My second attempt at the Adelaide Marathon, or any marathon for that matter. The first was back in 2007 and I think I am a much different runner now…and a wiser one. The 2007 marathon was an – out too fast, crawl home on your knees affair to be forgotten, well not forgotten, learned from.
The goal for this year was not to have a repeat performance, aiming for about 4hr15mins or 6 min/k pace.
A decent crowd (read close to 300) started the marathon at Santos Stadium with half a lap of the tartan track and then a full loop around the outside of the stadium before heading in the general direction of Glenelg along the old railway line. I settled into a smooth rhythm and seemed to find myself 20 m off the back of a rough group of 8 or 9 other runners zeroed in on 6 min/k pace. It stayed like that all the way to Glenelg North, but as we dog legged around to do a lap of the lake I started moving through the group. I don’t think I increased my pace at all, they all just appeared to slow as we got passed 15k and I ended up on the foreshore out in front.
On the coast the wind was gusting from the West, off the sea, which was swollen and lapping at the rocks at a very high tide under a dull grey sky. I really enjoyed the wildness of the foreshore this year, especially as the wind was not blowing in my face and instead buffeted me from the side. I was still on pace and ran through halfway in 2hr8mins, 5 minutes slower than 2007, and 2 minutes slower than my ideal pace, but hey, I was still feeling fresh in the legs.
Crossing over the Torrens and heading toward Grange, I was met head on with the mid pack of the marathon and half marathon. I lost a bit of concentration here, as I was saying hi to every runner I knew (which is quite a lot now) and getting some high fives…the pace increased a little as I sped up to look strong for the runners returning from Grange, puffing out the chest and putting on a stupid grin. Luckily it was only a kilometer before the outward course diverted to the city side of the dune, but I had made up some of the time I had lost to be back on 6min/k pace.
As usual, this section dragged on, with the only entertainment being joking with and encouraging the runners I was reeling in and overtaking and greeting all the wonderful marshals. All the while I was straining my eyes to see if the next street sign said Terminus Street or if the cones continued passed the next round-a-bout. So it was with great relief that I eventually rounded terminus street and climbed back up over the now concrete and bitumen dune to the beach and started the journey back to Santos Stadium.
Halfway back to the Torrens the rain started, it was only light, and was rather refreshing, even if it was whipping in off the sea. The rain didn’t last long and I was still making slow and steady progress through the field but starting to fade a touch. To my relief, I spotted George and Jane in the distance as I started down the Torrens giving me someone I knew to chase. That provided stimulus for at least a couple of kilometers as I zeroed in but after catching them I ran out of steam. There was no stopping me this time but the pace slipped a little more.
After a brief bathroom break, I seemed to find new determination to see this thing out and set about counting down the kilometres to go. I was quite surprised at how out of breath I was, given how slow the pace was, when I walked through the last water station and tried to have a drink of water. Running the last stretch through Thebarton, passing all the struggling runners, now walking, walk/running or slow shuffling their way back to Santos Stadium was great for the confidence. I felt their pain, only two years ago I was there, but today I was running the right race strategy and I was going to make it to the finish in one piece.
Then I finally turned onto Henley Beach Road and sputtered toward the home stretch. My fuel tank was empty and I was faced with the fiercest urge to take a non-drink station walk break. Luckily, once I had staggered across James Congdon drive the temptation passed because I could taste the finish (or was that the salt ecrusted on my face?). Running on empty now I willed myself to the finish line, once again puffing out the chest and trying to appear strong and in control as I ran around the track finishing in 4hr18mins to the cheers of fellow runners and spectators.
Finally a solid run.