Sydney Marathon Run Report

19 09 2011

Last weekend I went up to Sydney for the Sydney Marathon. It was my first time at the start line and I was somewhat nervous. At the start line, I positioned myself behind the 4:00hr pacer and took the obligatory photos of my fellow runners. And then I had a few minutes to think. What do you think about at the starting line of the longest run you’ll probably ever attempt?

Have I done enough training?  I haven’t done enough training. In fact I’d done less than half  of the training plan that I started out on way back in May. I hadn’t run more than 32kms ever and I’d only done over 19kms once in the last 6 weeks. My last run was a week ago and I struggled through the 9.5km. NO

Am I ready for this?  I’m not ready for this. Marathons are as much a test of mental fortitude as they are physical stamina. I failed at my last true endurance test and I’ll fail at this one. I’m not ready. Oh God, I’m not ready. NO

Have I got enough food and drink (gels and water) with me?  Six gels, a bottle of water, some electrolyte tablets plus however many drink stations between here and the Opera House. YES.

Am I wearing too many layers?  I’ve got on my compression shorts and shirt, a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. The same things I always run in, and the heat has only beaten me once, and then it was 35 degrees and the middle of summer. NO

How hot is it?  It is feeling a bit warm actually. So is the wind. Now that I think of it, it is practically scorching compared to the last couple of months in Wagga. Bloody Hot

Am I  wearing too many layers? (again) Yep. Shit. YES.

Am I ready for this? (again) God no. NO.

I’m not ready, I’m not ready, I’m not ready, I’m not…AND WE’RE OFF.

The race started well and I found a good rhythm early, thanks to the pace runner. I didn’t really have any issues as we crossed the Sydney Harbour bridge although I did notice that I’d somehow started my Garmin 14 or 15 minutes early. I’m fairly certain I didn’t do a 19min first km! By the time I’d hit the 2km mark, the watch was way out and I made the decision to reset. From there, everything else slowly unwound. As we came off the bridge and headed out towards Mrs Macquaries Point, the heat kicked in and smacked me in the face. By the time I’d rounded the hairpin at the end of the Botanic Gardens, I was in trouble. I stopped for some water and a gel but in the process got dropped by the pacer. As I increased my effort to catch him, I took down the gel and a mouthful of water, which was nowhere near enough. It’s well known that a gutful of gel is not a good thing in the absence of at least a cup and a half of water.

The result, headspins and nausea. Add that to the heat, the overwhelming fear of dread and conviction of my own underpreparedness, I quit. 9km in. Less than a quarter of the way around and I tucked my tail between my legs and went home. Literally.

I’m over it now, but at the time I was angry with myself. By the time I’d walked the km (or so) to the Opera House, I was feeling much better. I actually felt like I could go on, but I felt too ashamed to turn around and go back to where I left off. Shit and bugger. It’s true to say that a marathon is as much mental as it is physical and for me I failed on both counts.

I failed to stick to my training program that was actually going quite well. I pretty much had myself convinced that I was going to fail before I turned up. I’d stacked the odds against my success to the extent that success was as unlikely as failure was inevitable.

So what did I learn? Training programs exist for a reason. Start one, finish one, do the run. Don’t skip steps or take shortcuts. Get off your arse, stop being a sook and HTFU. The easy option is what found my sitting on the couch bemoaning my terrible state of health. I took a big step backwards and in the process reminded myself why the path of least resistance is rarely;y the best option. At least not when I’m trying to change my life.





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