Gold Coast Marathon '17
Run - 02 Jul 2017
2017 marked my third time to the Gold Coast Marathon.
Three’s a charm, third time luckily, good things happen in three. Shit, how many more ridiculous statements can I pack into this post. Good question; and I’ll answers it - probably a few more...
My first GC attempt was scared by an achilles encounter. The second became my break through race. And the third, well, it was the best yet. For the next few moments it may start to feel like I'm beginning to describe the next Disney story; The rising of a man from the ashes to greatness. Sesh, this post is quickly turning into the rambling of a crazed mad-man. But, I want to be clear - this is not a Disney endorsed post. So, before I waft on too much more; let's step into the review:
THE MIND STATE
The 2017 GC marathon was different to every other marathon face-off I've lined up for. There was the usual pre marathon apprehension, but compiling on top was a stack of personal pressure. I wanted to run fast. Really fast. Everything - every little itsy bitsy moment was geared towards achieving fast. Focus, locked in. It’s in these moments that the mind really starts to shine - it’s ability to block out noise, any unwanted and unwarranted chatter is something quite staggering. It's like it abruptly morphs into a single focus machine. Nothing, absolutely nothing, outside of the tunnel vision matters. And yet, every touch & twinge is felt with a heightened sense as if the body is looking to try and trick the mind with messages of uncertainty.
The days leading in manifested by finding essential places to lay down and put the feet up. The sofa & pool lounger became a place of lavash inhabitance. It’s there, where I watched movies, listened to podcasts about the great Aussie and Kiwi marathoners, wrote notes to myself, and let my mind dance forward - preparing for the race that was going to be. I’ve heard people liken the marathon to going to war before. I’ve never gone to war, but I’m sure there are some similarities - perhaps in how you know it will hurt somewhere; physically, mentally or both. Or perhaps its because it's such a complex and strategic puzzle to unlock - a bit like what I could imagine crafting strategic battle plans to be like. Do you play to your strengths, or do you employ tactics that may yield greatness - often distinctively different, perhaps even mutually exclusive at times.
So, before I new it; there I was on the start line. The weeks of training leading in to the race were solid, albeit it for a slight achilles tweak about 12 days out. The Achilles strain did cause a week or so of panicked jogging, especially by not being able to hit my final few hard runs and long workouts. Although, the Saturday 8 days out before the race I did clock 3 x 8min averaging 3:06s, which gave me confidence that I still had some speed. Ready, set...
The gun fired. Go, yelled Rob De Castella - and off we went. The tentative first steps of a marathon - always an interesting moment because in these first few steps you get a feel for how the next 10 mile will go. If you feel smooth, then there’s a pretty good chance that the next hour of running will go well. Luckily, I was feeling silky. For the first several KMs I kept the pace honest, letting the Kenyans go - but making sure I was at the front of the Aussie/NZ lead pack. Around 9km I could feel the guys I was with starting to drift and lose momentum. Pushing ahead, I dropped our small pack of 2 or 3 & kept the pace honest at around 3:21s per/km.
Running through halfway in 1:11, I was about a minute faster than I had ever been through the first half before. This place of unchartered territory was absolutely motivating - I had achieve my first goal for the race - that was to run out hard and be brave. However, just after that everything started to get really, really hard. Normally I’d hope to hit the 27km and only just start to feel the pinch. But, as it happened the ouch-ness started to kick-in early- as did the gritted teeth. Trying to regather some composure, I went into a holding pattern.
There was a moment heading back up the coast towards the Surfers paradise 26km mark, where my legs started to really pinch - feeling like they were about to give way I felt like there was a real possibility that I may need to stop. Luckily the old mind kicked in. I gave myself the classic ultimatum; I could pull out, but only if I couldn’t physically move my legs any longer. Thinking about that statement for a moment really shows the mindset distilled by marathon runners have. We’re prepared to push past pain, into a realm of agony all to reach the goal. In these moments, marathon runners don’t have great respect for the fact that muscle fibres are tearing, the pumping cardiovascular system is cause our lungs to scream, and lactic acid is accumulating more rapidly with every step forward - often far beyond what we’ve training for. And of course the SIS Nutrition helped to keep my legs ticking over too.
Over the final 12km, I didn’t speeding up. I managed to hold ground sitting just on 3:30s per km. It was tough. It was bloody tough. But, knowing that I was in the lead of the Oceania champs motivated me to push on. The mind kept strong, and even though each step sent a spark of pain shooting up my left leg, I took each step forward knowing that if I held on, I could win Oceania champs - & that I could get another PB.
Inside the final 1km I knew I was going to be close to 2:25. Coming into the finishing the chute, I could see the clock counting. The numbers seemed to tick faster as I edged towards the line. “Shit, this is going to be close” I thought as I started to sense the urgency and sprinted. Inside the final 50min the instincts kicked in, as I accelerated toward the line. 2:24:56. - a new PB. Venturing off to the side line, I sprawled out in the shade. The last 10km had been brutal in the hot sun, so lying there, finally still allowed me to take it all in. Realising I’d won Oceania Champs, and run a new PB - I was stoked. It may not have been as fast as I had of hoped for. But, you know - that’s the marathon. It’s bloody tough. So, as I cast my eyes forward to the next race, it’s with excitement and a hunger I run to once again chase the feeling of the Gold Coast 2017 Marathon.