Melbourne Marathon 2014 – Race Report

I’d been looking forward to this weekend for a long time and it didn’t disappoint.

Phill and I flew into Melbourne on Saturday afternoon and I spent some time walking around the city, met my godfather and his wife for a coffee and picked up 4 energy gels for the race. I went for endura as it was a choice of that or Gu in Rebel Sport and endura is a bit runnier and easier to get down without fluid.

I set my alarm for 4am as I heeded WatchDog’s advice of not needing a pee at the start line which often happens for me. So i probably had about 500 mls of water and a bowl of museli and yoghurt in 30 seconds and then went back to bed until my alarm went off at 6am. All i then had was a small cup of coffee before jogging down to the start line.

The weather was cool with highs expected of 28 later in the afternoon.

I made my way to the preferred starters section and had a quick chat with Gary Mullins whist we waited anxiously for the start.

My plan was to hit half way in 1 hour 16 minutes and 30 seconds. I knew I would likely fade in the back half but I desperately wanted to break 2.35.

My nutrition plan was 4 gels to be consumed at 7 kilometers, 15 kilometers, 24 kilometers and 30 kilometers. No science to that, just something i decided on the start line.

Before I knew it we were off. I soon found myself running in a small group with the lead female at the time, Sinead Diver. Its a known fact that women pace better than men so I thought it wouldn’t do me any harm trying to stick with Sinead given our pace was similar.

The first 5 km’s ticked by in 18.06 according to garmin which ended up overshooting by 300 meters in the end which seems to be the norm.

The next 5 km’s were slightly quicker, 17.51 but there didn’t appear to be any noticeable increase in pace. I was making sure to grab water at every aid station. Water and hydralyte was being handed out in small plastic cups. When you are running at pace the most you can hope to successfully retrieve is a small gulp as the majority is list in the handover! Because of that, i really couldnt have had much more than 300 ml’s over the course of the race.

The next 5 kilometers went by in 17.52 and so far so good. At times I remember looking at my watch and thinking I must be flying along and then seeing my average pace hovering around 3.45’s! Not a great feeling. Whilst I was still moving well I could definitely notice some tightness in the legs.

My garmin beeped at the 21.1km mark and showed a time of 1hr 15 minutes 30 seconds however I crossed the official half marathon signage on the course pretty much dead on 1 hour 16 and 30 seconds. This gave me a boost although I was hoping that things would be feeling a little easier at this stage – truth be told I was starting to hurt. This is evident as my 5 kilometer split from 20 – 25 was 18.15.

During this stage we were overtaken by Nikki Chappel who went on to dominate the womens race and win comfortably. I remember noticing the definition in her hammys as she ran past, pretty impressive! I didn’t even bother trying to hang on to her pace, that would have been suicidal.

The 25 – 30 kilometer split was 18.12 and the small pack I was running with started to drift apart. I was now trailing Sinead and she was beginning to stretch the elastic!

I hit my lowest point going through the 30 – 35 kilometer section. I entertained thoughts of pulling out or at least walking through the drink stations. I was really struggling. That 5 kilometer split was 18.18 so a significant slow down.

Now it was game on. I had to think back to all the hard sessions i’ve done, did I really want to give up now. Sinead was still only 20 meters or so in front of me. Having her there gave me something to concentrate on. But boy was I hurting!

My slowest split of the day was between 35 – 40 kilometers. 18.48. I was doing everything in my power to keep my splits under 4 minutes.

Then with 2.2 kilometers to go life became good again and I was able to lift myself out of my funk knowing I would make it. The goal now was to see if I could sneak in under 2.35 which thankfully I managed to do – 2 hours, 34 minutes and 35 seconds. Job done!

I then spent the day walking around Melbourne with Phill and she clocked up over 25,000 steps on her fitbit so that was a decent cool-down for me!

Achieving this time has given me hope that a 2.2x is doable in the not too distant future. I can’t keep doing what i’m doing though. There’ll be some training changes, probably the main change being my easy runs carried out at an easier pace and my quality runs done with more quality!

The next attempt will be to target 2.32 but I’ve no idea when I’ll have the chance to do that as my life is going to change dramatically next April as a mini-me or mini-phill is on it’s way. That being said, I have a chance of giving 6ft Track a real go and it’ll be nice to get back on the trails again.

With Gary at the finish. Goals hit. Happy chappies!

With Gary at the finish. Goals hit. Happy chappies!


Melbourne Marathon Pre Race Thoughts

So the Melbourne Marathon is almost here. I’m a mixture of excited and nervous,  but that’s a good thing.

The goal at the start of the year was to dip under 2 hours 40 minutes. My fitness after C2K took a nosedive as I took so much need R&R. My first race back  was the Iron Cove 14 kilometer race in March. Essentially a nice flat course and I had to work so hard to average 3.49’s per kilometer. I remember thinking straight after that race that there was no chance in hell that I’d be going under 2hours 40 in Melbourne.

However, over time the fitness increased and my muscle memory improved and I’m now in the position to believe that anything in the range of 2 hours 33 – 2 hours 36 minutes is possible. This is backed up by my 1 hour 13 half marathon in August in which I finished with a bit still left in the tank.

My training goal leading into this marathon was to average 100 kilometers a week. This hasn’t happened. Over the last 16 weeks, excluding October (taper time!) the average has been 83 kilometers a week. However, compared to 2012 where I ran my last PB of 2 hours 41, I’ve run a lot of these training kilometers at marathon pace or faster. In 2012 I also only averaged 70 kilometers a week so there is an improvement all round here.

The plan on Sunday is to keep it simple. I intend to tick off the early kilometers at 3.36 – 3.38 pace and really just try to hold on to that pace for as long as humanly possible. The course looks as though it becomes “hilly” after 30 kilometers which just so happens to be when the marathon starts to hurt – so I’ll be looking forward to seeing how much pain I can tolerate.

I’m fit however my fear is of cramping up in the later stages due to the lack of mileage. I’d be more confident going in with an average of 110 kilometers a week but that will be for another time and there isn’t much I can do about that now.

As long as I don’t do anything silly I should be ok….

Sri Chinmoy Half Marathon – Iron Cove

This week was mainly about keeping the legs fresh for the half marathon pb attempt on Sunday. I was conscious of ensuring I had fully recovered from Glenbrook Marathon so for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday I just run easy, monitoring the heart rate and ensuring I was staying in my aerobic zone.

On Thursday I thought I should hit the park and see what I could do in terms of intervals. I haven’t done any interval training in a long long time but on the bus home from work I had decided that 3.10’s per kilometer with a 2 minute rest would be a fair effort.

So a 2 kilometer warm up and I was straight into it. I planned on 6 reps as I didn’t want to overcook myself and to be honest I dont think I could hold that pace for any more reps. They went like this:

3.10, 3.08, 3.08, 3.08, 3.09, 3.09

So really consistent but definitely an effort. The hear rate averaged 180 for the last 3 efforts so it was right up there. In fact I thought I would explode trying to get under 3.10 on the last one.

I took Saturday off and spent most of the day convincing myself that I would run well during the Half.

I was up at 6.45am this morning, had a quick cup of tea and some wheetbix and arrived at the race hub by 7.30 to register and warm up. It was a nice cool and drizzly morning, perfect for running. My warm up consisted of standing around rubbing my hands. I considered actually running but thought I’d just save myself. I felt like a coiled spring.

My pre-race plan was to firstly get a PB – so go under 78 minutes; secondly to try and hit 75 minutes which is where I should be if I want 2.36 in Melbourne and then finally I had been convincing myself to just go out and try and hit 3.30’s for each kilometer for as long as possible for a stretch goal of 73 minutes.

Being a Sri Chinmoy event its all really low key and great value for money. The course is 3 laps of The Bay. Not standard laps as to make 7 kilometers a lap runners need to go around the park in one spot rather than staying on the concrete. I knew this would slow the pace a little as it was boggy and slippery.

The route is open to the public too so plenty of dodging other runners and pram pushers. But thats all part of the experience.

We had to do the extra 100 meters or so at the start to get the .1 in the 21.1 race distance.

Before long we were off and I was running behind a kid for about 500 meters!! I couldn’t quite believe it, I looked at my watch and were running 3.05’s so I eased off and let him go then caught him again after he died on his arse.

This will be a short race report as it all went to plan. I had a mantra in my head which sounds a bit daft but since losing my ipod a couple of months ago I’ve got to think about stuff when I’m running to occupy my mind. So the mantra was: Relax, Maintain, Surge. Given it was 3 laps each part of the mantra was related to each lap. The first lap was all about relaxing into the run and not going bonkers, the 2nd lap was just about maintaining the pace and the last lap was where i’d push.

That’s more or less what happened. Given the people dodging I didn’t do a great job of running the perfect race line so the garmin showed 21.36 kilometers and saw me running through the half mark in 72 minutes! However it could just be that my garmin was out so the official time was 73.42 which I was delighted with. Stretch goal achieved and I crossed the line feeling good.

Mcmillans running calculator predicts that with the right training that my time is the equivalent of a 2.33 marathon. The key part here being the ‘right training’. I know my mileage is way off and could cause some issues in the later stages of the marathon but we’ll see what happens on the day.

74.54 kilometers for the week. No wonder I feel so fresh! My last week hitting 100 kilometers was an anomaly on May 19th.

Glenbrook Marathon – Race Report

This years event was my fourth time participating in the marathon. The first year I DNF’d at 18km’s after falling hard on my hip. The 2nd time was the really hot year with a few bonus km’s, i survived to a 3rd place. Last year was in cooler conditions and I entered the race as part of my build up to C2K, so no taper and tired legs. I was fortunate enough to win that in 3hrs 15.

This year my target was to run better than last year and aim to go under 3 hours. Not so easy on trails with 800M+ of climbing. However, my marathon training had been going well albeit with limited running on trails and hills, and I was tapered more due to my lazy nature than purposefully tapering for this event.

The nutrition plan was 3 gels and my bottle of water. Take a gel every 10km’s, simples.

It was a nice cool morning in Glenbrook, perfect for running. At the start I noticed a couple of gun runners in the marathon in the form of Andy Lee and Matty Abel. I imagined they would be the guys to beat.

Knowing my strengths don’t lie on the technical single track but rather on the smoother fire trail my rough tactic was to be within 2 minutes of Andy Lee after exiting the single track section after Red Hands Cave. I thought if he was any further in front he’d be way too hard to catch.

The start was pretty comfortable as we made our way around the campsite and heading into the climb out of the site I was tucked into 3rd place behind Andy and a 25km runner. Andy and I went back and forth a little towards the Mt Portal turnaround and then he shot off going heading down into the single track. He was slowly stretching the elastic on me and I kept telling myself that it was ok to let him go. I was pushing it through here though but it was good fun and every now and then I caught a glimpse of Andy in the distance. This had me feeling good as I calculated that he was probably never more than 30 seconds in front.

After exiting the single track after 14km or so there is a nice long stretch of fire trail. I had anticipated that this would be where I start making up ground on Andy but the opposite happened. He was getting further and further away from me. I was also hurting. My legs just wouldn’t respond and I was going much slower than my perceived effort levels. This was really frustrating. Andy was out of sight and there wasn’t much I could do.

I gained confidence from going through 21.1km’s in 1hr 30 exactly knowing that the hardest and slowest part of the course was out of the way. This gave me a boost knowing that I could potentially break 3 hours if I continued on at my current pace (if the course was a true 42.2km marathon….).

At the Nepean turnaround at 23km’s I calculated that Andy was 400 meters in front. So all was not lost. I also made sure to measure how far back 3rd place was. It turned out to be James Sweeney about 1.7km’s back and moving well.

The day was warming up and I took advantage of all the dew on the branches as I ran down to the Pisgah turnaround. I’ve now got a lovely bruise on my eyelid from a stray twig! This out and back was another opportunity to see how far in front Andy was and fortunately it was still about 400 meters. However James was now 2km’s back so 2nd place was looking secure.

After exiting the Pisgah trail I now had 32km’s in the legs and I was really starting to seize up and i was not running well at all. I blew out both calves during the week on a run home as I was messing about landing on my forefoot in my minimus trainers. bad idea. they are still screaming now as I type this.

Pain was shooting up my legs and into my hips and glutes. From 32 – 37km the trail is a gradual uphill and I really struggled. I even walked for 20 seconds at one stage and had resigned myself that there was no chance of catching Andy. I hadn’t caught any glimpses of him whatsoever since the Pisgah turnaround which was disheartening.

As luck would have it, some of the other runners who were heading the other way to complete the Pisgah trail told me that Andy wasn’t too far ahead and I could catch him. It’s always hard to know what to believe but I told myself that I came to race and I came to hurt so just man up and have a go.

At the 37km mark Marcus Warner (Ultra168) also said that Andy wasnt too far ahead so it was game on. However by now I was really starting to cramp. I was getting flashbacks from TNF100 last year when I couldn’t stop cramping. Such a frustrating feeling as the brain wants to run but the cramping makes it impossible.

I managed to settle into a rhythm where I was just on the edge of cramping and there in the distance Andy’s green shirt came in to sight. I tried to lift my pace but the cramps said no. So I just calmed down and chipped away and Andy was getting closer and closer. We passed each other at around the 41km mark and Andy was as gracious as ever and gave me a pat on the back. I tried to encourage him that we could both break 3 hours but he was also seizing up and cramping – i was just fortunate enough that my pace was ever so slightly quicker.

I passed the marathon mark in 2hrs 56 and I thought that it would be a tough call to get in under 3 hours now if the course was as long as last year (43.6km’s) which I had anticipated it would be.

I tried as best as I could but I just couldn’t open up. In the end I crossed the line in 3hrs 1 minute to shave 14 minutes off my previous team. Gotta be happy with that. Andy wasn’t too far behind and came home in 3.03 also well under my old course record.

It’s fair to say if Andy wasn’t running hard from the front I wouldn’t have had the motivation to try and catch him and I wouldn’t have run the time that I did. So it was great having him there.

RunningWild put on a great event and I’d love to come back again to try and get under 3 hours. This could be my nemesis just like Fitzroy Falls Marathon!

Having been road running for the majority of this year I’d forgotten how much energy techy trails take out of you in comparison to road running. It’s completely different and next time I enter a trail event I’ll definitely earn my stripes first by training on the trails.

Fast week

This Saturday i decided on the day to just head out the door at around marathon pace and just see what happens. My theory is that its much easier to hold a pace than start off really slowly then ease into a faster pace. It seems if I just do it from the off then it feels much easier.

Anyway thats more or less what happened. Ran a few loops of the local roads then went down to the water and ran up and down some trails. Hit the half marathon mark in 78 minutes which equals my PB. This felt a lot more comfortable than when I set it a couple of years back so that was positive. After that point I started to suffer on hills and slowed considerably. No gels or anything so i’m comforted that on the day i’ll be taking on board fuel. 30 km’s all up in 1hr 54 (3.48’s).

This session now has me thinking that I should have a crack at going for a 2.36 time at Melbourne. If I can comfortably run a 78 half in training then I should be able to replicate this in a race. We’ll see

Sunday I joined Phill for a hot yoga session. My legs felt fine from the previous days effort but after yoga they were sore! It was just a beginners class but that was enough for me. Great workout. I’m incredibly inflexible and tight and could barely do any of the moves. My legs were aching for the remainder of the day. Late in the afternoon I went out for an easy 10km. Started off nice and slow and then sped up a little towards the end. 39.39 (3.58’s).

95.76 kilometers for the week in 6hrs 37 which is pretty much exactly the same as last week. Happy days

3 x (400m,800m,1600m) no rest

Thursday is interval day and the plan called for a repeat of last week.

15 minutes warming up and then straight into it. 3 lots of 400m,800m,1600m with no rest at all.

Last weeks session in black, this weeks in red.

  • 81(3.22’s), 2.50(3.44’s), 5.49(3,39’s)
  • 72(3.00’s), 2.44(3.26’s), 5.36(3.31’s)
  • 80(3.20’s), 2.46(3.28’s), 5.45(3.36’s)
  • 78(3.15’s), 2.43(3.25s), 5.38(3.32’s)
  • 78(3.15′), 2.42(3.23’s), 5.32(3.28’s)
  • 76(3.12’s), 2.46(3.28’s), 5.26(3.24’s)

The first 400 meters hurt and may have been a little too quick but i recovered ok. Much better pacing than last weeks. Quicker than last week too. Not sure its fitness related, I think I was just pushing it a bit harder.

Overall 14.5km in 58.44 (4.03’s). With 10km this morning thats 24km for the day.

The knee has been excellent this week. I saw a physio on Monday who really worked on the muscles around it. He couldnt believe how tight and unflexible I am. He was knackered afterwards. Instant relief though. Seeing him again next Monday.

Fitzroy Falls Marathon – Race Report

I was planning on going into this years race after a pretty intense couple of weeks of training. Unfortunately that never happened for 2 reasons:

1) On the Monday after Glenbrook Marathon I had a recovery run home after work and felt pretty good. Tuesday called for a hill session – after 3 or 4 repeats of going down hard for 1km my right knee started getting sore – in the same place as my left knee from a couple of months back. Stupidly I persisted and finished off the 5 sets and then ran off home but after 18km’s I had to call it quits as the pain wasnt settling – It definitely felt like inflammation of the bursa so more running would really flare it up. I called Phill and she picked me up.

I took the Wednesday off running and resumed again on Thursday. I ran to work and did the old run for 1km, walk for a bit and run for 1km and so on. I made it in but it wasnt right. I then attempted to run home from work but ended up jumping on a bus after 5km. The knee needed a break. So I took a full week off running to let it settle down completely and I hit the gym in the meantime. Not ideal prep for C2K but i’m ok with that.

2) After a great long weekend I went to bed on Monday night and just couldn’t sleep. My guts felt strange. Without going into details I spent the night on the couch writhing around in pain and then started throwing up in the morning. At 5am Phill decided that she would also join in, so we spent Tuesday at home both throwing up etc. We think it was bad tofu or something. Not great.

Wednesday was another rough day but I dragged myself into work and by Thursday morning I was probably at 70%. Excited to test out my knee I ran home from work gingerly and had no problems and then on Friday I did a slightly longer run – if I felt even a twinge in my knee I wouldn’t be going to Fitzroy Falls. Fortunately the knee was ok.

This was to be my 3rd Fitzroy Falls race having run it as my first ever marathon in 2010 and then again in 2011. I surprised myself in 2010 by coming in 2nd with 3.09 and then I ran a 3.02 in 2011.

This year I was hoping to break 3 hours but most  importantly I was hoping that I’d just be able to finish the race.

There were just over 100 runners this year and before long we were off. I quickly settled into 3rd place behind Paul Cuthbert with Brendan Davies pulling away quickly from the start. I remembered the race becoming quite hard in the 2nd half so I wanted to try and bank enough time in the first half.

Paul and I were back and forth a little and at one stage he was about a minute in front but I pulled away from him as we hit a section of steep track.

The day was largely uneventful. I took the first of 2 gels at the 16km mark.

I hit the halfway mark in around 87 minutes which I thought gave me a good shot at breaking 3 hours.

Shortly after here that was an out and back and Brendan was probably a couple of minutes in front and Paul was a couple of minutes behind me. I had been feeling really good and I still felt strong until the climb out of the out n back. Man, it wiped me out. Sadly I had to walk some of it but only a small section, I was wary of Paul.

I really started to fade after 28km’s. I’m not sure why but I was beginning to feel very ordinary. I ate my 2nd gel and plodded on. On the 2nd out and back Brendan was still just a couple of minutes ahead and Paul was about the same distance behind again, so even though I was feeling horrible I hadnt lost too much in placings, but I was beginning to feel that sub 3 was slipping away.

This sounds like a sob story but from then on my mental state faded and I had to take about 3 more 10 second walk breaks to compose myself. My time was falling apart too – I was defeated. I was convincing myself that I would still be happy with 3rd place and I was hoping that Paul would run past so I could just ease off the gas – I knew 4th place was quite a way back.

This isnt a great attitude to take as you get into a downward spiral. But it happens now and again.

I got to the 35km mark and I was playing the usual mind games with myself. I tell myself that its only 5 more km’s to go as once your at 40km’s you are practically home etc etc.

At around the 37km mark there is a long stretch of fire trail and I turned around and caught a glimpse of Paul. Damn! He was closing in, just what I was expecting. For a split second I considered just walking until he passed me so I could relax but that was really just a split second thought. I thought I’d just do what I can and if I can hold him off until 3km’s to go then I may still have a shot.

As it happens Paul was having similar thoughts (we had a chat after) and in the end I had a few minutes cushion.

So I made it in 3.04 and Brendan ran strongly to take the win in 2.58.

Interestingly I went through the half way mark 1 minute quicker than in 2011 but  I  was 2 minutes slower.

This is a great little race with a really good vibe. The burgers at the end are brilliant! I’ll definitely be back to try and break 3 hours again, I’ve just got to toughen up.

Fortunately the knee held up but I had soreness in my left knee under the knee cap. Pretty standard though. Anyway, I’d say this was a successful run.

As a result, I had a recovery run to Balmoral beach this morning. Stinking hot day, 36 degrees. The right knee was ok so hopefully  I  can resume training proper today. The plan for today called for 50km’s but that clearly wasn’t going to happen.

So the next 4 weeks ( as long as I can stay out of trouble) should be pretty heavy in terms of mileage which i’m looking forward to.

I hear Ewan is training heavily and is in excellent form for C2K. I wouldn’t expect anything less. I’m pretty excited about duelling it out with the grandmaster in less than 2 months time!