Tick it off!
Originally, I had no plans fo doing this years Gold Coast Marathon, but when you are surrounded by friends who inspire you with their training – that was it – late entry and I’m in.
Having a months break from start of May meant there was little mileage in the legs. I was actually more nervous than any other race, mainly because I wasn’t sure if I would actually make it (or how tough it would be).
But I guess the 3 marathon and half ironman I completed in the second half of last year held me in good stead with a solid base. Going into the race I felt fresh.
Race morning – 7:10 Start
My best mate Brett and I, lined up together at the start line. Robert De Castella gave his customary speech about Phidippedes running the first 40+ trek from Marathon to Athens to inform Caesar of victory… “and then he died” says De Castella. Just what you want to hear 5 minutes before the start (I still laugh every year though).
The gun went off. We were away. Brett and I bustled through the congestion and within 500 metres I could see we weren’t going to be running together. It’s easy to separate in the traffic. Plus Brett had done the training and was out to run quicker so see ya!
My race plan was to run within myself and hold as close to 5 min/km’s as I could but back off when I felt lactic acid building so I could flush it over a few km’s and then resume a solid pace.
The plan seemed to be holding up.
I was running around 4:50’s and comfortably held this pace through to 20km where I disappeared into one of the remaining spare blocks of land on Hedges Avenue to take a leak.
Crossing half way in 1:45:00 I knew this would be my slowest marathon to date, but respectable on the clock for half marathon split. To be honest, this was the first time I’ve ran a marathon and genuinely not cared about the clock. I honestly didn’t give two shits about what time I did, so long as I finished without trashing myself. Self preservation and the 4am start to fly to Hobart the next morning for work were already on my mind.
The crowd was amazing. And I was having a blast with it.
The drunken boys on Hedges who hadn’t slept and were still chuggin beers at 8am the next morning – classic! Didn’t kind of Marathon, but still classic!
The barefoot dude who’s shoes blew out, decide to run the last 35kms on skin – “nut case inspirational” – I love it!
The Japanese bloke with the Tuba wrapped around his body as he chugged along – amazing – I heard he finished with people behind him which makes it even more amazing.
And my favorite, the kids who come out and high five everyone and hold up their signs they so diligently made – these families make this event so special.
Running back onto the bridge at Southport, you expect (hope) to see some friends as they give you such an enormous lift.
I saw Fiona and Kevin (fellow marathoners who smashed out the half this year) were chanting from the medium strip and I managed to bust out a little “Charlie Chaplin” heel click before promptly thudding back to earth.
Not much further up the road was Jess, Brett’s girlfriend. I stopped for a quick chat and to dump my race belt that now almost empty from gels.
After a brief exchange, I was off again.
The crowd along Southport this year was going nuts. It was the best atmosphere I have ran in front of at ANY event I have EVER done. It was electric. People cheering like a Grand Final. The energy was amazing.
I went up a gear. With 10km to go I had 50 minutes in my sights.
I banged out a nice kilometre and then realized the maraton was about to start. The hurting set in and the next 9kms was a matter of getting home. My spirits were high and I was really enjoying the race, the crowd and the challenge.
I wasn’t expecting to be feeling this good, but it’s all relative. You can’t escape the hurt.
Sub 5 min/kms disappeared at the 25km mark. Now the 6 min/kms felt imminent.
By 35 kms, the legs were ready to stop. But the human will was not. I pushed on.
Around 37kms I felt a dry mouth that dominated my thinking. Where was the next drink station? I wanted it for two reasons – 1 – so I could dampen the desert mouth, and 2, so I could walk through the drink station and appease my legs.
The last 5kms were hard. I think they’re supposed to be. That’s what makes Marathons special. That battle between mind and body, will and physical reserves. I truly wonder what the human body is capable of.
Coming into the last km, I was alternating between walk 20metres, run 500. Ego was gone. Crowd cheered me on but it couldn’t lift my legs until they were ready again.
Into the final 700 metres and my will took over. I wanted to finish. I wanted that feeling across the line again. The crowd grew louder and we all approached the final bend into the finish straight.
It felt like a thousand people were passing me as my usual leg speed was gone and a final sprint was out of the question. Crossing the line was awesome. It’s an amazing mix of emotion. Joy. Self satisfaction. Relief. Nutritional anxiousness (my new word for desperately wanting some food and drinks back in you). Happiness.
What do I love about Marathons?
In a word, everything. It’s a true human endurance test that brings out the best in everybody. I marvel at the people who take 6 hours to complete it as much as I marvel at the Kenyans who blitz it in 2 hours 10 minutes. Big or small, fast or slow, I get inspired. And I’m sure most marathon runners will tell you the same, the see themselves as average people plugging away and yet they are simultaneously inspired by everyone around them. That’s what I love about it.
Marathons are humbling. They strip away the ego and reveal people in their most painful and courageous moments toughing it out. It’s raw. It’s real. Can’t wait for the next one!
Full splits – go to http://www.goldcoast.com.au/gold-coast-marathon-results-2011.html and type in Groves – you’ll find me.