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Reality check

The start of the 2013 Melbourne Marathon
Last night's eleven hour drive back from Melbourne to Copa, punctuated by a collision with a large kangaroo just north of Gundagai which provided a few seconds of drama, gave me plenty of time to contemplate my woeful Melbourne Marathon performance.  In the lead up to the race, I never considered the possibility of running over four hours.  My finish time of 4:08 was so off the radar, it almost feels unreal.  But maybe that's a good thing, because I know in my heart that I'm still capable of running much faster than that.  However, I'm not sure in my heart that I still believe I can run a sub-3:00 marathon.  Maybe I'm fooling myself, and making a fool of myself.  But I'm not giving up on the idea just yet.

Soon after the start of the 2013 Melbourne Marathon
It's hard to put my finger on exactly what went wrong with yesterday's race.  My conservative start went as planned and it did take me a few kilometres to feel warmed up.  But contrary to expectations, I never settled into a free-running pace after that.  The adductor muscles (top front of thighs) of both legs felt strained early, and I believe this shortened my stride.  I held my 3:20 marathon pace to half way, but was running inefficiently and tiring.  As my running form deteriorated further, my lower back tensed up and soon I was just shambling along..."You can make it, Old Timer!"  The lower back problem has occurred in some other long races, and once it starts tightening up, my race is over.  My conclusion is that I wasn't really fit enough to run as I hoped (3:10 to 3:20).  Three weeks ago, I had thought those times were unlikely, but my training picked up recently and maybe I got carried away.

It was a humbling, demoralising and frustrating experience, but part of a runner's life.  Not every race is a good one, and some are downright bad.  I know my potential is not defined by such races.  I'm capable of running a faster time right now, and I know I'm a few months short of being in peak condition, so faster times lie ahead.  How fast, remains to be seen.