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MELBOURNE MARATHON 2019: SEVEN DOWN, THREE TO SPARTAN STATUS

October 25, 2019

Who can believe it’s nearly been a fortnight since the Melbourne Marathon for 2019 has been run and won? Perhaps I’m getting forgetful as I get older as I’m sure what happened a couple of weeks ago may not be overly relevant, but in the end who really cares. It won’t be as exciting as a Kipchoge sub 2 hour special, but the story I hope will at least fill some time leading into the end of season events.

It probably wasn’t the most ideal lead in only arriving in Melbourne after midnight on the Saturday Morning of race weekend, but when you’re like me and tend to go on some sort of misadventure when booking itineraries, perhaps I’m thankful that I got there at all. Certainly using points to fly to Brisbane, then getting a train and bus to the Gold Coast isn’t everyone’s preferred method of getting to race central, but it did save me some coin that I’ll need for later on. However the late arrival did mean a planned parkrun appearance had to be curtailed, as sleep was a little more important and I had too much to do at the expo precinct.

Gladly I was able to get what was needed on the Saturday done without great hiccup, apart from the fact that I had to visit a 3rd supermarket before I could find Lucozade for the personal drink stations, and even then it was only original rather than the orange I much prefer. Still the whole process of obtaining the race number, collecting the t-shirt which thankfully unlike last year’s model was suitable to wear as opposed to being only useful for ball tampering, taking the relevant Instagram photos and dropping the personal drinks off didn’t take all that long and I was able to basically chill for the remainder of the Saturday. In fact the only panic was after picking up my pizza for dinner when the stream for Kipchoge’s sub 2 hour tilt temporarily froze, but given they probably ran another couple of 2:50 kilometres I probably didn’t miss all that much.

After a decent night’s sleep (as opposed to many first timers whom I’m sure had a restless night) it was decided to wear the long sleeved shirt for the run, a decision that I’m sure would have raised a few eyebrows. Perhaps I was banking on stronger winds or colder Southerly breezes keeping the temperature down, but it turned out to be one of those “ideal for football” type days. Still I had no reservations using the long sleeves having done the Canberra Ultra in the exact outfit in April, and I could always roll them up if I found them a little restrictive. This decision did have some benefits pre-race, as the temperatures were a little cooler than normal (but not freezing), meaning taking the tram to cut some travel time off was a decent option. Construction work on one of the footbridges though meant getting to the MCG was more of an adventure than normal. Luckily the gate leading to the tram stop outside Melbourne Park was open, and the volunteers instructing runners to get to the start line using the other bridge further down the concourse hadn’t been delegated their areas at 5:30 AM.

Having given myself plenty of time to get everything done that I needed to, I probably made the one mistake for the whole weekend that upon reflection may have cost me some time. Normally when I do a warm up it’s taken seriously but with a little less intensity than what I’m hoping for in the first half of the race. By the end of the warm up I was doing it with such intensity and speed that if I didn’t have to make a toilet stop I probably would have ruined the whole race. It went against the whole relaxed persona I wanted to carry from warm up into the race and beyond.

The start was as frantic as ever, with the best laid plans swept up in the rush of those trying to make up time they lost crossing the mat (and no amount of saying your time starts when you cross the mat will ever change that). But at least the hydration plans were on track and my pace was just behind the 4 hour pace group. Thankfully the site of last year’s meltdown (18km) came and went without any fanfare, and I still felt in reasonable shape as I crossed the timing mat at halfway. The mindset was as calm as I had been for many years running this course, and this was even knowing I would be likely falling behind the 4 hour pacer as the second personal drink station approached at the 23km marker.

It was anticipated that based on past races I would have a drop off in the second half of races, which may of course mean I should be pacing myself better than I do. That said the aim was to keep up with the 4 hour crew until the southern most point of the course before dropping about a minute per kilometre. Whilst I fell off the back a little earlier than anticipated, I wasn’t fussed given it was actually embedded mentally in my planning. What I ended up struggling with was the uphill section passing the Shrine of Remembrance on the run up to the final personal drink station with about 5.5km remaining. Perhaps I should have tried to use a little more gas getting over the rise rather than being overly conservative, as it lead to my slowest kilometres of the entire day and in effect blew out any prospect of a 4:20.

By the time I was reminding others rounding the turn at Federation Square heading back towards The G to smile for the cameras around the corner, I was resigning myself to a 4:30 finish when alongside me came a familiar sight. Last year during the Point to Pinnacle race I saw a group called “Just Like Jack” who helped Jack, who was confined to a wheelchair, up Mt.Wellington. As an encore they had also decided to run in Melbourne which according to the chair pusher was as hard if not harder than the uphill climb to the top in Hobart. Figuring that I might get some TV time, pictures, or for that matter a bit of a cheer from the crowd I tagged along for the last kilometre trotting behind them on the hallowed turf. It ended up meaning my time was 4:32, which was slower than I wanted but at least it wasn’t as poor as last year’s effort!

Pleasingly I didn’t feel pain in any of my areas that I’m usually concerned about. A new strap for my knee for the IT Band helped immensely, meaning I no longer have to worry about strapping up the knee or carry a cumbersome brace on it. The new calf socks also worked well, again eliminating the need to look for scissors in order to secure the K-Tape that often falls off. The sole concern was a little cramping in the left hamstring as I was changing clothes post race, but the fact I didn’t even need a massage and was able to resume training the following Wednesday afternoon was a big plus. After all, finishing this race for the 7th time shouldn’t be sneezed at, and the photos below are just proof of what hard work can deliver (or maybe it’s just me being crazy to think that the 2019 medal has a life of its own and wanted to meet the other 6 medals).

Next on the agenda lies another run up Mt.Wellington in Point to Pinnacle, and this year with the local roads around Mt.Archer open I’m hoping to get some decent runs up prior to race day rather than trying to rely on base fitness from races to survive. Then less than a fortnight later comes Singapore, a race that I’m looking forward to as much as making the trip itself.

 

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