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October 19, 2017

It’s funny how people call target events their “Grand Final”, especially given how so many train for month upon month just to make it to the start line. Whilst I’m now experienced to know how much training is needed to get through marathons to make the experience worthwhile, the added pressure of what lay ahead made this year’s Melbourne Marathon arguably the most important marathon I would ever start.

Every year it seems I do something slightly different than in previous years, and 2017 would again prove to be no different. This year I decided to travel to Brisbane on an overnight train (well close to overnight given the departure time was technically on the same day as arrival) rather than fly and stay overnight which I had done last year and in 2013. Then it was off to the airport taking advantage of PLATINUM FREQUENT FLYER STATUS (Virgin Australia are kind people, KA-CHING!) for the first time to arrive in Melbourne after 6:30 on a coolish Friday Night. Check into the apartment, then for the first time in a while I felt unsure over what to eat which may have been a sign that this weekend had more riding on it than just a 5th finishers medal.

In past years, I would rise early to make sure I got to the MCG for bib collection and associated activities early enough to have the rest of Saturday at leisure. For some reason I just couldn’t rise from the slumber until after 8AM, and it wasn’t until 10AM that I started walking to the hallowed ground, just to stand in a decent sized line for about 30 minutes (well I know they usually warn people to get in earlier if possible but sometimes it can’t be helped). The process itself was much like every other bib collection, straightforward and complete in just a couple of minutes.

Some may question why I don’t take up the early entry option to get the bib mailed to me, partially for peace of mind having it in my possession and partially to give work to myself. The simple answer is that unlike most other marathons I enter, any marathon participant is able to utilise a personal drinks station service at a trio of locations,of which I use stations 2 and 3 given the hydration plan doesn’t allow for me to start looking for any fluid until the station prior to the 1st personal drink stop and that I feel that it’s too early to look for a special energy boost. Also using the later stations would be a psychological aim and goal that many runners need in the second half of tough events like marathons.

Another change to the program came after I collected the bib. In past years I would have a little lunch, then wander off into the suburbs for some shopping. This year all I did following lunch was purchase some essentials for the next day (including a lighter knee brace thinking that would support the left knee), then flop on the bed flicking between Facebook updates and the races on TV (kept the money in the pocket this time). Had my usual pre race pizza just after 5PM, with the last thing I ate prior to a nap (you don’t really have a big sleep on race eve) being some ice cream. Again it wasn’t the first time I had ate this on race eve having done so in Perth at least twice before, and it’s not recommended for everyone. But to me that would be the best nerve settler I could think of knowing how much race day Sunday would mean.


Fortunately I didn’t sleep through any of my alarms, but I was a little worried when I discovered the bulky knee brace that I usually use to support my right knee wasn’t in my bag, or at least I couldn’t spot it without doing a full search which at the time was something I couldn’t do. Often the right knee does get sore late in long events but the brace was more for peace of mind than it was a fully blown injury support. Without any K-Tape in the bag either, I was at least glad I made the investment in the new knee support the previous day. Apart from that the only other real choice I had to make was the choice of zinc for the nose, with Blue winning out over Yellow on the basis of being first found.

Even the walk to the MCG didn’t help ease the nerves or tension. Usually it would have been an easy task following pathways and wandering across the footbridge that links the Melbourne Park precinct with The G. For some reason this year those constructing the start area had so much fencing erected, I had to backtrack to Birrarung Marr and enter using the footbridge heading to the Members concourse. Not ideal to have to use up more energy than I had anticipated, but at least I didn’t have to wander down stairs. Once inside the bowels of the G the preparation became as normal as it could have compared to past years. Plenty of time was left to have a last loo break and a decent stretch, although my worries about the calf meant I didn’t jog or do a great deal of dynamic stretching. The moment of truth arrived at 7AM EDST……..TO BE CONTINUED

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