This year’s Melbourne Marathon was going to be my 4th around Melbourne and 7th in total. I was determined it would be my best ever. I had defined that to myself as being a personal best (PB), however I missed it by 2 minutes. In saying that I still feel this one qualifies as one of my best races and I’ll explain why later.
Usually I’m a hypo mix of nerves and energy on the start line, but this time I felt very happy and relaxed. I was content knowing my training had been very good in the 6 weeks leading up despite a 3 week break due to Achilles problems, but the base I’d built up to then was quite sound. I was very excited to be able to share a start in the preferred athlete area, just behind Yuki Kawauchi and Aussie’s best female Marathon runner, Lisa Weightman. Yuki is a Japanese star, who was running his 8th Marathon for the year. He won Gold Coast Marathon and represented Japan at 2013 World Championships. (Ed note: Yuki, is known as the ‘Citizen Runner’, as he works full time and often flys in the day before and returns in time for school on Monday!)
The gun went and I’d decided to see if I could head out at approximately 4:00min per km pace, to test myself. I got through the first 5km in around 20:10, but the warning signs were there early that I wouldn’t be able to maintain this pace all day. My legs felt like they were going to explode during that first 15km and some of that self doubt began to cloud my mind. I eased back into what felt more like a more comfortable marathon pace, which I call my easy tempo pace. At around the 15k mark I took my first gel and caught my first glimpse of the leaders coming down the other side of the road, which gave me a kick along. It really did the trick, as I felt absolutely brilliant during the 15-35k stage. Another thing I must mention here, I’m very fortunate to have a supportive coach in Melissa Vandewater. Mel was injured on the day, and instead of sitting at home on what was a pretty crap Melbourne spring day, Mel was on the bike. She got around to as many parts of the course as she could to cheer myself and the other runners she knows and coaches. Those little bursts of adrenaline from seeing a familiar happy smiling face are gold and make a big difference, especially in the latter part of a race.
I downed my second gel at the 30k mark and felt like I still had good energy to battle the undulations over the last 12k. I knew my PB was out of reach, but I set myself a new goal to try and run a negative split, something I’ve never managed in a marathon before. The last 10k at Melbourne are the toughest as you have a 1km undulating stretch up St Kilda Rd to tackle, followed by the merge with the half marathon runners, then at the 36k mark a 1.2km undulating run around the back end of The Tan. These points can make or break your race. This is where I spent the most effort and was happy to be able to maintain a solid pace on the more demanding sections of the course. As I made the turn for the MCG, I could feel the adrenaline building, and I started to pick off tired runners one at a time, which is always fun. Just inside the MCG, the crowd noise was amazing! I’ll never be an elite sportsperson, but having the chance to experience the crowd atmosphere as an athlete participating in an event on the MCG is something I’ll never ever get sick of. I heard the noise and took off over the last 300m, in what probably looked like I’d just hidden at the gate of the MCG for the last couple of hours. I do love a strong finish, and the sight of the finish line just seems to give me that last shot of adrenaline I need! I finished with a 2:53:42, not my personal best, however I was very proud of my run because I’d finally managed a negative split for a marathon despite pushing a solid pace in the first half. I’m really pleased with my endurance, but can’t wait to use the next few months to build my speed back up and chase down those PBs next year!
My 2013 Melbourne Marathon Splits
10k – 41:13
20k – 41:18
Half Mara – 1:27:05
30k – 40:56
40k – 41:33
42.2 – 8:51
Total Time 2:53:42
120th Place from 6847 Finishers
Written by Chris Armstrong