It’s official! I am now a marathoner with a debut personal best time of 3:25:56.
When I started training for the (local) Wellington Marathon I had no specific time goal in mind. My main focus was to train well & make it to the start with no injuries & being able to finish the distance in relative (dis)comfort. Having done quite a few half marathons this was kind of a big deal to have a Marathon under my belt.
I am not a fast runner or an gifted athlete by any stretch of imagination. However, I like to think that I am focused & disciplined when it comes to training, because I know that one can’t simply turn up & run a marathon with little to no training. Some people might be able to but that’s not me & I’ve done enough research to know that if you put our body through such stress as running a marathon with little to no training the long term risks to your health can be very significant.
Training for this marathon was also a way for me to learn about nutrition, physiology & experimenting with my own training program. I set out a 16 week program loosely taking some training schedule guidance from the book “Advanced Marathoning” and as a first time Marathoner the information in this book was very valuable. For example I learned about Glycogen depletion, Hydration & how to avoid some of the common mistakes in training, learned about allowing the body to recover, about threshold training and a whole lot more. In the end all of these mattered, even in the last 2 weeks when faced with a possible injury the guiding principals of recovery was fundamental in being able to start with a positive attitude & completing the marathon. (Which I must add was far better time than I thought I’d be able to).
Due to the bad weather Wellington had in the 3-4 days prior to the event the organisers had to change the Marathon course. Wellington’s south coast road was a mess after the massive storm, with winds of upto 140km/h & waves that breached over the protective walls damaging most of the roads. We had non stop rain for 2 days & Saturday prior to the event it just rained non stop. Nevertheless in true Wellington style it all cleared up on Sunday (race day) morning with only a southerly breeze of about 20-30kms at start & this diminished towards the middle part of the race & by the end the sun was out! So in terms of race conditions of a mid-winter marathon it was pretty good.
The start was at the WestPac stadium & I got to the start around 7am to meet up with my training buddies whom I have done most of my longer runs with. Some of them were aiming for PBs having done previous marathons. I was just happy to start. It was a bit chilly so we huddled to the start & after a short briefing about the course change we were off right on 7:30am.
Prior to the race I broke my race into 4 phases. First an easy steady warm up of 8kms just under 5min per Km pace, I had no intention of running hard out from the start. Next a steady 16kms to get me to halfway around 4:45-5:00 but with the option of dropping down to 5:15 if things started hurting. I passed the half marathon point in 1:41 which was a tad faster than I thought, however I was feeling pretty comfortable so I kept a steady pace of around 4:45min per Km. Once I got to 32km I wanted to run the last 10kms at about 4:35-4:45 pace. With the course having been altered there was a short out & back section so I could see the leaders & the chasers. There were few of the club runners whom I knew so it was good to cheer them on a couple of times. Once the twice out & back was completed the course continued on back to the WestPac stadium via the same route. This incidentally was also the point where the half marathon runners merged with the marathoners. I hit this point just as the 2:00hr half marathon pacer & following group merged. I cruised past them & kept on a steady pace. At around 36km marker my legs started seizing up, it was a bit frustrating a physically I was not tired & with my legs seizing up my pace started to drop gradually to around 5:15 per Km. In the end I was finished in 3:25:56 which I am very very happy about!
During the run I had a packet of Gu Chomps (Orange Flavour) with me which was my main fuel source for the whole run along with regular water and electrolytes on offer at fuel stations.
So there you have it, my first marathon and it was a great experience. Here is a map of the course from my Garmin stats. Results online at: http://tiktok.biz/wellingtonmarathon/2013/
If you are planning to run a marathon for the first time here is my advice:
- Run at least 2-3 half marathons before you attempt a full marathon
- Give your self at least a 12 week period to train adequately
- Do at least 3-4 long runs of 30km or more during your training
- Add some speed work gradually (5k races are great for speed work)
- Learn about nutrition and hydration and what works for you
- Taper for at least 2 weeks
With that I’d also like to thank everyone who has sent me best wishes via twitter and by posting comments on the blog. As some of you know I posted about the small competition I ran for my readers on guessing my marathon finish time. I would like say congrats to @talkingtothecan who guessed the closet time of 3:24!
I am taking a break from running for a week and will be back into training with the main focus being the Able Tasman Trail Run in late September this year. This is one of New Zealand’s epic trail runs and I am looking forward to it!