From Richard Palmer:
I arrived back in Australiafrom the USA on September 16th and I learnt that I had been selected to run in the ANSW team for the Melbourne marathon on October 14th!
This was great news as I had missed running this Marathon the year before due to injury and it was a marathon I wanted to do as it’s a great course, cool conditions and it finishes in the MCG. My only concern was it was in 4 weeks. I had a good base from my triathlon training and had 3 weeks to get running and squeeze a few long runs in. It was a bit like cramming for and exam but I figured it would be worth pursuing. So I sat down and worked out a plan that had me running 140km a week for 3 weeks then a 10km race and one weeks taper. Armed with my plan I hit the road and trails.
Training went well and got to the 10km Sydney Striders Homebush race without injury but quite tired after 3 tough weeks of training. I ran ok considering I was tired and the course is not one that lends itself to fast times. I managed to run a 35.30 and came home strong so all the hard work was paying off. I got my ANSW singlet on the Thursday before the race and was ready to give this marathon a crack. Flew down Saturday morning and ANSW put us up in the Mecure in the centre ofMelbourne.
At the race briefing under the MCG they distributed our race numbers. I managed to get number 42 which I quite like and the other nice part of the race bib was the sticker that said ‘Elite Athlete’. I run ok but I am not am elite athlete so I was feeling way out of my depth here. It was a great experience to see how these athletes are treated and watch them go through their warm ups and preparation. The athlete briefing was done in the media room of the MCG where the grand final signs were still up showing which dressing rooms were used by Hawthorn andSydney. In the room was a collection of mostly skinny white runners all about 20kgto 30kg lighter than me and a few Kenyans.
It was an interesting briefing where I learnt that you could have outside assistance from family and friends in the race but they could not ride a bike beside you or collect your drinks from aid stations and hand them to you. They had to be stationary. Very different to Triathlon rules were there is no outside assistance allowed.
Outside the MCG the expo was also on and a massive line for all the other competitors to collect their race numbers. The queue was massive and people had to wait over an hour and a half. Compared to the Gold Coast marathon Expo this one was quite pathetic. At the expo I meet the Gold Coast race director who was down to run the marathon and also is the coach of Kristen Molloy. Nice chap called Ryan and it was interesting to talk to him about the differences between the two marathons and their organisation.
Race morning and an early start with the alarm going off at 5am. My roommate Paul McClarnon and I got up, had some breakfast and got ready. The race director had organised buses for the Elite runners so that made getting to the MCG easy. We also had access to the MCG dressing room, toilets, showers, massage people, food, drink and physios. Thirty minutes prior to the start they gathered up all the elite athletes and walked us over to the start. This elite stuff is great! We could warm up in front of the start and they took your warm clothing back to the dressing rooms. Before you knew it we were lined up and singing the national anthem. I managed to get a reasonable position on the start line between these two fastish looking runners (see picture). Steve Moneghetti said some encouraging words and BANG we were off.
First 5km was smooth and hassle free. I was running with Jane Fardell who ranBoston3 weeks prior in 2.45. My aim for this marathon was to get to half way in 1hr 22 and try and maintain that pace. So I used the km markers and Garmin to do first 10km in 38.23 which was right on my forecast pace. 20km can up in 1hr 17 which was also right on target. Half way passed at 1 hr 22. Spot on! I just tried to relax and concentrated on the running tips from Rob Higley and drinking/gels at the aid stations. The course at this stage had taken us from the city ofMelbourneout the St Kilda rd and into Albert Park for a lap. Then we ran along St Kilda foreshore right up to Port Melbourne and back along the whole seafront of St Kilda. Great location and perfect weather for running.
Got to see the leaders who were flying and a big group with Scott Westcott tucked in. Also saw Vlad running strong but by himself. At 30km I noted I was 1hr 57min which again was right on target. Felt good and was running smoothly at this stage. This continued until about 35km when the course started to get a bit hilly in and around the botanical gardens. Started seeing a few 4 min kms at this stage and fought as hard as I could to maintain pace but my 3 weeks of cramming was starting to show and my lack of long runs was catching up with me. It was about 39km I got pasted by a couple of people and nobody had got past me since 10km mark so I knew it was starting to get tough. Struggled on and was very happy to get to the MCG.
Running the last 300m on a track around the MCG was a great way to finish this marathon off. Got back a couple of spots and pushed on to finish in 2hr 48.15 which is a new PB as previously I had run a 2.49.12 at Gold Coast 2008. Happy to run a PB but feel there is plenty of room for improvement.