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March 3, 2020

First marathon of the year has been done and dusted, which brings the completed marathon tally up to 20 from 22 starts. Of course I normally wouldn’t consider taking on the full marathon distance before March at the earliest in normal circumstances, but I felt that a change in Comrades preparation was needed in a bid to avoid a 4th consecutive non finish. Hence instead of the half marathon that I normally run, the decision was made to step up in distance.

Getting there did hit a couple of snags during race week which I was fortunate to iron out before departing on Friday afternoon. Fortunately my frequent flyer status enabled me to get into Melbourne an hour earlier than originally planned, and I even scored a nice little hotel upgrade for the night….which saw me sleep in and missed the planned parkrun appearance at Parkville. Well I suppose a good night’s sleep after working a 4AM shift all week was in order. The train north to Wang however became a bus journey due to a derailment of the XPT service from Melbourne to Sydney earlier in the week. Not that I was fazed by it but others at Broadmeadows station just after 12PM on a Saturday Afternoon were more confused and impatient after having several buses come and go, but not to their destination. Personally I wasn’t that concerned unless there was a cancellation, which there wasn’t. I did arrive at 3PM, checked into a motel that in reality probably looked a little out of place in a town like Wangaratta (very stylish complete with mini bar), had the almost ritualistic pizza the night before the race (typical Dominos crap, only ate there because it was easy to order online), purchased supplies for the next day, and fell asleep a little later than planned.

Race day was well and truly cooler than the weather had been at any stage in Rockhampton this year, and if anyone asked me how I was the response was always along the lines of “just relieved to be in a place cooler and less humid than home”. Perhaps that was why I went far too quickly for any race plan I had thought about in the first 10km. Sure I knew the course very well as it was the 3rd time I had run here, but as I passed the 10km marker on the first of 2 laps I looked at the phone and shook my head at seeing a time close to the 56:30 marker. I hadn’t gone that fast in training over that distance at all that year, not that I was getting the quality runs over longer distances that others had, and I would have been content with a figure in the 58/59 minute bracket knowing I could probably comfortably run that at least until half distance. Indeed it wasn’t entirely easy to remember to continue going to the left of the course as I entered the race precinct and finish area for the first time knowing I had to cross the start line to begin the second lap. A glance at the clock saw me just outside the 2:05 range which was at the upper end of what I had wanted to achieve through the first half of the day (the aim was somewhere between 1:55 and 2:05), but I knew the second half due to not having had the quality or longer distance training runs would be tougher.

The pace did slacken off in the second half as the legs, particularly the left achilles began to ache without threatening to get any worse. Perhaps I was also overly conscious of getting fluid into the tank during the second half, as I spent probably a little too much time stopped at the drink stations taking in “sports drink” which was in essence fruit cup cordial. I did manage to keep some pace with a few of the other slower competitors as I was just trying to make occasional efforts without referring to the Strava app given the GPS had gone haywire (as seems to be the new norm when running routes for the first time in the year) adding kilometres to the actual distance. That said I was able to get some good mileage and race based training in which I think will help in the long term. The final time of 5:06:19 in the scheme of the race was largely irrelevant, it should be seen as 5:06:19 of training time for the big goal race coming in a matter of months.

I was a little worried about the post race refuelling, and the lack of solids that I seemed to consume compared to what fluids I guzzled down. The only things I had to eat for the entire day of the Wangaratta Marathon, both before and after, was a half a banana both before and after the race, a large chocolate sundae from McDonalds before heading on the bus back to Melbourne (blogger tip: book this train to Broadmeadows and get the public bus to Tullamarine to save big money if you’re booked on a same day flight, even if you have to buy a Myki before getting on board. Trust me you’ll save at least an hour too), a plate of something advertised as “Nasi Goreng with fried shallots” which suspiciously looked like fried rice in the airport lounge and a bag of chips before boarding the plane to the Gold Coast just before 8PM that night (I was hoping there would be something like a chicken sandwich to purchase, no luck). I probably overdosed on fluids post race consuming a Gatorade that I kept in the bag for an after race drink, a small 350mL carton of Chocolate Milk, a 600mL bottle of an orange drink which was closer to a mineral water than a soft drink…and a 1.25L bottle of coke which is something I haven’t purchased and consumed for many years. Not sure what the mindset was when purchasing that, but I’m back to the weight that I was earlier in the year so I guess everything’s relatively OK now.

Now it’s onto Port Macquarie, and my 3rd time running the Treble Breakwall Buster. More on that plan later this week as there are some changes that mean my approach has to change compared to previous years. It also signifies a week where I’ll want to up the weekly distances with South Africa getting closer, with the goal now being 60km a week through the next 4 weeks compared to 50 which I’ve hit several times in the first 2 months of the year. Pleasingly I’m about 92km ahead in terms of distance covered in training/racing as training compared to 2018, but I also know I need to find some 20km and 30km training runs rather than relying on race runs to get the big mileage that I want, even if it involves any number of walks which are a necessity in June.

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