On Sunday I ran my first ever marathon in Melbourne and most of it went really well, but at about 35k I was just done, I knew I was not going to achieve my goal pace (3:04:00) and I was pretty sure that my Boston marathon qualifying time (3:15:00) was out of the window too. I had stopped to walk twice and could not see myself getting moving again under any circumstances. Then along can the guy in the yellow visor and the Sydney Striders singlet. I knew I had friends waiting for me at the finish line but was running the race alone, I had just stopped to walk for the third time at a drink station when I heard “c’mon buddy, you’re coming with us” shouted from just behind me, I turned to see a youngster who I had seen walking ahead of me a couple of times and yellow visor guy coming towards me letting me know that I needed to join them and start running again. I did just that and for the last 5k of the race the man who my investigations lead me to believe is Ben Streckeisen talked me through the pain and the negative thoughts and got me across the line in 3:13:55, 9 minutes shy of my goal but a minute under my Boston qualifying goal.
I belong to a run club who believe that encouragement and support are the way to progress and succeed, and experiencing this from a stranger was like being home in Perth running with friends, once Ben took me along he spoke encouragement and positivity into the hardest part of my run and changed the day for me and turned my race around. I found him to give him a sweaty hug once he crossed the line but was a little too emotional and exhausted to say thank you properly and express how much his selflessness and supportive words really meant to me.
I hope you are able to get this to him and if not just know that your club has been represented by an incredible human being who was to me the true winner on Sunday morning.
I blew up at 24km aiming for a 2.52. A training partner ran past at around 27km and tried to encourage me to stick with her. I told her that I was done; my rubber band was stretched. Thankfully she went on, ran her PB and to her race goal of 2:58. My plan B was sub 3hrs and that went at around 29km; my rubber band had snapped. I was in a world of hurt along St Kilda Road and thought about jumping in front of a tram to end it a couple of times. I may have even been delusional as I swear I spoke to Craig Mottram as he ran passed me pacing a buddy of his. I walked through one of the last aid stations along there and was given some support by another fellow runner with a friendly tap on the shoulder keep at it. Plan C came into effect which was to finish what I had started, just finish and I told myself that time did not matter. It was around 37km just before the rise of the Tan that I then decided to take with me anyone else who I could convince that the clock did not matter anymore. So if I saw someone walking or standing I went up to them and told them that they were coming with us and that I’d be there by their side and we would finish this together. I would tell the group that “time didn’t matter, concentrate on form and let’s keep going together”. I think I picked up about 4 or 5 people and Graham would have been one of these. I ended in 3:14:48 my second slowest marathon from 9 attempts, only slower than my debut in 2005. Funnily I ran 17 seconds faster in Canberra in March this year pacing 3:15. I’m ecstatic to hear that Graham achieved a Boston qualifier with a small amount of encouragement from me when I was broken, well and truly broken.