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Better than expected

Sunday, 9 June 2013

I got up at 5am to give myself two hours before the Macleay River Marathon started at 7am.  I was determined not to drink anything after 6am and just had a slice of toast and jam as food.  A problem for all marathoners is balancing the risk of a full bladder and bloated stomach against the hydration and energy needs of a marathon.  I don’t think I did a good job before the Canberra Marathon in April, so decided to cut back significantly on both for this race.  Of course, I only decided on Thursday to run this race and had run an arduous 30km on Wednesday, so I never had any illusions that I would run a fast time, but perhaps that is the best time to try new approaches to pre-race nutrition.

Having my timing chip removed after the Macleay River
I resolved to fight off any urges to go out hard and, when the gun fired, found myself at the back of the field as it climbed a modest hill away from the beach.  It took 2-3km to warm up and then I started to work my way through the field, constantly reminding myself that I did not want to start “racing” and wanted to reach the half-way turnaround feeling like I still had plenty left.  That is pretty much what happened, though my pace was marginally faster than a number of people in front of me and I was very gradually catching people all of the time.  Although every kilometre was marked, I had also resolved not to worry at all about my time.  I estimated that I was in shape to run between 3:20 and 3:40, but did not have a lot of recent running form on which to base this estimate.  The best way not to worry about time was not to look at my watch, and I never did check it until I crossed the finish line.

After halfway, I stretched out for a kilometre or two, but began to lose form a bit so backed off and tried to settle into an efficient pace.  This seemed to work and I continued to gradually pass runners right through until 30km.  From that point, the course became more undulating and my legs started to feel very tired.  I could see some more runners in the distance, but was unable to make ground on them.  With 5km to go, I decided just to try to keep my form and not to worry about my place or time.  Regardless of how fast anyone runs a marathon, I think they will always find the last kilometres hard, and I was no exception.  I ran through the finish in 3:24:34, a time with which I was quite happy, though the thought of running 30 minutes faster to get a sub-3 seems very daunting.  I won $75, equal to the entry fee, for finishing first in my age group.

Quite a few Terrigal Trotters journeyed north for the Macleay River Running Festival and there was strong mutual support and an enjoyable post-run celebration at the town pub.  My right knee and Achilles tendon stiffened up significantly after the run, but I don’t think they are any worse than usual after a hard long run and I’m hopeful that the pain will diminish and the joints loosen up in the next few days.