Sunday, September 27, 2009

Stocking up some karma

After Friday's debacle of a run I was really worried. In fact, I think that mild paranoia is a personality trait of most marathoners - especially in the latter stages of training before the race. To my family, friends and work colleagues - I apologise in advance for the next two weeks!

I wanted to complete this run - 21km at marathon pace - over the last half of the Melbourne Marathon course. I know it reasonably well, but I wanted to get it ingrained in my head, hopefully make friends with it, and get some 'positive karma' that I could draw upon come race day.

I have split the marathon course into small pieces and today I would run four of them - the Elwood leg (8km), St Kilda Rd (5km), Shrine loop (5km) and MCG (3km).

To say conditions were ordinary is an understatement. The good lady wife dropped me off in St. Kilda where I think the whole suburb is in mourning after yesterday's loss in the AFL Grand Final. I could barely get out of the car it was so windy!

I received some good advice/words of wisdom from fellow blogger 'canute' who reminded me that the purpose of this next two weeks is to "sustain the muscle ‘memory’ of race pace, and your confidence, while allowing your muscles recover from the preceding months of hard work. This goal can be achieved with a relatively small amount of running at race pace." For me this took a little of the "must do" out of the run and made it more a "keeping the faith" run.

With no particular pacing strategy in mind and no real km markers memorised (just a few checkpoints) I set out just to run comfortably. I hoped that comfortably would equal fast when I checked out the stats back at home. Did I mention how windy it was????? At Elwood Beach the waves were crashing in way up the beach and foam covered the roadway at least 50m from shore. Nuts!!

I cruised back to St. Kilda and was pleasantly surprised to see I was running ahead of target pace. Up Fitzroy Street and left in St. Kilda Road. This is a lovely tree-lined boulevard and, thankfully, it offers reasonably good protection from the elements. I made my way down here to the Arts Centre where you turn left to do a loop around the gardens surrounding the Shrine. I had covered this 5km in just over 22min so was thinking either I am running well or my distances are all way out!

The next part of the course is the only "lumpy" bit and, to be perfectly honest, it is pretty flat. It is here that you also get your first glimpse of the MCG, albeit with still about 7km left to go. But it is inspiring. Unfortunately the water taps here on the famous 'Tan Track' are USELESS. Not a single one worked which was a bugger 'cause I had just swallowed a gel and was in desperate need of some water. Aargh!

After making your way around part of the Tan you make a u-turn to take you back to St. Kilda Rd where you head for home. On this corner, just by the shrine, there is a monument of a Digger (Aussie soldier) carrying his mate over his shoulders. Entitled 'Cobbers' it commemorates the WW1 Battle of Fromelle where 5500 Aussie soldiers died in just over 24-hours. It was great to pass this in training. On race day it will be inspiring. I went through this 5km section right on race pace at 4.38m/k.

From here it is only 3km to the finish and probably the easiest bit of the course. Down to Federation Square and turn right into Flinders Street. Along here then down the gentle hill to Jolimont; right turn into Brunton Avenue and only a km to the MCG which has loomed large in your vision for a few k's now. The MCG is a modern-day Colisseum, holding in excess of 100,000 people at major sporting events. I think there'll probably be oh, 100, there to see us marathoners, but I could imagine a much bigger crowd as I made my way down here this morning.

I felt strong and finished in great shape. The total journey of 21km in 96 mins at an average pace of 4.33 m/k. Just fantastic! Absolutely thrilled with this. I hope to travel as quickly and efficiently in a fortnight over these same roads!

SK-Elw-SK 8.05km 36.36min -4.32m/k
to VCA 5.02km 22.21min -4.27m/k (13.07km in 58.57min)
to Grant St 4.86km 22.33min -4.38m/k (17.93km in 81.30min)
to MCG/Punt Rd 3.16km 14.28min -4.34m/k (21.09km in 95.58min)

Map of Run:


  1. Looks like everything is on track.

    The doubts are natural, most people, no matter what their prep is like, experience plenty over the last part of their lead up.

    You've done the training.


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