l Iike the North Shore Marathon. There were some who wrote it off after the unclear directions and lack of aid station supplies in the 2011 edition. But the views are great, the course is varied and challenging and the price is right. So I gave it another shot this year.
My plan was to use the event as a long progression run. That is; do the first 37k at comfortable pace (faster than usual long runs but not full marathon pace) then up the ante and bring home the last 5k as I would intend to at Auckland marathon – my goal race.
I had some registration difficulties. I was looking after Heidi on Saturday when I realised I hadn’t made it over to Takapuna to pick up my rego. I checked the website and called the rego premises – no answer. I resigned myself to trying to pick up my race pack early Sunday before the race. No dice there – no race pickup on Sunday. So I had to run the race old school style – no microchip or number, just me and the watch (and clothing and shoes in case you are concerned).
The small field of 60 or so guys assembled on Takapuna Beach for the 7 am start. The sun was sneaking over Rangitoto and it looked like we were in for a cracker winter’s day. We took off heading south along the beach. The pace was pretty gentle and Myles and I were just behind the front group of three. I felt good, and we made our way down to Belmont at about 4:20 pace. We were popped out onto the soft sand of Cheltenham beach before tackling the punchy offroad climb of North Head. I snuck a quick glance at the view and then headed North, back to Takapuna and onto Milford. I was comfortable and moved into third position (I think) behind Lane Harold and another guy. I passed through the half-way point in 1:31:53. Onto the second lap I pulled away from Nathan Round who I had been chatting with for the last few k and happened upon a slowed-up Lane as I headed up past Takapuna College. The pace was still feeling easy and I wasn’t working hard. The sands on Cheltenham made me ache though – I don’t remember getting such a sore butt in an event before. But aches are not unexpected at 28k into a marathon.
I had to work a bit harder from 30k on and there were plenty of half marathoners to weave between. Just after Takapuna I hit the 37k mark, turned my beats on and upped the pace. It wasn’t easy. I think my plan of running comfortably may have been usurped by my competitive urges back in lap one when I realised I was close behind second place. Still, I was able to hold my pace and knocked the last 5k off in less than 20 minutes so mission accomplished. I crossed the line in 3:02:15, thinking I was second. I talked to Vern, Ian and Myles for a bit then heard the announcer welcome the ‘first marathoner’ across the finish around 3:05.
It was cool to get a win – even if just against a few fellas at this local event. I will take it! The problems of not having your chip on for the race mean I have been recorded as finishing in 3:05 but I will email the race director about that.
My other goal was to finish in decent shape as I have the final Xterra next Sunday. I am feeling better than after last year or any of my previous road marathons so I reckon I’m OK. I didn’t regularly run/walk this time, but did walk through the aid stations. My thinking now is that the best way to finish in good shape is to 1) do plenty of training 2) run at an easier pace than you can. This year I have done more training than last and that’s what has made the difference. I’m feeling really good about having a proper crack at my PB at the Auckland Marathon in October, maybe even a sub 2:50. But we’ll have to see about that.