Thursday, 7 July 2011

Gold Coast Marathon: Race Notes

I felt strangely calm on the start line for the marathon, lining up behind the 3hr 30min pace runners. I had my plan to let the pacers get away from me in the first half of the run and then try to reel them in. I knew I'd never be able to keep up with them the whole way. It was an odd feeling not to have my run club companions with my on the line to chat with.

It was going to take a huge effort and I'd really be pushing my limits to to achieve my goal of running sub 3hr 30min.

0 - 11km: Southport to Mermaid Beach
Without much fanfare (I was at least expecting a starting gun) we were off. There was a bit of stopping and starting as we queued to get across to the start line. A guy behind me wasn't alert to what was going on and ran into the back of me. Luckily no damage was done.

I was feeling quite comfortable and had to make a conscious effort not to run too quickly. Making sure my per kilometer splits were slower than 5mins. At the 6km mark I saw the Irish guy that I had run part of the way along the Great Ocean Road with. We exchanged pleasantries and then I dropped back as he was running quicker than I wanted to.

12 - 15km: Miami Beach to Burleigh Heads
I saw the leaders heading back north as as I was going south. I was just before the twelve kilometer marker and they were already nearly 8km ahead of me. It's unbelievable how fast they can run! Seeing the leaders fly along made me run a bit faster. I had to deliberately slow myself down.

I'd been expecting to keep the pace runners in my sights most of the way, but this hadn't turned out to be the case. At the turn around at Burleigh Heads I used marks in the road to work out that the pace runners were 300m ahead of me. This was a little bit less than I thought it might be at this stage of the race, so I was fairly comfortable even if I couldn't see them.

16 - 21km: Burleigh Heads back to Mermaid Beach
Everything was pretty calm during this phase of the race. I was running on my own to a rhythm and not really falling in with anyone else. I was aware of two guys who I kept seeing who seemed to be doing a run three minutes, walk one minute type of thing. There was a constant scenario of the hare and the tortoise going on. I'd over take them as they walked and then they'd sprint back past me.

I was making a conscious effort to keep my fluids up, drinking one or two cups at every drinks station. More than I'd normally consume.

21 - 27km: Mermaid Beach to Main Beach
Now to execute the difficult part of my plan. It was time to accelerate. I wondered if I could leave it a bit later, but I knew I had to start speeding up now.

I was aware that my body was running at a pace that was a little bit quicker that I was naturally comfortable with. My muscles were extending a little bit longer and I was using more energy. This is where it was going to get tough!

There was a 2km stretch where the sun came out and even though it was only 9am it started to get very hot. I was extremely grateful when the clouds came back over and the sting of the sun went away.

28 - 35km: Main Beach to Runaway Bay

I finally had the pace runners back in my sites. It had taken longer than I thought it would but I was pleased to see them. At the 28km mark I recognised a lady from the gym as I overtook her. I was thinking about saying hello, but kept my head down and pressed on.

We ran near the finish line and I saw some of the top fifty finishing. I recognised Magnus Michelsson who had finished fourth at Great Ocean Road giving high fives to some of the crowds and guessed he can't have been in contention for the win this time round!

At around 34km I saw the Irish guy that had left me at the 6km mark. It was a great moral boost to have pulled him back. We ran together for a short time, but I was too puffed to talk and was managing to push a little bit faster than he could run.

There were two pacers carrying balloons signalling that they were running 3hr 30min pace. I saw one of them untie the balloons from their shirt and let the drift up into the sky. He started slowing down. Perhaps they aren't invincible after all!

My quadricep muscles were very sore.

36 - 42.2km: Runaway Bay to the Finish Line
I'd finally over taken the pacers! It was a great little feeling, but I was too exhausted to experience much.

In my previous two marathons from the 30km mark onwards I've seen a fair number of people walking or standing at the side of the road stretching sore muscles. There weren't too many people doing that in this race, however, I did see five unconscious people lying on the side of the road being tended by medics. I also passed one guy swaying dangerously with buckled legs. His body was clearly going into shut down and there was a marshall trying to get him to stop and sit down. He wasn't listening, but it was only a matter of moments before he'd collapse I felt sure.

I experienced reflux a couple of times and was slightly worried I might vomit. Luckily it didn't happen.

I just kept pushing, pushing, pushing. I was seriously tired in the last couple of kilometers but drove myself to keep going. As we approached the finish line I managed a strong sprint over taking quite a few people. It was a good feeling to be finishing strongly.

I staggered to the drinks table for a bottle of water and to stuff down several orange segments. A kind lady untied the timing chip from my shoe laces.

I finished the marathon in 3hr 27mins 51sec. I was 740th out of 4,549  finishers. Top 17% which is pretty good!

The official results are here. It is good to see all my 5km splits getting consistently faster. My second half marathon was 5min quicker than the first.

The data from my watch is here.

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