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August 26, 2019

Been a while since I’ve touched base here, basically because I’ve been regrouping after the Comrades experience (it was NOT a disaster or a tragedy this year) and planning for the rest of the year has been going on in earnest. As usual the first item on the agenda was going to be the Gold Coast Marathon but a calf injury playing footy (what else) and being required at work reasonably early the next morning meant I had to downgrade to the half, which I wobbled through in a tick over 2:30. Certainly far from the time I had envisioned but given I was still unsure over whether I was going to run a few hours before start time it was just a case of get through this and move on.

Attention then turned to the usual next marathon on the hit list, being the Perth City to Surf. Whilst the main race is over a hilly 12km course, and others do the half or are happy to get through a 4km effort, guys like me would be toeing the line on the marathon start line for the 5th time in 6 visits (2017 was a half marathon entry due to injury). It was arguably the biggest field that I had been a part of in those 5 years, with just over 600 starters when normally fields of 350 have been common.

In training for this and other events like Melbourne in October, I’ve discovered I’ve been able to show just a little more speed and maintain this for longer than I have been for a while. Perhaps the healthier body has a lot to do with it, not so much the weight but the lack of muscle aches and strains! Anyway this was perhaps the catalyst for how I began this day. Normally the start would be relatively sedate even if the first couple of kilometres were going to be frantic as the pack sweeps me up. Today for some reason it swept me up for 11km prior to the 4 hour pace group sweeping me up and spitting me out behind. It wasn’t exactly the strategy I was aiming for despite knowing I needed to bank time to compensate for virtually walking up the majority of the hills. The hope was to keep a steady tempo in order to save some legs to perhaps attack some of the hills rather than play the conservative game.

Once the 4 hour group left me in my wake I was able to keep them in sight for the next few kilometres which mentally can see a runner go one of two ways. Some may see this as frustration particularly if they’re caught in a good old fashioned “No Man’s Land”; too far behind the main group but too far ahead of the next pack. For me it was a good thing knowing my plan was at least working to a degree, knowing that I was always going to drop some time and with the group nearby it obviously meant I was on target to run a decent time. In some years past I may have been able to stay in front a little further in years where the hills didn’t really kick in until King’s Park and the course continued to stay relatively close to the Swan River, but in the last few years the course changed to incorporate hills around bowls clubs and golf courses in the Dalkeith region.

Got through the half way marker in the Uni WA Campus just on the 2 hour mark which is always a good mental goal. Certainly for Melbourne getting here at this time is almost a necessity if I want to achieve a time as fast if not faster than this. I ended up spending a minute or so making an unscheduled pit stop even though I was busting for a few kilometres, before hitting King’s Park where it was a case of walk up the bulk of the hills and make up time rolling down. By this time I was also calculating the time I needed to make the Comrades 2020 qualifying standard, as the qualification period had kicked off on the 24th of August (and because I’m still considered a novice despite 3 DNF’s, I am now required to qualify before entering to get one of 7000 reserved slots for Novices) even if the entry period is supposedly beginning later than it did last year. Checking almost every kilometre may border on the slightly obsessive, but it was reassuring to know that I felt I had (as an example) about 2 hours to complete the last 14 kilometres on terrain not overly dissimilar to Sydney’s City2Surf even if on tiring legs.

It’s always a killer part of the course when climbing the hill on Underwood Avenue. The good news was that we weren’t alone with the 12km walkers on the other side of the road taking their time to negotiate the climb, but for marathon runners this type of climb can dispirit a runner chasing a quick time. Hence the game plan to bank minutes at the start of the run knowing that climbing will take longer than normal. Unlike in previous years however, I was able to run most of the ensuring Perry Lakes Drive before another planned walk up the last major climb on Oceanic Drive. Once you’re over the last climb, I tend to look to the left knowing that I’m seeing finishers from various distances walking back towards where they parked rather than heading to the shuttle buses. I know then that I can easily roll to the finish, and my legs were in a decent enough condition that for once I didn’t slow to walking speed in the final finishing chute.

Unlike Auckland last year where I was feeling rather jubilant, the finish saw a smile of contentment rather than being overjoyed, disappointed or any other emotion in between. For once I may have even allowed myself to grin my way over the finish line almost waiting for the gantry to tick over to the 4:24 marker, which when chip time was taken into account saw my finish time of 4:23:18 be a new personal course record (beating the 4:25:12 from 2016), the fastest time I had run over the marathon distance since Gold Coast 2016 (4:20:00) and more importantly saw me run fast enough for another “G” group Comrades Qualifier (the standards are as per 2019, minimum standard being 4:49:59). Surprisingly my legs felt in decent condition, which made the wait for a post race massage bearable unlike last year when by the time I arrived just about everyone had packed up and gone home. It also feels pretty good to be able to walk after a marathon with a view to returning to training during the week rather than having to use a whole week to recover, although I can still err on the side of caution should I feel the need.

Only 4 races are now left on the dance card for this year. Next on the agenda is the half marathon in Sydney in mid September, a race where there’s some unfinished business given my DNF in 2017 due to calf issues. Given that this is a training run rather than a race run I’m not going to be looking for a specific time, although a sub 1:55 would be nice. Then it’s onto Melbourne in mid October, back to Hobart for another climb up Mt.Wellington where this year I’ll actually record some footage during the run (although going live will have to wait, don’t think I’ll have sufficient data at that stage to pull it off), and the finish this year is late November in Singapore where the entry will be lodged sometime this week.


From → 2019 events, ARCHIVES

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