The Perth Marathon had a 7:30am start this year, not too early, but it was bloody cold out! Around 2C as I set off, and you know it only gets colder at sunrise.
I had my traditional berry, chia and yoghurt smoothie and a banana about 5:30. Dinner previous was a nice pasta meal without overeating. I was wearing a new pair of long 2XU compression tights. I’d never run in them before, or even tried them on! I chose not to take music but did strap my phone on to my arm for emergencies. Four Gu Vanilla Bean gels, and my four bottle fuel belt with electrolytes. Having never run this race before, I erred in that, with it starting at the Western Australian Marathon Club offices, I could have worn warm sweats there and left a bag in the clubhouse, but instead I kept active, stretching and warming up to keep from shivering worse than I was.
We started off northbound from the clubhouse. The weeks leading up to the race had been a massive quandary for me. My previous marathon distance attempt (unofficial) was a major bonk. My target was 4:15 but I “ran” it in 4:53:30. Running my previous two races (a 10km and a half marathon in the last two months) through the online calculators told me I should be able to run this marathon in 3:54-4:02. My Yasso 800 trials said I could do the marathon in 3:50. So we’re talking AN HOUR faster than my previous attempt! That’s huge! Too huge? Therein lies the quandary. Do I still aim for my original 4:15 target? 25 minutes difference between my realistic goal and dream goal is a pace difference of 36 seconds per kilometer (5:27/km to 6:03/km). Oh the mental dramas I went through *lol*. If I aimed for my dream goal, the risk is bonking and not even making my realistic goal. In the end I decided to aim for a 5:50/km pace. If it felt too hard I could still drop down to my 4:15 finish hopefully without bonking, and if things felt good I should be able to break 4 hours.
The first kilometer was the typical mix of excitement and dodging the crowd. 5:47. Not too bad! And this is all area I know well, have run often. The next 6km’s ranged from 5:27 to 5:38 with an average of 5:31.5. Too fast! I tried to bring it down but just couldn’t until the 8th km. 5:43, 5:49, 5:43. That’s better. I let my mind go into cruise mode.
Maybe that was my mistake.
Evidently my body wanted to run faster. As I “cruised”, my speed ramped back up to 5:27-5:35/km. An average of 5:31.4 over the next 9 km (kilometers 11-19).
There was a route change at 20kms. rather than the flat, rivers edge path we’d been running (with the exception of two bridged river crossings), construction forced us on to surrounding suburban streets, and a long nasty hill that had most people walking. This slowed me back down to a 5:51/km but the downhill side km 21 was 5:28/km. At the half marathon point I was only about 1.5 minutes behind my HM PR, really, that’s too fast for a marathon pace.
My pace was starting to catch up with me now. At about 26.5 I finally dropped down to a walk break, which worried me, because to my thinking, once you take one break, it’s all downhill from there. It wasn’t a long one and I berated myself back into a run again which lasted until about km 28 where I had another short walk break. But this time I told myself I was going to break through this wall. And I did! I got another 4 km’s out of my tired legs before they gave way at almost exactly 32 km. The dreaded wall point. 32 km is about where your body runs out of fuel. To quote the Australian marathoner Rob de Castella, “The marathon’s about being in contention over the last 10K. That’s when it’s about what you have in your core. You have run all the strength, all the superficial fitness out of yourself, and it really comes down to what’s left inside you. To be able to draw deep and pull something out of yourself is one of the most tremendous things about the marathon.”
I bonked/failed. Badly.
Final time, 4:25:12. I should be happy! I took almost a half hour off my previous time! But I should have been able to hit 4:15, and if I’d run the tactical race I was supposed to, instead of letting my body run free, I would have, if not a four hour. Average pace for the last 10 km was 7:58.8/km as I walked most of it.
And to add insult to injury, as I was coming down the chute to the finish line, ahead of me was an older gentleman with three ladies running crew for him, going really slow and in obvious pain. A finishing time wasn’t on my mind at this point, just getting the race over with, and I tried to slow down to let him finish ahead of me, I really did! But I would have had to walk to do that and I was damned if I was going to walk across the finish line, so with no disrespect to him, I passed him and finished, only to find out that he’s 74 years old and has run all but two of the Perth City Marathon’s ever run. Yeah, I felt like a real heel
Oh, and that old chestnut about never try anything new on race day? Had some wonderful chafe marks inside my upper thighs from my compression tights!
In two months is the 2013 City to Surf marathon. It was the 2012 City to Surf 12km race that really kicked off my current running, and I look forward to running my marathon CORRECTLY this time. It’s a hillier course, but I will, I will, I WILL, run my planned race this time.