubtedly one of the doubts that I’ll have to confront will be preparation, or lack thereof. Whilst I’ve been happy enough with the training I’ve completed certainly I would have loved to complete longer distances or achieved longer stints at a higher tempo. But then again even the very best runners I’m sure at some stage would think that some part of their race preparation wasn’t finished to their satisfaction. Given that the last major run I had was a local half-marathon last week completed in a tick over 1:57, the so called experts would have cringed I went so far so close to a major event. Yet this was something I was always confident of starting and finishing, for as stage actors need their dress rehearsals before opening night of a high money Broadway musical, runners need some sort of practice race to simulate what they want to do before their ‘curtain call’.

Was the 1:57 half marathon satisfying on a personal level? In some ways it was given the warm temperatures (24 degrees air temperature at Yeppoon would have translated to over 30 at road level, at least that’s what it felt like with minimal breeze about) and the nature of the course which in reality in my opinion didn’t really suit my preference in a route. Three laps of a virtual pancake flat course may have been conducive to slick times but it actually seems harder to complete from a mental sense. I always seem to be looking for elevation changes, or simple changes in landmarks to maintain focus and motivation. However the organisers deserve all the praise that they receive, the small team running the whole show with several events throughout the morning catering for an ever increasing number of participants handling the pressure with relative ease.

What did I learn from last weekend that I can use for this weekend and other runs into the future? For starters I doubt I will be considering taking on a honey shot towards the end of the run. Perhaps the fact this was the first time I had consumed honey in its pure form for several years, and certainly the first time during any form of exercise meant that the body wasn’t used to the flavour entering the body causing a negative reaction. Perhaps I should stick to old fashioned soft lollies at some point on Sunday, although I’m not sure how I’ll be taking them on board for it seems there are only fluid stations on the route. Perhaps it wasn’t the wisest idea also to have a second helping of potato bake the night before, but given the amount prepared by my sister (who had a nearby base that was much closer to the race precinct) how could I say no?

The other thing I will have learnt relates to sleep, or more to the point adjusting the clock on my phone to the time zone I am in at the time and waking up at the appropriate hour. Thinking that my phone automatically detected the time of day the alarms were set accordingly as they usually are on a Sunday (employment dictates the alarms are set at such times often). After having a bath, YES A BATH, NOT A SHOWER, and dressing accordingly including applying the strapping to the ankle that was bothering me most of the week and the calf skins, I noticed that the time on my phone was exactly an hour ahead of the time indicated on my iPod. My worst fears were confirmed when I turned on the TV to catch the garbage that is early Sunday morning television……the phone thought I was in a time zone where Daylight Savings applied (Queensland is a state that RIGHTLY doesn’t observe it, but that’s an argument for another forum) and I had indeed risen an hour earlier than I should have. At least this week the phone will indicate the proper time after I manually change the settings sometime shortly after landing at Tullamarine tomorrow.

So just how will I prepare for the marathon on Sunday? Not too much will alter in terms of a warm-up and stretching routine so long as I’m able to find sufficient space for the dynamic warm-up an hour before the start. Like so many other participants however, travelling to the start line is a concern with public transport in Melbourne on Sunday’s not commencing until an hour AFTER the marathon start (as a point of reference, it generally starts just after 4:30AM on most lines during the working week and close to 6AM on a Saturday). From past experiences it will take at least a 40 minute walk from my motel room to the start area, plus a 5 minute stop at a local 7-Eleven to stock up on fuel which as usual will consist of Gatorades and probably a chocolate bar which is about the extent of the solids that I consume in the hours before major physical activity.

The one thing I will be leaving until I prepare to leave for the start line is exactly what I’ll be wearing at the start line. Perhaps I am being spooked by the colder conditions forecast for Sunday, given the need to adjust to conditions close to 20 degrees cooler in air temperature by comparison to what is being experienced at home. The decision will be whether I feel I need to wear the long sleeved skins under garment under my top (a 2012 model Western Bulldogs training jumper I donned in Adelaide) or not. It’s not that it would be the first time I’ve worn it in race situations, indeed the first time I wore this was in Geelong 11 months ago and I used it for the City2Surf amongst other events this year. I’m more concerned that the body will be excessively warm considering I’ll be wearing it for 28 more kilometres than I’ve ever worn it in races, and that I couldn’t wait to shed that layer after crossing the finish line. The fact that I’ll have a layer of warm clothing over the top of the race kit before the start won’t be a consideration; those clothes will be dropped off at clothing drop-off well before the start.

Anyway, if you want to track my progress on Sunday morning (Australian Time), then simply head to http://www.mapandrun.com/ after the start of the marathon (GMT +11 at this stage). It will ask for the the bib number of the competitor which you would like to track, which in my case is number 7491. Note that some sources have indicated that it may not work if I’m too slow to reach the 30km mark (roads do need to be periodically re-opened) but I’m confident of reaching this point within the 4 hour time limit before I have to use footpaths to complete the course. After all, I’m hopeful of reaching the finish line at a time close to when the officials redirect competitors to the alternate course at 30km.

For those of you competing on Sunday, see you at the start line. I promise not to go too fast, and there’s no hint of sarcasm in that statement either!

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