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BANG BANG…MY HAMMYS SHOT ME DOWN

April 19, 2014

Don’t be fooled by the title, I absolutely detest that stupid ‘Shot Me Down’ song by a so called talented artist. How a song whose title artist sings not one bar of the lyrics could be popular be so widely liked by the population is a blight on the youth of this nation. But this is a running blog, not a musical critics sounding post so I had better return to the matter at hand.

 

Last Sunday was the Canberra Marathon, the first event over the marathon distance in Australia for 2014 and part of the Australian Running Festival incorporating a whole weekend of events from 5km to 50km. More on the 50km guys at the moment, but its admirable that so many events could cater for the populace on the one weekend, and the fact that they were able to put the shorter events a day before the longer distances is a big winner. Staggering the start of the marathon/ultra marathon events and the half marathon was also a bonus, meaning that there was no need to negotiate the traffic. If anything it may have meant that marathon competitors like myself may be the traffic for the poor souls torturing themselves to go the extra 8km.

Before the event I had the feeling that this event may not go as I had hoped, possibly from the below par training runs in the week before. In hindsight I probably had taken too long to recover from the Twilight Run which was 3 weeks before Canberra. Yet as I landed in the nation’s capital at 5PM on the Friday there were no such thoughts. A trip to the footy on the Saturday Afternoon (and another win for the beloved Bulldogs, if you want to read my match report then http://www.footyalmanac.com.au/round-4-gws-v-western-bulldogs-its-against-he-law-to-frown-in-our-capital-city/ is the place to go to) and a shopping trip for supplies after the game should have rounded out the preparation nicely. Sadly I found it hard to fall asleep, made even harder by the old man wanting to engage me on Facebook. But I eventually found time for some shut eye and woke up as scheduled at 3:30AM.

Fortunately I was able to find the recovery zone in the morning after some trepidation and a loop of one of the many Government buildings. Then came the usual pre-race build up consisting of fluid intake, gear drop, dynamic warm up and heading to the start zone about 30 minutes before the start. A few sharp bursts in the car park of Old Parliament House (where the start line was located)  later and before I knew it the time to go had arrived. It did feel a little weird when on a loop of the current Parliament House the pack had to avoid a trio of casual runners heading in the opposite direction, not sure how they managed to wander onto the course but I’m sure they got out of the run what they wanted.

The initial plan was to keep pace with the pace runners representing 4 hours, but that plan went out the window about 6km into the event. Instead I linked up with someone who had completed the event a couple of previous occasions, and using his pace as a guide we ended up passing the 3:45 pace runners (who according to their schedule were actually a minute ahead) before heading onto the motorway. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and although going too fast was a genuine fear, to discover after the event I had covered the 2nd sector of 10km in a tick over 51 minutes seemed ridiculously fast by my standards. Little wonder that I started to flag slightly past the 25km mark.

Then came the moment that will probably live with me for near eternity, at least in running terms. Passing the 31km marker the next area of road involved an uphill left hand turn at what normally is an intersection with active traffic lights. I will also remember that one of the course volunteers like myself is a Western Bulldogs member (free plug, visit http://membership.westernbulldogs.com.au/ to sign up today, you won’t be sorry) which seemed to raise the spirits a little. After rounding the corner the rise slowly continued until the 31.5km mark. It was at that point where disaster struck. Normally when I feel a cramp it generally affects the troublesome calf muscles (which touch wood have not been injured for close to 18 months now). This time it was BOTH hamstrings that cramped simultaneously, literally stopping me in my tracks. Fortunately for me there was a little assistance from some friendly locals to at least provide me with mobility (the right hamstring was a little more stubborn than the left) and I was soon enough back on the course.

From that moment on it was a struggle to get to the line. Any thought of getting a personal best time, let alone breaking the 4 hour marker that was an initial aim was long forgotten. Several times I had to slow to a walk as the legs didn’t feel as though jogging was a good idea, although the efforts came firstly at the split point for the 50km runners to start their final loop, many of whom were in as bad a condition as I was, and then as the finish area came in sight. Strangely the finish clock wasn’t positioned at the finish gantry, but rather about 750 metres from the finish which at least saw me increase my pace to a waddle. It was a rare moment of crossing the line without a few others surrounding me, but all I felt was a relief. In fact I even gave the young lass handing out the finishers medals a kiss on the cheek, noticed by a bloke doing the same thing whom when asking me if he could get a kiss himself I cheekily suggested I’d use the tongue (I didn’t kiss him).

 

So there are some lessons that I feel are worth taking into the Gold Coast Marathon in July, feel free to add to this list below…..

– Perhaps I should have carried an extra Gatorade bottle with me. I have had one with me at all times on the course for both Melbourne and Canberra and they haven’t proven to be enough, especially with lollies in the other which have been largely untouched.
– Sleep earlier on the Saturday, although the late footy finish (didn’t get back from Manuka Oval to the Motel until 8:30) may not have helped.
– Use the drink stations, while it was always the intention to skip the first drink station, I actually skipped the second a few kilometres down the road. Plus I waited for the stations with sports drink (they used Dextro brand drink, they sponsor the elite triathlon world series) rather than at least taking on board water if only to cool the body.
– Improve the training in the weeks before the event. Certainly taper off and run less in the weeks before the event, but I felt the last 3 weeks preparation seemed inadequate.
– Band Aids to be worn over the nipples, this was the inside of the singlet after the event….

Battle scars exhibit A

A post shared by Mick Jeffrey (@mhjeffrey027) on

 

So where too from here? The plan is to start training as early as Easter Sunday where a stroll around the Tan Track may be on the agenda. After that will come a few decent runs before ramping up the training for both the local Rocky River Run at the end of May, and the City2South a few weeks later which will comprise the rehearsal events for the Gold Coast Marathon which coincides with some boring blogger turning 30. Entries for those events will be lodged in the next pay cycle, transportation and accommodation will be finalised shortly after that.

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