In all honesty it wasn’t until 4pm the day before that I committed to really race the marathon. My hesitancy had started back in Autumn, when we found out that the event was going to be held at the same time as the Rugby World Cup final. I initially wrote off the idea of competing and missing the game.
As time went on though, I could just tell that despite that decision, I really wanted to run. I’d had a great Winter season, started Spring with a new 21.1k PB and so decided to go with my passion and run the marathon. With the Xterra Waihi and a few niggles though, I didn’t get any specific road marathon work done in the last 5 weeks.
Also, my big goal for Spring is the upcoming SkyRockNRun mountain marathon down in Canterbury. With only 3 weeks between the Auckland Marathon and that one, I thought it would be smarter to just enter the Auckland run for a good long training run, but not race.
I even made a great plan for a glorious 42k of eating and drinking – a “Calorie Positive Marathon” (this idea will have to do be done some other time). But once again, as I sat down to plan the next day’s run, I could hear my running legs (as Heidi says) calling – they wanted at least a chance to go fast.
So a new plan: run at what would be marathon PB pace until halfway – then reassess if it’s worth continuing at that effort (and thrashing the body), or just toning down and jogging the rest for a good long run with a bit of tempo to start. Brent was keen to join, and Ron would meet us at O’Hagan’s for the second half.
We watched the first half of the RWC in a cool SW breeze, before making our way down to the line. My lapse in preparation was not going to pee before the start, and not bringing enough gear for sitting still and watching a match in a light gale. But the pace from the start felt sweet, and Brent and I chugged along – me listening to the rugby and updating our group of the All Black’s progress.
Getting onto the Northern Motorway we really noticed that breeze in our face so we tucked into a small group as much as possible, and were somewhat concerned that it could take away our chance at a best time. Over the harbour bridge and round to Curran St I was still feeling sweet but needed to duck into the bushes for a mimi. Brent and the other four were up the road after that, but I felt great and made it my goal to slowly/steadily reattach to the group.
It took longer than I thought, and I noticed I was surging a little at times through Wynyard Quarter with this goal driving me on. I told myself to take it easy as no good could come of expending that effort before half way. Brent told me afterward that they had all lifted the pace at this point – so no wonder I was struggling to catch up.
I went through the half in 1:27 plus change. On target, and within 30 sec of last year’s split. Brent was only 50m ahead and Ron cheered us from the sidelines. As did a myriad of cheery, boozy punters emerging from the bars. I’ve never had so much support through the viaduct before!
Running out along the waterfront, I was feeling very good. Still running within myself, the pace was spot on, and the effort and heart rate were sustainable. I caught Brent at the Ngapipi Road bridge, where Dad began supporting us on his bike.
As we got into Okahu Bay, Brent started to slow as he felt cramps start to settle in. I stayed on pace, and shouted some encouragement as he drifted back. I got a huge lift from Sam Thom plus whanau who were out in force at Kohimarama beach. Hit the turn at St Heliers, and unlike last year I just kept the pace constant. Runners kept coming to me as I stayed steady and I knew I would need to finish stronger than last time to get the best time.
Good call, as the race just seems to come to you in the marathon. You don’t need to go seeking the hurt – if you are giving an honest effort, it will find you. The effort to hold my pace steadily increased, but I was able to rise to it as I had been reasonable from the start. The SW winds weren’t too much a problem – it felt like you got gusts in both directions as you round the headlands so going back into town was similar to coming out, wind-wise.
I managed to have a little bit more to give for the last 4 or 5 km. Just a few seconds per km, but that felt like a heck of a lot at that stage in the game. I rallied for a fast finish, but was actually very spent so it wasn’t a blistering final 200. Still – I crossed in 2:54:41 – beating my 2004 time by almost a minute!
Another great day with some great results all round from the MEC – all 5 of us finished (yay) and got best times.
Thanks to all the cheering entourage, especially Stu for the steady support and photos you see here.