Category: Road Events
With a disappointing run in Sydney marathon four weeks ago I was more than determined to break my PB of 3:45:11, which I set two years ago in Sydney. I have never run two marathons within a month before so I was a little concerned about how my body would go but by all accounts the ITB trouble I had in Sydney was all but gone so I was hopeful.
I flew to Melbourne the Saturday before the event and spent the day collecting my race kit and walking around the city. I really love the culture of Melbourne. It has a much more laid back feel than Sydney and I find the people far more friendly and approachable. Later in the day I did my best to resist having a beer but the lure of a side–street pub got the better of me so I sat down for one sneaky beer. After that it was a little dinner and off to the hotel for an early night.
Morning of the race I was up early and hooked into my ritual fruity muffin and crappy instant coffee. After a good stretch it was off to start line. Along the way the wind was absolutely howling and quite overcast, which was a little disappointing given I haven't run a good weather event all year. Any way, I had to suck it up and get my head in the game if I was going to break this PB!
A few minutes before the start I felt calm but completely empty. The last time I was here it was my first ever marathon and my biggest cheerleader was with me. Now, being back here alone for the first time was pretty tough to deal with. Same feelings as Sydney but a little worse. When the starter's gun fired I did my best to snap out of it and get my head in the game.
I managed to get across the start line in about 1 minute, which was pretty good given the number of runners. Heading through the city in a sea of runners was enough to get the adrenaline running and get my race face on. For the first 10ks through the city and park lands I felt quite tired, both physically and mentally. I hoped I would come good after 10k as I typically do but by the time I reached 15k along the St Kilda waterfront and didn't feel any better, I knew I was in for a tough race.
Pressing on along the St Kilda waterfront I dug in deep, accepted my tired legs and just focussed on the next kilometre. The next 10k along the waterfront wasn't too bad. I actually felt better at this point than I did in Sydney, which was an interesting change. This feeling really picked my hopes up as well as my focus on holding a good pace.
Turning around at 25k and heading back toward the city I prepared for hitting the wind head–on. From 30k onwards the head wind was brutal and knocked about 20 seconds a kilometre off my pace. I did my best to hold a low 5 minute pace but the wind was really knocking me around and I was scared of blowing up too early.
By the 35th kilometre I was able to rain my pace back in to 5:10 but quickly faded the next 2kms to a race low of 5:47. I knew at this point I had to finish strong or throw away breaking my PB. With 5k to go it was all or nothing. I calculated that if I kept my pace a squeak under 5:30 for the final 5k I would break my time so that was the plan.
Clicking over 38kms I was head first into the wind again and this really sucked. My legs were completely wrecked but my mind was determined so I just kept going. Kilometre 39 I actually lifted my pace a little to 5:22, which I was really pleased with. Seeing the marker for kilometre 40 was such a relief and agony that I still had 2.2 more kilometres to go. Kilometre 41 everything was screaming, even my mind was gone.
Now with 1km to go the crowd of supporters started to thicken up and they just cheered so loud for everyone that it was hard not to drive home. It was the perfect lift I needed to get it done. I quickly checked my watch and saw if I held it together the PB was mine. Seeing the entry to the MCG almost made me cry because I knew it was only a half lap around the stadium to go. With the finish line now in sight I saw the official counter and knew I had it in the bag. I crossed the line with one last push and all but collapsed from sheer exhaustion. I did it! I broke my PB! It wasn't by much but I broke it all the same. To say I was happy would be a complete understatement.
Heading down the finisher's tunnel I just kept moving. My legs were seconds from seizing up so stopping wasn't an option. I grabbed my finisher's medal and made the very slow hobble back to my motel. I only had a little moment when I realised again that there was no on waiting for me at the finish but I quickly shook it off and reminded myself that all my effort and training had finally paid off. Now it was time to tub up and have a long boozy afternoon in one of the best cities in Australia.
My afternoon was pretty awesome. I headed down the the Yarra and found a pub with a great burger for lunch. I also got chatting to a few random people and had a few recovery beers before heading on to the next pub. This went on for a couple hours around the city before heading to the southern side of the Yarra and stopping in at a little Italian bar. I ended up meeting a couple of locals who were the funniest guys I'd met in a long time. The three of us had a few beers, picked on people walking by and told off lazy bar staff. It was the perfect finish to the afternoon. After leaving these guys I headed back into the city to a little curry house I love and completely pigged out on vindaloo and cheesy naan. With a very full belly I made the short walk back to my hotel and crashed. Boy did I sleep.
The next morning it was off to a little cafe for breaky and then down to the Yarra for a recovery cigar while resting on a park bench. Looking at the time I needed to head back and get packed up for my flight home. About halfway back to the hotel I realised I left my wallet on the park bench. I completely freaked out and ran, albeit hobbled, back as quickly as I could. To my astonishment it was still there. Massive thank you Lord moment! I now hobbled back again as I was running late for my flight. Thankfully I made it to the airport with a few minutes to spare and arrived home safe and sound.
Such an epic trip filled with many highs and lows. Honestly can't wait to do it all again next year—minus the little wallet incident!
Race day stats: