I went into this race with absolutely no idea of how I’d go. I left with a PB. Gotta be happy with that!
Waking the kids at 4am was always going to make an interesting start to the day. They handled it very well – just like any other day for them. We got down to the Southport race venue with more than an hour to the start. The roads were almost deserted and we had our pick of the parking spaces. For a few moments I wondered if I’d got the day wrong! 30mins in the car with the heater on, the kids on their DS’s and me on my iPhone. Life is easy these days!
I’d been telling everyone I was going to cruise the race, and was expecting to come in around 1:45. In truth, I wasn’t sure if 1:45 would be too easy, or an impossible task. Four weeks off running had left me unsure of how good my calf was, and unsure of how much fitness remained. I made a note of the balloon colour and pace for the pace runners from 1:30 to 1:50. My race plan was on my arm!
Please note that, not only does the camera add 10 pounds, but it also adds swarthiness!
The last time I did this race, I lined up halfway down the field. It was a battle for the first few km, with much weaving and surging (and perhaps a few muttered curses), before I could get into a steady rhythm. As I approached the start-pens this time, I saw the 1:24 balloon and the 1:30 balloons quite near the front. I jumped the fence between them and subconsciously set my target for the day: see how long I could hang with the 1:30 balloon. When the gun went off I was over the line in 12 seconds and almost immediately onto a steady pace.
I didn’t like running with the balloon pack at all! We were a huge group that spread from one side of the road to the other, swallowing slower runners and spitting out those that couldn’t hold on. Within the pack, some would surge to the front and then slowly drop pack, then surge again back to the front. Others would sit out wide like outriggers, hugging the gutters. Concentration was required and I couldn’t find my own pace. After 5km I moved ahead into clear air and looked to run a steady 4:12min/km pace, which would keep me just ahead of the swarm.
My “glass” right calf was fine for the entire race. But at 7km my left calf started hurting. It was more of a “strain” pain than a cramp pain, but I was worried that cramp might be a factor later in the race after such a big layoff, so I stopped for a sports drink.
My drink strategy, used at 7km and 14km, was to grab a cup, run to the end of the drink table, and then walk while I drank. Surprisingly, I never saw anyone else walking and drinking. Unlike triathletes, these runner-types must be expert run/drinkers! I’m a guaranteed side-stitch if I try to drink whilst running.
I forgot about the calf until 15km, when it gave me another, rather strong reminder. I briefly pondered stopping and walking, but wasn’t sure if that was my mind looking for an excuse to stop running! I decided to press on for a bit and see how it went. Within 500m I’d forgotten all about it. Being absent-minded is a bonus in these situations!
Somewhere around the last 5km, holding a 4:12 min/km pace required less of a gentle mental reminder, and more of a stern talking-to. It was time to push it home but cramp was lurking. I upped my pace slightly, and that, combined with lots of people slowing down, allowed me the morale-boost of picking my way through a few hundred more bodies before hitting the finish mat in 1:28:13. A new PB by more than 5 minutes!
I do wonder what might have been, but I’m very happy with that time. I’ve crossed my sub 1:30 goal off and was still able to walk after the race!
Thanks Gold Coast Marathon for a great event, done very well indeed!
NB. Garmin GPS file here.