Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Sydney Marathon: Race Notes

The most important part of my recollections of marathon day, the race itself! I didn't have many tactics going into the race, just determination to run under 4hrs and preferably in 3hr 45mins. Every piece of advice I've received from people who have completed a marathon was not to start too fast and burn out. Negative splits seemed to be the holy grail where you run the second half of the marathon more quickly than the first.

I've broken the race down into different phases which represent my emotions during the run. It's been interesting to compare how I felt at the time, with the data from my watch. Definitely gaps between perception and reality.

0 - 7km: From Milsons Point, over the Harbour Bridge to Mrs Macquarie's Chair
Remembering the advice I wanted to start off steady running at 5min 20sec per kilometer. For the first seven kilometers I was running consistently faster than my target.

I wasn't panicking too much as there were quite a few downhill sections which always make you go a bit more quickly, but was aware I'd need to moderate my pace once we hit the flat or I'd be in trouble. There were also a lot of people over taking Trish and I. Trish calmly reminding me that we'd be overtaking them all once we hit 30km.

It was glorious running over the middle of the Harbour Bridge. I was feeling pretty comfortable and controlled.

8 - 13km: Mrs Macquarie's Chair, through Hyde Park to Sydney Cricket Ground
I finally managed to regulate my pace and run some consistent kilometers at my target speed. I was still feeling like I was on a comfortable training run and Trish and I were chatting as we ran along. It did our confidence good to pass the hour mark without any real issues.

I was worried that my left shoe was a bit tight and this might be restricting the circulation of blood to my foot so I stopped to loosen the shoe lace just after the water station at the 13km mark. It took me what felt like ages to tie the lace back up. I'd lost dexterity in my hands with all the blood flowing to my leg muscles.

14 - 15km: Moore Park
I felt like these two kilometers were a bit of a struggle and our pace had dropped. I wasn't panicking, but I was a bit concerned that 'hard' miles had started so early in the run and in a zone where I should still be very comfortable.

The split times from my watch showed that while I was a bit slower, it wasn't by very much. A panic attack where the facts didn't really stack up.

My left foot was feeling a bit better now that the lace had been loosened. My right foot began to feel pinched, but I told myself to stop being silly.

16 - 24km: Centennial Park
My uneasy feelings weren't helped when we were caught by the 3hr 45min pace runner. Are we beginning to slip backwards? Using my watch and the pace tattoo on my arm I knew that we were still ahead of 3hr 45min split times, so I was a bit confused more than concerned.

The pace runner was talking to everyone around him and calling out his target times and strategies which I found soothing. He was running to 3hr 45mins on the official clock (and as it takes 3 or 4mins to cross the start line this was ahead of 3hr 45min time). He stated that he was planning to slow down slightly in the final few kilometers and was gaining a bit of time now.

I can't drink while I run so I was walking through drinks station, something the pace runner wasn't doing meaning he pulled ahead of me. I was becoming a bit dissatisfied running at someone else's pace and feeling under pressure to catch up after drinks stations.

I could feel my shorts rubbing in the small of my back and was on the look out for Vaseline at one of the first aid tables.

25 - 31km: Anzac Parade back to Hyde Park
My growing dissatisfaction of running with the pace group, confidence that I was feeling good and a desire to beat 3hr 45mins, if I could, I decided to run off the front of the pace group. I had a slightly guilty look over my shoulder to Trish as I moved away. The last seventeen kilometers would be on my own.

I ran seven 'quick' kilometers. I felt re-assured that I was on familiar roads, as this section was a common part of some of my longer training runs. My left knee began to hurt which annoyed me as I have had very pain free training runs. I mentally decided that it might be something that will stop me walking tomorrow, but it wouldn't be something that stopped me completing the marathon.

I began over taking a serious number of people in the race for the first time. There were also one or two people walking or at the side of the road stretching. At the 30km mark I finally spotted some Vaseline for the small of my back.

It was great to hear Lyndon from the running club shout my name at the northern end of Hyde Park as I ran past.

32 - 35km: Hyde Park, Circular Quay, Dawes Point and Barangaroo
Oh dear, I was beginning to feel pretty tired after running the last seven kilometers (too?) quickly. I was worried that I'd never complete another 10km at the same pace and was mentally trying to slow myself down.

Near the Park Hyatt hotel we saw some of the quicker runners on their return loop to the Opera House finish line. It was heartening to be so close to the finish, but also crushing to realise that I had another seven kilometers until I would get there.

Although I was mentally trying to slow myself down, and felt like I was at the time, my split times indicate that I just kept going at the same pace.

36 - 39km: From Barangaroo into Pyrmont and back to Barangaroo
I made a mental note as I started this section of the run that it was the furthest in both terms of time and distance than I had ever run before.

Who designed this course? I want to throttle them. We went into Pyrmont and returned to the city via the elevated Western Drive expressway. Not only was it a pig ugly, but running up and down the motorway on/off ramps were hills that I definitely didn't need!

It wasn't only me that was finding it tough there were a lot of people walking or stretching at the side of the road having cramped up. I walked very slowly through the final water station on the course and it took me quite a long time to get going again.

I would have sworn that I was slowing down, but mind over matter kept me going at almost the same pace as before.

40 - 42km: Dawes Point to Sydney Opera House
Before the marathon I'd checked out the route, and saw that the finish was near the regular Tuesday morning route I do with my gym buddies. I thought this would give me some comfort, but I was too fatigued to take comfort in anything by this stage. I dearly wanted to put in a push for the finish, but there was nothing left in the tank.

There were quite a few crowds lining the route along Circular Quay and the approach to the Opera House. It was fantastic to hear the crowds cheering and willing you on. If only I had more energy!

Although I felt like I wasn't able to pick up the pace, I ran the final three kilometers in less than 5mins per kilometer. Pretty impressive for the end of the marathon. Here's hoping I looked good in the finishing line photograph!

The official results are here.

I ran the marathon in 3hrs 38mins 55secs at an average speed of 5min 11sec per kilometer.
I was placed 716th out of 2,814 finishers.
My second half marathon was four minutes than the first.

split time distance race time pace

First Half 01:51:23 21.10 01:53:07 05:16

Second Half     01:47:32 21.10 03:40:39 05:05

1 comment:

  1. In my far more limited experience, I run at a fairly constant speed irrespective of whether I am at the start or end of the run - cramp excepted of course. I also find it impossible to judge whether I am running faster or slower than "normal". The 10k I did last night I thought I had sped through but in fact I was at exactly my usual 50 minute mark as I pulled into my estate.

    I am still in awe.