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MELBOURNE MARATHON 2014 PART 2: THE PRE-RACE BUILDUP

October 18, 2014

So we’ve come full circle, 12 months ago was the first crack at the distance and the first attempt at a hometown event. After finishing in just under 4:20 with limited preparation not knowing what to expect was an achievement in itself. Now it was time for the encore performance, with more defined goals established and knowledge of the course which was further enhanced by the City2Sea experience a month later.

Last year was a rushed job, with the flights split over a couple of days, training rather haphazard and the plan not determined until the morning of the event. This year it was a relief to have the flights booked and accommodation sorted well in advance, so much that whilst this event was taking place planning for the next event was underway (more on that later). Getting into Melbourne on Friday Afternoon was such a relief in many ways. There was no need to panic, rush or hustle and of course it’s reassuring to be back on home turf. I slept very well that night, even after getting a few hours on the flights as I usually try to get when I’m booked on the early flight from home.

 

Saturday for many runners is usually just a day to put the feet up and relax, but for me I find it better to keep myself reasonably busy. First task was to collect the race bib and drop off my personal drink at the MCG. Some people may well have preferred to have their entry lodged early enough to have their bib mailed to them, but the only event I’d dare try to do this is the City2Surf in Sydney because of the sheer number of entries in that event. The fact that I decided to use a personal drink at the 2nd station this year sealed the deal. This was an option not available at all in Canberra and only available to the elite runners on the Gold Coast and it was something I had experimented with in training. The hardest part of Saturday was in fact finding where to drop off the drink, but a little guidance from the (as usual) always helpful volunteers saw me in the right direction.

After that it was filling in time with what I felt needed to be done. Next stop was to put on the bets for that afternoon at Caulfield (never struck me why I should go to the races when I’d go to punt rather than to pick up or get comatose), then a bite to eat prior to what many describe as an exercise in bravery….a trip via the train to Broadmeadows. I probably could have purchased what I needed to buy in the CBD (which turned out to be a Gone in 60 Seconds DVD in the $7 bin at JB Hi-Fi and a $10 pair of socks from Sportsco) but I also felt I needed to kill some time and this was as good a place as I thought.

Pre-Race dinner was the biggest Lasagne I could get my hands on from the supermarket with some potato gems. I was glad I was able to use the oven for the task given the troubles I usually have with using the microwave to cook similar packaged food at work. The other option was to order a Pizza which is what I did before the Gold Coast, but my mind was made up waiting for the train at Broadmeadows, plus I felt that buying the fluids for the pre-race buildup would be cheaper and better if I purchased them earlier as opposed to a dash in the morning to 7-Eleven. Despite misgivings with Daylight Savings, I retired to bed about 9PM falling asleep an hour later.

Thankfully I didn’t sleep through the alarm which is always a concern, and after a shower at 4AM I managed to get my gear together. Amongst the checklist was

– pinning the bib to the singlet acquired at the Twilight Bay Run to the front only (as opposed to my first effort at Wynnum where I pinned both front and back together)

– applying all the bandaging in the right areas in an attempt to prevent the nipples and underarms rubbing against the singlet (I had problems with this in Canberra in particular)

– packing the remainder of the leg supports in the gear bag (hamstring and calves)

– loosely putting on the race shoes that I hadn’t worn since Monday (fearful of the shoes falling apart in the last week, so I use older clogs to complete the training program)

– gathering all the fluids from the fridge

– Leaving it until the last minute to take both iPod and phone off their chargers.

– A final check of when the transport would pass through the area (which I made with a couple of minutes to spare).

 

I arrived in the CBD at approximately 5:15AM, with a short walk to the start area enabling me to scout the first kilometre, albeit under street lighting with the course still being setup. Fortunately I was able to walk in with another competitor to converse with which calmed me. I never like to enter alone and I sometimes feel uneasy following others in case they go in a direction where I didn’t intend to go. He apparently had problems in training with illness laying him low just when his training cycle began to peak, so at least it was reassuring that my training, as interrupted as it may have been, was better than someone’s.

After sitting in the bowels of the MCG after arriving a little early to take advantage of bag drop, there was plenty of time to get stuck into the playlist I described in the previous post. Soon enough it was time to apply the bandaging to the legs and strap the shoes on to the tightness required. One last gulp of drink later, it was time to strip to race gear, drop the bag off, and wait in the long line for a final toilet break. I guess everyone wanted desperately to find one of the limited cubicles rather than take their chances at a urinal or a porta-loo. After my quick trip (rapid compared to several others), there was enough time to apply the zinc to the nose as is my custom before the march across the footbridge to Batman Avenue and the start area.

It was a truncated dynamic warm up due to the toilet delay, followed by a 15 minute wait in the start zone trying to take note of the pace runners representing 4 hours. These were the people I would be aiming to stay in front of, particularly the 2nd runner (there was always a pair of pacers in each group). A final adjustment of the visor after the national anthem and making sure my timing device (an app on my iPod which by that stage was silent, the earphones having being removed and placed in the armband) was active was all that remained before the final countdown. At a time close to 7AM on Sunday the 12th of October, the shotgun was fired and the start of the journey was upon us.

 

 

COMING UP: The 42km itself, and the aftermath.

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