Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Sydney Marathon Race Report! Marathon 10!!

I'm sitting in McDonalds in Circular Quay eating a Quarter Pounder 30 minutes after finishing my 10th Marathon. This is the first time ever that I haven't been sick, or had stomach distress after a massive race. I think I may have finally worked out my nutrition. Finally.

I have been so busy with preparing for holidays, work and the Capricorn Coast Running Festival that I didn't do a Marathon Blog Preview. Oh well it doesn't really matter, what matters is the race and how awesome it was.

When I first discussed with Bel about going to Sydney and running the Sydney Marathon as a family trip, she was worried about another long day of waiting for me to finish. I promised I would be done in 4hrs to 4hrs 10min. In my head 4hrs would be if everything goes awesome and 4.10 to allow for the tough course and lack of miles in the legs.

The trip also meant we got to see my NRL team the Manly Sea Eagles play a knock out Semi-Final on the Saturday night, which again isn't ideal, but once in a lifetime experience.

We headed to Sydney via Brisbane on Thursday night, it was Joel's first time on a plane so he was really excited. It was great travelling with the kids, they behaved really well!

Once in Sydney we spent Friday doing the tourist thing, picked up my race pack, headed to Manly on the ferry and did a heap of sightseeing and shopping. The kids had a blast.

Saturday rolled around, and we headed to Bondi for the morning. The weather was starting to cool down a bit - and I hadnt really thought of the marathon too much. At lunch I took the boys to the movies so I could get off my feet for a couple of hours, then I had a huge feed of Indian food! I kept hydrated and feeling really loose. We got back to the room, had some more food and got ready for the footy.

As I said earlier it probably wasnt the smartest idea to go to the footy prior to the marathon BUT there is no way I was going to miss this opportunity to see my team play live in a semi final. We caught the bus to the ground and actually had a nice meal of beef pie for dinner - which wasnt too greasy at all.

My team was beaten in extra time by a field goal, and although we lost it was an epic night out that the boys are still talking about. Nothing beats live sport thats for sure.

When we got home, we put the kids to bed and I decided to sleep in the lounge room on the spare bed. I got a full nights sleep and awoke to overcast skys and light rain, perfect I thought.

I also had a new nutrition plan that I had been thinking about for quite a while, it was to race low. That is, keep water and energy sources limited prior to racing and in the early stages - then use how I felt to feed the machine. So exactly 1hr before the race start, I drank 300ml of flat Coke. That was it, I had nothing else - not a sip of water or anything else. I walked outside into the cold and wet - it was overcast. Perfect I thought. I immediately felt like it was going to be my day, as the sun and heat really sucks the energy out of me.

I caught the train across to the startline, went quickly to the toilet and made my way into the back of the A corral. I was aiming to run with the 4hr balloon and just hang on for as long as possible. I started a little in front of the balloons - and before I knew it we were underway. It was raining by now, enough to make the road feel greasy underfoot and a little uneasy when the mad rush of people reached an sharp corner.

The early part of the Marathon is often the best, the adrenaline is up, nothing hurts, and your breathing is bang on. Sydney was even more special as we ran across the Harbour Bridge and had a full view of Circular Quay to our left, the Opera House was below - life was good. In that moment, I was just so appreciative that I found running. I have travelled across Australia running and racing, and been able to really appreciate being healthy and physically able to do the things I do. Running across the closed bridge was fantastic - certainly a once off type of experience.

As I mentioned earlier, I was on my new nutrition strategy - which was racing low. I reached the 5km point and filled my 300ml Ultimate Direction handheld. I took a little sip and immediately felt like needing a toilet stop.

As we headed into the gardens, the large fig trees lined the course, I spotted my chance and took off behind the tree to relieve myself - as I wrapped things up - I joined a huge pack of runners - the 4.00hr pace group. It was destiny, so I jumped on the pace bus with the intention of getting dragged along as best I could, this was at the 7km mark and I had my first nutrition 2 Clif Shot Bloks.

Deep down I know that I havent been doing a lot of work, two things I know for certain is my general lack of training volume, and my weight being significantly higher than when I raced in 2012. At the moment I'm hovering around 77.5kg and when I raced in 2012 (when I ran 3.45) I raced at 72.5-73kg. Also in 2012 my average weekly volume was around 80-90km per week (maxed out at 123km) and now it is around 55km-60km per week.

I am aware enough to know that those two limiting factors would play a big part in me staying on the 4hr balloons.

The 4hr group was running much quicker than I expected, generally averaging 5.25 per km, some ks were 5.30 but a lot were grouped in the 5.25s. I thought they would be banking a little bit of time, but they seemed to be going much faster than I expected - or maybe I was just strugglin already!

I hung on, as we pounded a few hills, went through the War Memorial and up a huge long steady climb towards the Sydney Football Stadium. I was already planning the return journey where I was going to crush that part of the race. I was still with the bus, was feeling tight and the undulating course was taking its toll. Eventually by km 19 I slowly dropped off the back of the 4hr pace group. Although not be discouraged, I just kept knocking out the 5.40kms some at 5.50. I was taking 2 Clif Shot Bloks every 7km, and drinking when thirsty. Around 26km I bumped into Simon who was running for the Indigenous Marathon Project doing 8 Marathons in all of the Australian States and Territories. Was had a chat, but clearly he was suffering so I just kept plodding along. Around 27-29km it got really tough. I just struggled up the hill, and walked a little. Just to get my breath back.

Once over the hill though I powered down past 30km, through the War Memorial and back into the City. I felt great with the long downhill and was able to run in the 5.30s comfortably down through this section.

The last 6km was a bit of a surprise, I just suffered, and struggled to run 6.10-6.20 pace, probably due to the hills and lack of training KMs. But that is to be expected I guess. The last 2km was really awesome, I just concentrated on saving enough to finish under 4.10 which was my B goal time.

I came down the finish line, the crowd was so noisy 6-7 deep yelling out and I just sneaked under 4hrs 10 minutes. Marathon 10 was over. I was smashed in the quads but felt really well in the stomach.

I walked through, collected my medal and within 5 minutes Bel and the boys had found me. They had arrived 20 minutes earlier and had a great morning cheering before I finished.

We made our way across the road to Maccas and for the first time ever, I was able to actually stomach a meal immediately after a marathon. Quarter Pounder, Large Chips, Large Frozen Coke.

Nutrition was bang on. I had 2 Clif Shot Bloks at 7km, 14km, 21km, 28km, 35km, and 1 at 40km. Which is 66 calories per 7km (or around 40 minutes) - I only drank water on course and nothing else.

I have recently also run Melbourne Marathon my 11th Marathon - so I'm in the process of putting together that blog also! Insane that I ran 2 so close together!

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Kids running and 3 Weeks to Sydney Marathon! #marathon10

Boys warming up for fundraiser at school
Running. Work. Running. Work.

Thats been about all the news I have got for everyone. As has been the flow of the year, I have done little racing other than the marathons I have done.

I try not to blog about work, however I have been super busy with the merger between CQUniversity and CQ TAFE. We are now Queensland's first dual sector University which is exciting BUT I have been under the pump with extra work.

Anyway we are going to Sydney as a family holiday and for them to watch me run my 10th Marathon. I haven't run the Sydney Marathon, it looks specatular going over the Harbour Bridge and finishing at the Opera House. Joel also hasnt been on a plane before so it will be aweome long weekend in Sydney. Be prepared the next blog will pretty much be full of photos of my family holiday.

Hayden's first 10k!
We have finished footy for the year and a few weeks back we got the chance to run a local trail race at Byfield. Hayden really wanted to come and run it, but it was only 10k or 30k. I thought really hard about was he ready to run that far, I didnt want him to be injured or not enjoy it.

Ultimately we could just walk it if he was tired, so I agreed and we suited up in matching singlets and headed down for the race.

I wasnt sure how tough it was going to be, but I just talked him through our plan. Run when it was flat, walk the up hills and run the down hills. We executed it perfectly and with about 350m of elevation gain it was a tough run.

We set a loose time goal to run the 10k in 80 minutes, and we came through the 10k in 76 mins and finished the 10.5 in 1.19. In the last few kms we were running 5.20s making up for slower kms going up hill.

Hayden is such a positve kid, and I was so proud of him. Even as we went up the toughest hills he never complained, just focussed on walking fast and taking in enough fluid. He has been so proud of himself since - telling everyone who runs that he was the youngest kid there running!

Let me take a selfie
In the past I have done a few running trials for Scody's Research and Development team, mainly running shorts and new singlet cuts. Last week I recieved 2 awesome new garments in their new technical fabric. All I can say is WOW. I hope they put this stuff into production soon, it is so light and cool - possibly the best running shirt and singlet I have ever worn!

For those of you that havent signed up yet, registrations are open for the CQPhysio Group Capricorn Coast Running Festival - www.capcoastrun.com the last 2 years have sold out, so dont miss out!


Thursday, 10 July 2014

The Suffering. The Struggle. The Impossible. Gold Coast Marathon Review 2014.

The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of the cause we believe to be just. - Abraham Lincoln

If ever there was a blog post about someone else's race this is it. The story of Donald running his first marathon dates back to 2011, where he started to lose a bit of weight and do some treadmill running. He never believed in a million years he would ever run a "race", so when I ran his first event with him last year (the Perth City to Surf) he was hooked. I could tell he was always after the big fish, a half marathon was never going to be good enough. He had watched the Spirit of the Marathon, read the Penguin's books and watch 50 Marathons in 50 Days enough times to memorise Karno's quotes.

The marathon seemed like a good idea last year when he ran the Freo Half Marathon and was in shape, since then everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. Lack of training volume due to an ankle and foot injury, multiple trips to the podiatrist to sort it out, 3 or 4 pairs of shoes led us to the point where both of us knew it would take a miracle to finish. If you remember a blog late last year, I said I was going to run with him. I had mentally withdrawn from that situation, I was too worried we wouldnt finish and I'm not going to go all the way to Gold Coast pay for a rego and not finish. Thats a selfish view of his situation but also the reality.

Below are a few of the texts from last month after he snapped something in his ankle on the cross trainer - thus the depressing reality of not finishing the marathon became very real.

 For me personally I really just wanted him to down grade to the half marathon. I knew he could finish that. BUT Donald said he would rather DNF the marathon than not start it, his mum was coming over from England to see him finish so there was no way he wasnt going to try.

I had prepared myself for the reality that his weight and lack of training, plus the fact he had a cortisone injection in his foot on the Wednesday would make the journey of running 42km impossible. I really thought that he would get to a point where the negative self talk would cripple his race. I spoke to Brenden about it, and he understood that someone was going to have to run the last 10k with him to get him to the finish.

Donald is one of the most mentally toughest runners I know. I know so many runners who are scared to run the marathon, they have respectable half marathon times but are just unwilling to commit to the suffering that is the event. Donald is the opposite. Like a drug he just loved killing himself on the long training runs. Just the romance of the suffering - he is an ultramarathoner trapped in a 115kg public servant body.

Pre Race

Brenden and I flew into Brisbane on Saturday morning and I thought we were heading to the train for the ride to the Gold Coast, Brenden had other plans as he had hired a Audi (which was switched for a Merc) for us to go cruising down the Gold Coast. I was impressed with the first part of the trip, all signs pointed to an excellent weekend.

Big M and the Merc

We were meeting Donald at the expo so we set the GPS for the motel and enjoyed the cruise down to the Coast. I had never heard of this great motel Big M had booked, and for good reason.

Not our motel


vacant lot next door

   There were two ladies sitting on the stairs to our room who appeared to be working by the hour, this motel was the worst I have stayed in for a very long time. After the initial disappointment that we were staying in a crap hole, it was quite the adventure! On a side note the worst sleep I have ever had prior to a Marathon was in Melbourne 2010, where Luke booked accom and never informed me that there was no bed for Hayden and I. When we arrived at 10pm the night of the marathon we had to sleep on the floor. Certainly not ideal.

After a quick nap we then went down to the expo to meet Donald and his mum. Things were about to get real. We collected our Marathon bibs, and I collected Luke's as he was a late entry (more on this later). We had a great look through the expo. Bel was onto me about spending money, so I refrained from buying anything new (although I wanted another GC jacket).

At the expo I had the pleasure of meeting Trent Morrow - Marathon Man he was so inspiring and really just pumped us up even more. As he spoke to Donald I could see the impact his words and advice (someone who has run 160 marathons in a calender year and holds the world record) was having on him. Donald just soaked all of his words up and was ready to run as soon as he finished!

Pex and Marathon Man

After the expo we headed our separate ways and had some lunch, Brenden and I had a feed of noodles which was pretty good. After another rest on our comfy beds, I headed off to meet Donald and his mum to go to the AFL.

Now I know that you shouldnt be out the night before a race, BUT the Pies and Suns were playing and I had never seen a live AFL match. It was an unreal experience - so much better live than on TV. Unfortunately the Pies lost in a close one (Donald is a Pies tragic) we were home in bed by 8.30pm - in time to watch a bit of Le Tour.

Suns home stadium
All of my gear was set up ready for the race. It actually didnt feel like we were running a marathon, I was super relaxed. Feeling really fresh and ready to suffer. Little did I know what was coming.

After breakfast we went and picked Donald up, and headed to Australia Fair for Brenden to grab a muffin and coffee from McDonalds. This is where I made a couple of really rookie nutrition errors. Whilst I was trying to keep Donald calm and I planning on how I was going to get Luke's bib to him I had forgotten to look after myself. By that I simply didnt take stock of my own needs.

I took a whole gel 30mins from the start as I usually do, but didnt have any water with me - and I planned to grab some in the toilet - but it had a huge line. By the time we got across to the road to the start line and waited another 10 minutes for Luke to arrive to get his bib, I was really needing a drink. The lovely physios from Griffith Uni gave me a free bottle of water and I filled my handheld and had a couple of small sips.

As I sipped Deek gave his speech over the microphone, I made it back to Donald and Brenden for the national anthem and BOOM we were away. After the first KM I felt pretty good, but by the second km I had a bad stomach pain/like a stitch but in my stomach - by not diluting that Gel it just sat in there. My pace was Ok for the first KM - about 5.03 pace but it felt harder than it should, the next 5k was around the 5.10 pace and I lost Brenden soon after. By 15km I was suffering and by 17km I had started to vomit. Essentially it was the same issue with my stomach that I have in Ultra's BUT I had caused it early in the race! Well this is a first.

Between 20-30km was some of the worst suffering, I just felt sick the whole time - running to the point of being sick, then dry reaching. I was in a world of hurt, Ultra marathon style. My race was over. I had nothing positive to pull out of it, or so I thought. As I pass over the little hill and through the 32km point, I decided to buy a can of Coke. I walked into the shop, bought the coke. Sat down and sipped it. It tasted like pure gold in my mouth. I then started to jog, and I could jog without being sick, I was moving again and was able to get back to moving and jogging along. Because I had walk ran the previous 10k I wasnt sore - so the last 10k was probably my best. I was just able to get back to grinding the kms out. Not fast but certainly faster than the previous 10k.

As I went through the finish zone all I could think of was an ultra, was today the blueprint for how I can climb my way out of a stomach distress? Did sitting down and slowly sipping the Coke enable me to keep going? I believe it did. I really think that I have found a magic bullet. To relax, take a few minutes and get nutrition on, I was able to run again. A small flame of hope lit up, maybe I could return and have a crack at another Ultra.

When I finished - I was pretty spent. I was glad to be done and in no real shape to do another 10k, besides - there is no way Donald would be in front of the 9.15pace cut offs. I had seen him at around 18 and he was struggling then....

Big M had the awesome news of running 3.36, holly shit thats so close to 3.30 it isnt funny. I was so pumped for him I immediatly forgot about my own terrible day and started to bask in his! I played a small part in getting him into shape, so that was a really good feeling.

Brenden and I went around to find the "lost and found" area and sure and shit, he had just passed the 30km point and was still well in front of the cut off!!! WTF!

Brenden said "I want to do this" he was ready to run again, so we went and waited for him across the road and as he approach both the boys set off on the final 10km,

What happened on the road over the next 2hrs I have no exact details, Donald proceeded to climb into the biggest hurt box of his life. Willing his body further than it had ever gone before. The tears of not knowing if he would be able to finish overcame him a number of times. Was it going to be possible? He had slowly fallen below the cut off time, he was in last place and as 2pm approached I waited at the finish. 6.40 race time passed on the clock - still no sign of Donald or Brenden.

I asked one of the race officials if they would allow him to finish and they said yes, I just hoped that he kept pushing to finish.

At 7.05 official race time both of them came into view. Donald made his way under the finish and we embraced. Tears of joy flowed from his face. He was a Marathoner. A finisher. No one can ever take that away from him. He had proved everyone wrong, including me. He wanted that finish so badly that he was prepared to suffer through 7hrs of hell for it. He climbed into the trench and fought his was to victory. The lesson for both of us is that it is never over. No matter how you think your day might be over, just to dig in. I thought I could suffer, but watching Donald gives me a new appreciation for suffering.

Big M & Pex

Before and After

In the wash up - I have to concentrate on looking after myself. I really messed my day up by not doing that. Melbourne will be about me.

I am so proud of Donald for suffering through, as he sits back and watches Spirit of the Marathon he is now part of the club. A Marathoner. A Finisher. He earned his not in 4hrs or 5hrs BUT in 7hrs of suffering. A Legend is Made.