So I just ran a marathon. Yep. 42.195km. I hope you can indulge me to tell you all about it (and to allow me to record my day).
Many of you know that I was embarking on this craziness this year. I have wanted to do one for years, having run a half marathon before. I tried a couple of time to get myself up for one, but got injured both times, so this was maybe my last attempt at giving it a go. My dodgy back had been good for quite a while now, so 2015 was looking like it could be it.
But it wasn’t just all me that got me psyched to give it a crack. My awesome bud Paul (aka @TheJacksonian) was a massive influence in convincing me that this could indeed be the year. So with some goading of each other on the last day of early bird registration, we were registered for our first marathons! Damn, what were we thinking!
So off we embarked on our respective journeys to the big day of October 18th. Given we live on opposite sides of the city, our training partnership was mostly in the motivational realms. Pounding the pavement was done in isolation, but there were always the emails of musings on running and Runkeeper to inspire each other. I even jetted over to Vilnius in Lithuania for a week for work and took my running shoes. It was all go!
I even popped in to The Running Company in Clifton Hill and had my gait analysed and got fitted for shoes. Chris and co were great and got me fitted in some Brooks runners that felt as light as air and running on pillows. I was set!
Then, boom. I got injured. I had worked my way up to 21km VERY nicely… I was running good times and feeling sweet. But a couple of days after that long run my right hip decided it was not happy. And not just the “I’m sore” type of not happy, but the “agony when even walking” not happy. I rested for a week and half and tried to run but alas I couldn’t even make the end of the street. Damn it. Damn it. Damn it. Not again.
I was pretty down. But Kate stepped in and talked me off the edge, got my head straight and got me into see her sports massage guru Gillian. I had to give it a go. Gillian weaved her magic, letting me know she didn’t think there was anything too wrong in there, and ironed me out. A few days later I was feeling not too shabby. Good enough to get a short run out. There was hope!
A series of deep massages got me feeling good and thinking that there might in fact be a marathon in 2015 after all. But there was only a bit over 2 months to get my training in. Yikes!
So I went at it. I walked the tightrope of wanting to get kms in my legs but not over doing it. The plan was shorter runs through the week (2 or 3 through the week) and a big one on the weekend, upping by about 4kms each weekend. The focus was on distance, not pace. Whereas my pace was pretty good before the injury, the training just became about doing the bloody thing! So it went.
Paul was making great progress and was full of awesome tales of progress and motivation. I was happy with how I was tracking and thinking that yep, this was looking like it would happen. Yes! We were on track! I got my distance up to 32km about 3 weeks before, right at the time to start to taper. Couldn’t have planned it better 🙂
As the taper was happening, the next calamity arrived. Paul injured his calf. Damn damn damn. With just a couple of weeks to go. He can share his stories, but it was not pleasant. I know partly how he felt… tracking well and then getting struck down. But this was late in the piece. But there was still hope after his physio didn’t rule him out completely. He was going to give it a crack! The dude is tough as nails.
And so we arrive to October 17th, the day before. I had been carb loading through the week and trying to get my body right. Kate and I met with Paul, Maria and Mia for dinner on the Saturday night and had a cool catchup to share our nerves and worries. We just wanted to get on with it! So we got home and I was off to bed by bout 9pm.
October 18th. THE BIG DAY! I slept right through and woke up at about 4:15am. Yep, early. But with a 7am start, and needing time to get some fluid and food in, as well as make our way in to the start, 5am was time to mobilise. Kate was dropping me in, and we also needed to pick up Essi, a Finnish research colleague of mine that was in Melbourne for a couple of weeks, and then I managed to convince to do the marathon! It didn’t need much convincing, since she had already done 2, but it was great to have another pal out there on the track. So Kate and I picked up Essi, got dropped off, and we met Paul.
Half an hour to go! Lots of nervous energy all around as we waited for the start. We started in the 4hr 30min pack, feeling that was our best, most realistic place. 7am… BOOM! The starting gun went off! A few minutes later we crossed the start line and we were away!
Essi was going to be tracking 5hrs, so she was happy to run solo. Paul and I had every intention to make the marathon experience a personal one, but we found that once the crowds thinned out a little, that we had a pretty similar comfortable pace.So it looked like we were running buddies. As it turned out, we were both feeling pretty comfy, and found the balance between getting a good start, but not overdoing it.So we settled on about a 5:30-5:45 min/kms.
Our run took us through the city, down St Kilda Rd, around Albert Park lake, through St Kilda, and then on to Beaconsfield Parade. We were cruising and feeling good! We kept remarking how we were tracking better than we expected by this point, averaging about 5:45 min/km.
This is a time to digress to my running music. I have been quite particular about the music I like to run to. I started with really heavy and punk music, and then moved to more groove based music. By groove, I like LONG grooves. So my playlist for today was:
1. LCD Soundsystem – 45:33
2. Battles – La Di Da Di
3. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – In Your Mind Fuzz suite
4. Beastie Boys – Selection of tracks
5. My Disco – Selection of tracks
6. LCD Soundsystem – My fave tracks… Losing My Edge, Yeah, and Us vs Them
This was my playlist for much of my training, and I didn’t get sick of it. I also tried running to exclusively the theme from the Cantina Band in Star Wars, but that is another strange story you can ask me about.
So back to today. I left you on Beaconsfield Parade at Port Melbourne. This is one stretch we were worried about. About 8km down to Elwood along the water. Great spot for running if the wind is kind, but typically it is not. So how was it? Just a mild headwind down to the turning point. Winner! Along the way too it was awesome to see so many people out cheering the runners on. I high fived about 50 kids over the day which was so cool.
We hit 30km as we got back to St Kilda Rd (heading up that pain of a hill on Fitzroy St). It was around here Paul struggled a bit. I was doing OK, and he wanted to drop the pace a touch, so urged me to run on. Knowing that it was about now we would both hit the wall, I took him up on that and ran while I was still feeling OK. I pushed down St Kilda Rd, and then on to the tan around the gardens. Then BOOM. It hit me. I was starting to flag.
It was about 36km and I was up against it. As I ran up the gradual incline, my right hip started to give me grief. Oh man. Not now! It was pretty painful. Not enough to make me stop, but enough for my pace to drop from about 6:15 min/km, to approaching 7. Just keep running! If I felt I needed spurring on, I just looked at my left which I had written “RUN!” on in sharpie. It was my motivation and nod to another of motivational coaches CC, who when I posed the question of the best way to get to the start line, simply replied “run you pussy”. Can’t argue with that logic! So I was tracking for about a 4hr 20min completion. Dig deep!
Anyway, I pushed on and soon enough I was on the last 2km! It was about then I felt a hand on my back and some motivational words… it was Paul! He had pushed through and was seemingly full of beans! He got me at just the right time to spur me on. I probably would have been a touch slower but he kept me moving. We made our way on to Brunton Avenue, and then in to the mighty MCG. We were there!
That lap of the ‘G is a blur. Paul was looking good, I was struggling a bit, but I kept up. And then we hit the finish line at exactly the same time. YES!!!!! We just completed marathon!!! And a 4hr 20min marathon no less!!!!
Oh man we were jazzed. We were ecstatic. Neither of us thought we would do it that quick. My goals for the day were:
2. Don’t walk
3. An optimistic 4hr 30min time.
We blitzed it! I think we were so full of adrenaline we couldn’t stop moving. Well, that and we were worried that if we did we wouldn’t be able to get up 🙂
Strangely after the finish line we were led down into the belly of the MCG for drinks and to get our medal. Was a bit odd to be led out of the stadium. We would have to come back to meet all the girls who were there cheering us.As for the medal, usually I’m not that into them (I haven’t kept my Around The Bay ones for example), but this will be a keeper me thinks.
So we headed out of the stadium. How to find the girls! I swung by the Team Monash tent and borrowed a phone and got hold of Kate. She was so pumped that we finished in that time, she was buzzing. So we organised to all meet outside the ‘G and recount our adventure.
So was that it? Time for rest right? Nope! It was time for a brew! We had well and truly earned it. So we wandered into the city and shacked up at Beer de Luxe and enjoyed a victory beer. It tasted sooooooo good.
With beer and food in our bellies it was time to call it a day with my running bud. We gave each other a big celebratory high five and pledged to share our aches and pains later in the week. My wonderful wife then proceeded to get me home.
So that’s it! I hope this wasn’t too rambling or boring. I just felt the need to blerch it all out, more so for future reference. After a bath and some rest I am feeling OK, although tomorrow morning is worrying me a little. I am imagining that everything will be seized up.
I don’t think I have any amazing words of wisdom or anything like that. I basically just put my mind to it and did it. That’s it. Kinda simple really. It takes discipline, and if you ask me what drives that discipline in me I really have no idea. If I say I’m doing something, then I’m gonna do it. So is another marathon on the list? Um, ask me later in the week…
P.S If you want to see the whole course and my times, check them out here! https://runkeeper.com/user/muttler/activity/676634423