Melbourne Marathon – 12th in 2:32

Melbourne Marathon – 12th in 2:32

Melbourne Marathon – 12th in 2:32

Nearly 3 min off the PB but very positive I left little out on the course.

The MCG is the place to be mid-October and this year a good dozen (or more) headed south on Jetstar for the 10k, 21.1k and 42.2k.

Howling winds and then Trinity hogging the bed. That just makes me more nervous as I roll out at 6am to meet LJ and Neil in the Lobby for the walk down to the start. When there’s a 50km/h northerly, the strategy changes:

– find a pack and hide behind the biggest guy
– forget time goals because the back half will be slow

Build-up has been mixed. Great training block in September, then signs of faltering health in October. In fact, race day would be my first post-gastro run in 4 days. It’s only on the jog to the MCG that give myself the ‘all clear’ to race. Race plan then evolves in the change-room: board the 2:30 train that should take me through 21.1k in sub 75. Neil, Brendan Davies, Alex Rogers, Truscott and Robin Vonk (maybe) should be with me at the 26k turn.

Over at the start, I’m cold and nervous and so is the rest of HuRTS team – Lambert, Elle, Jeet, Kiwi Mike, LJ.

Before I know it, it is 7am and we are off. I’m in pack #3, southbound at sub 3:30s and rubbing shoulders with Neil, Davies, CT and exactly 4 others. We are moving well, there’s some banter but we all know why it feels easy (i.e. tailwind).

5k in 17:11. Right on pace, no signs of stomach cramps.

Swing right, then right again at Albert Park. How quickly easy turns to bloody hard. 8 homeless guys take shelter in a storm for a good 3k. We get through it and my key lesson is to stay mid-pack to the left. Need to conserve energy for later.

Downwind, Neil and a guy from SA (Bishop) put the hammer down. I’m constantly fighting to stay in touch. Pace is back to 3:30s, which hurts more than it did before Albert Park.

10k in 35 flat. We share a few nods noting the perfect 3:30s.

A long slug down to St Kilda preparing for 4k north. Same as Albert Park, but harder because you are near the beach. I shamelessly draft again leaving Bishop, Neil and Davies drive the train. It’s too much for poor CT and Rogers – both are spat out unceremoniously. At the 17k turn, we’re down to 5. Leaders, maybe 2-3 min in front?

Next 10k is all about banking time. We know this, push hard and now the doubts start to mount. Is this sustainable?

Half way in 74 flat. Doing the maths, if the wind disappears I can do 2:30.

South of St Kilda, I sense the pace eases and put the captain hat on for 60s. Two guys follow but neither of them are from NSW… Neil and Davies are dropped. Switch back arrives, train is down to 2 (Bishop and I) and we chase down Chris O’Neil who fell off the 2:26 group. He catches a ride for a good 50m, then dies.

When the CBD skyline is 15k to the north, and there’s now at 55km/h wind in your face, I enter survival mode and think:

– stay with Bishop because he looks strong
– turn off the watch, write off the 2:30 and forget the 3:50s splits

It’s sort of like a 60 min urgo in the gym – head down, grind away at a consistent output. Like everyone, this is my low point mentally and physically.

30k in 1:46:40. Why isn’t that skyline coming closer?

Back on St Kilda Road with <10k to go, I get some good shout outs: Tiger, then LJ’s boyfriend Wol riding a push bike. Here, my dreaded stomach starts complaining and perhaps the lack of portaloos in Botanic Gardens saved me 45s. Legs are toast, mind is wandering and here I’m just blindly chasing a red singlet.

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Deep down I just know 2:30 is lost. Birchy, running the half, screams out twice with 500m to go. Back on the track, the mind is fuzzy but I know there’s one last battle. I literally pat Bishop on the back, say ‘thanks’ and lurch forward with survival instinct replaced by that of a killer. The outcome is sprint race in slow motion. 1 second victory after 2:30 of drafting. He’s a good sport.

Here is the moment, captured on Lorie’s phone.

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2.32.02, 3:35 min/km ave pace. 12th place.

Knackered, but satisfied knowing (i) my tank is empty, and (ii) body has held through 3 marathons in 2016. Whilst I’m normally a negative split runner, today’s 4 min positive split (74/78) is forgivable because on the same effort, downwind was 3:25-3:30 vs upwind pacing 3:50s.

Slower field today – just 10 inside 2:30 and just 2:21 for Do Canto who I thought could go sub 2:18. Matt Cox and Jack both told me they were dropped in the last 5k.

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Splits by 5km. It’s obvious that the 30-40k segment cost me a good time.

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At the chute and later at the pub, I realise everyone was in the hurt locker and few came out unscathed. Consensus is the wind was a 2-2.5 min handicap in the half, and 4-5 min in the full. In the half, great runs from Erika (84 flat) and model dad Sammy J (87). In the full, Neil (2:37), Kiwi Mike (2:40), Vonk (2:42), Jeet (2:55), LJ (2:55) and Biggsy (<3 hrs) can all be super proud. Personally I think Chairman (74) did well to hold off a female Olympian (Eloise) and Elle should be happy with 3:11. Tough days at the office for CT, Lambert, Timmy and Birchy. Sometimes, finishing is fine.

Felt a little wobbly, thirsty and eventually, hungry after the race. Two things to do:

– Eat breakfast, preferably eggs and salmon at the best cafe in Melbourne, Hardware Societe (tick)
– Join HuRTS at the pub for war stores (tick)

Many thanks to Lorie and Trinity for patiently waiting at the MCG.

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A mountain of scrambled eggs and cured trout with a pancake underlayer.

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LJ, Elle, Lambert, Elle’s +1 and I. Only one of us did not run 42.2k.

Three marathon survivors – myself, LJ, Elle.

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Myself with Timmy and Chairman. All in blue.

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