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!