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Saturday, 11 April 2015

London Marathon 2015 (Week 10 of 12)

Week 10

The 10th week certainly goes down as another memorable one, both in terms of running locations and for the little race that we took part in as our final run of the week, The Canberra ACT Marathon.

The midweek runs were mainly Freedom parkruns at some stunning locations around New South Wales apart from Monday's 6 miler around Centennial Park and Sydney Cricket Ground, little did we know at the time that this venue was going to be at the forefront of world attention a couple of days later.

Although the week looks like a planned parkrun tour, it was more a case of parkrun courses happening to be nearby as we went about our exploring of Australia. It really does hit home just how parkrun has caught the imagination just as enthusiastically in Oz has it has back in the UK.

Week 10 of 12 (Mon 6/4 - Sun 12/4)

Mon 6/4 : 6.0 miles @ 8:45mile (Centennial Park and Sydney Cricket Ground)
Tues 7/4 : 3.1 miles @ 8:36/mile (Parramatta parkrun Freedom)
Tues 7/4 : 3.1 miles @ 8:34/mile (Penrith Lakes parkrun Freedom)
Weds 8/4 : 3.1 miles @ 9:28/mile (Blackheath, Blue Mountains)
Thurs 9/4 : 3.1 miles @ 8:53/mile (Lawson parkrun Freedom)
Thurs 9/4 : 3.1 miles @ 8:47/mile (Campbelltown parkrun Freedom)
Fri 10/4 : 3.1 miles @ 9:00/mile (Shellharbour parkrun Freedom)
Sat 11/4 : 4.0 miles incl  Ginninderra parkrun 20:00 (3.1 miles @ 6:27/mile)
Sun 12/4 : 26.21 miles @ 6:35/mile Canberra Marathon 2:52:10 (15th)

Total Mileage - 54.8 miles

Mon 6th April - Centennial Park & Sydney Cricket Ground :

The famous Sydney Cricket Ground was taken in on our final run in Sydney before heading off for a couple of days in the Blue Mountains:

Tues 7th April - Parramatta parkrun :

On the way to Blackheath in the Blue Mountains there was an opportunity to take in a couple of parkrun venues with an Olympic connection.

Firstly, Parramatta parkrun is directly on the other side of the Parramatta river to the Olympic Park for Sydney 2000. It may not be too apparent from this photo but trust me there is a fully fledged Olympic park hiding behind those trees:

Tuesday 7th April - Penrith Lakes parkrun :

A couple of hours later the venue was Penrith Lakes, which was the event centre for the rowing events at Sydney 2000.

Now this is my kind of parkrun course - a 2km long course which provides a full 5k by running one loop. A parkrun where it is impossible to get lost, nirvana :) :)

Wednesday 8th April - Jenolah Caves :

While in the Black Mountains, it is a must to visit the underground cave network at Jenolah. This is nothing to do with running but is included here simply because the two tours that we undertook involved approx 950 steps according to the guides.

This may have either a negative or positive effect on a marathon 3-4 days later so is worth noting for future reference:

Sat 11th April - Ginninderra parkrun (20:00)

After another three Freedom parkruns at Lawson, Campbelltown and Shellharbour on Thursday and Friday it was then on to Canberra for the official parkrun at Ginninderra, a course set in breathtaking scenery. The photos don't really do it justice but this was one parkrun you just didn't want to end.

A time of 20:00 was in line with the kind of time run in other recent pre marathon parkruns, ie approx a dress rehearsal of the first 5k of the marathon the next day.

Sun 12th April - 2015 Canberra ACT Marathon 2:52:10 (15th)

As we hadn't run a marathon since Wrexham on 8th March, a whole 5 weeks ago, a ready made opportunity to enjoy a 26.2 mile tour of the Australian capital was too hard to resist. London may be  only 2 weeks away but, from recent experience, quirky build ups can often be more informative than the text book alternative.

So onto the race and the earliest I've ever had to get my carcass to the start line of a marathon- 6:25am!

At least that was the aim but at 6:22am there were still 3 people ahead in the loo queue. Was I really in the Australian capital early on a Sunday morning trying desperately to calculate the average time of a runners pre-race poo?

Starting between the old parliament building, a very impressive place to have a look around, and the Aboriginal tent embassy this promised to be a marathon course with plenty of interest.

The course

The course had been changed from previous years to make it more interesting:

However, as a result of these changes there was now a pretty testing second half and both Hannah and myself found the road surface to be hard going in comparison with other road marathons.

There were also a whole host of turnaround points, which ordinarily would be bad news for me but thankfully most of them were actually large roundabouts which were fine for accommodating my oil tankeresque turning techniques.

When you get views like this mid run though the changes were probably worth it:
(Photo courtesy of Becky Chant)

The race

So off we went at 6:25am in perfect conditions, still and about 8c, but with the prospect of mid 20s temperatures by the time the finishing line was reached.

It was hard to know what kind of shape the legs were in as we haven't raced for two weeks and there has been a lot of walking around exploring for the last 4 weeks, which may or may not have helped.

As such, it was reassuring when the early kms were ticking over at around 4:00/km or just under.

With around 1,000 runners there was plenty space on the course and by 10km it was well strung out but the various turnaround points provided lots of opportunities to see how the race was developing both at the front and a bit further back.

0-10k (39:41) (Hannah 41:06)

The first 10k was untroubled and a bit downhill overall so provided a good roll out to get the event under way. The first chance to see how the ladies race was getting on was at the turnaround point at about 10k.

There were 4 ladies in front of me at this point and Hannah was 1:25 back in about 8th position. It was early days though and it was quite tightly packed at the front with all the leading ten moving along at between 2:50-2:55 pace.

10k-20k (40:12) (Hannah 40:41)

This section was a long dual carriageway which would have been fine except for the previously mentioned surface, which seemed harder and more energy sapping than usual. It gave the perception that you were moving a lot slower than you actually were. Still, it was the same for everyone so head down and concentrate on the rhythm.

The next turnaround point was at 19k. I had just overtaken the lady in 2nd place before the turnaround so was encouraged to see Hannah coming the other way not long after. If my counting was right, she was now up to 4th. 

This was getting interesting as if Hannah could gain one more place over the second half of the race then there was a $500 prize (about £260) for 3rd place, although she herself was totally unaware of this during the race.

20k-30k (40:02) (Hannah 41:04)

The third 10k was starting to go up and down a bit more than had been bargained for. It was feeling tough compared to the same stage at Wrexham but despite the increased course severity the pace was holding up and positions were being gained, so there wasn't much to be concerned about really.

There was a turnaround point at about 23.5k just after I'd overtaken the leading lady. Hannah now seemed to be a bit closer to the leader and possibly in 3rd but at this particular turn point it was quite difficult to tell.

30k-42.2k (52:12) (Hannah 51:32)

Now for the final 12k and it was becoming a grind on some of the climbs. Nevertheless there was still reassurance coming from the fact that on sections that were relatively level for a while the legs were coming back to life and re establishing a comfortable rhythm, so I was happy that there wasn't a major falling apart type death march coming, just a course induced leg wearying grind.

37k offered the next view of the ladies race and it looked from my viewpoint that Hannah was now in 2nd place and nowhere near as far behind the leader as the last time I saw them. It was hard to estimate but possibly a minute gap now, which was a lot smaller then previously but still a huge gap to close over just 5k.

It was extremely unlikely but if the leader did run into a bit of trouble you never know.....

The Finish

Unlike the parkrun the previous day I was counting down the last few kms of this one and was going to be quite happy to see the finish line after the graft of the second half.

The 42km marker is usually quite close to the finish line, 200m would be about right. Not on this occasion though, the finish line was nowhere to be seen. There was a good 300m before turning into the finishing straight which was itself another 200m or so.

2:52:10 was better than expected after feeling so slow on the unforgiving road sections. When the results came through, they showed that the position had improved from 20th at halfway to 15th at the finish. And all done before 9:30am :)

After crossing the line I then proceeded to incur the wrath of the funnel managers by loitering alongside the photographers and TV crews to see the end of the ladies race. It wasn't going to be more than a minute or two after all.

The announcer started building the crescendo towards the first female finisher and as she appeared with about 50m to go I could already see Hannah in the finishing straight behind her. Not close enough but that gap had really closed over the closing stages to a mere 32 seconds.

2nd place was rewarded with $1,000 (about £520), which as Hannah's biggest ever prize just about trumps my biggest ever cash prize of £20 in the 2013 Spencer's Arms series in Barnsley :p

32 seconds is 32 seconds and you can't just find that sort of time at the end of a marathon if the legs say no but I think Hannah is still asking herself some what if type questions - if only she had known that she was in 2nd earlier, known where the leader was and actually known that the 32secs was worth another $1,000. Good questions to ask but this Canberra performance can go down as nothing other than a hard fought for success story :)

On Saturday we had breakfast with Becky Chant, a parkrunner from Queensland. 

After driving 1200km to get to Canberra this was to be her first ever marathon. We all know what can happen in first marathons and how everything you have ever read can turn to absolute nothingness once the reality of what happens at 20 miles and beyond sets in.

But it appeared to me that Becky didn't seem overly apprehensive about the task. Her apparent confidence was well placed as can be seen from the results below. For a first marathon that consistency of pacing is brilliant. It took me about 30 marathons to get one anywhere near that consistent. Congratulations Becky and good luck with the next effort at the Gold Coast Marathon :)

This is now the updated list of marathons on the comeback trail:

Recent Marathon Record

2009 April - Blackpool Marathon 3:24:17 (Age 42)
2009 September - Fleetwood Marathon DNF (Age 43)
2010 October - Amsterdam Marathon 3:04:27 (Age 44)
2010 November - Milton Keynes Track Marathon DNF (Age 44)
2011 April - London Marathon 3:18:30 (Age 44)
2012 April - London Marathon 2:57:04 (Age 45)
2012 October - Chester 2:55:36 (Age 46)
2013 April - London Marathon 3:11:29 (Age 46)
2013 June - Cork Marathon 3:06:19 (Age 47)
2013 October - Budapest Marathon 2:58:53 (Age 47)
2013 December - Lancaster Marathon 2:54:17 (Age 47) (1st)
2013 December - Pisa Marathon 2:54:09 (Age 47)
2014 April - Manchester Marathon 2:51:52 (Age 47)
2014 April - London Marathon 2:57:52 (Age 47)
2014 June - Rhyl Marathon 2:58:24 (Age 48)
2014 October - Yorkshire Marathon 2:47:34 (Age 48)
2014 October - Dublin Marathon 2:58:53 (Age 48)
2014 November - Town Moor Marathon 2:54:56 (Age 48) (1st)
2015 March - Wrexham Marathon 2:48:12 (Age 48) (5th)
2015 April - Canberra ACT Marathon 2:52:10 (Age 48) (15th)

2015 April - London Marathon ??:??:?? (Age 48)

Marathon Building Blocks:

15th Feb: 18.6 miles @ 6:16/mile
22nd Feb: 10.0 miles @ 6:04/mile
28th Feb: 3.1 miles @ 5:48/mile
28th Feb: 3.1 miles @ 5:50/mile
1st March: 13.1 miles @ 6:24/mile
8th March: 26.21 miles @ 6:23/mile
14th March: 3.1 miles @ 5:46/mile
14th March: 3.1 miles @ 5:36/mile
15th March: 20.0 miles @ 6:25/mile
21st March: 3.1 miles @ 5:45/mile
22nd March: 9.65 miles @ 6:18/mile
28th March: 3.1 miles @ 5:45/mile
29th March:  11.2 miles @ 6:08/mile)
4th April: 3.1 miles @ 6:00/mile
12th April: 26.21 miles @ 6:35/mile

Just two weeks to go now before 35,000 line up on Blackheath common. There won't be much training as such between the two marathons but there will be some sort of running every day to keep everything working.

First of all though there will be a week in Perth followed by an attempt to unjetlag in time for VMLM.

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