What a fabulous few days in Queensland for the Gold Coast Marathon weekend. Leading up to the weekend the weather had been cold and wet, but fortuitously the Gold Coast turned on its best for the weekend.
We arrived on the last Friday in June to sunshine although there had been rain earlier in the morning. It seemed to evaporate as the racers descended onto the Gold Coast.
Last year and this year, I’ve booked in at Meriton Serviced Apartments in Southport, which is only a short walk to the start and finish lines. Great facilities and so close to the start – I wouldn’t stay anywhere else leading up to the race! Rakesh is already planning to book in for next year!
In our troop of competitors we had the 5.7km, the half marathon and marathon all covered. Diane and Stuart were competing in the 5.7km on the Saturday. Kerry and Rachel in the Half Marathon at 6am on the Sunday and Rakesh, Samantha, Damien and I in the Marathon kicking off at 7:20am on the Sunday.
We made our way up Friday morning so we could get to the Expo Centre to pick up our Bib (with timing chip already attached) and bag of information before browsing the exhibitor’s stalls for a bargain or two. All checked in and raring to go, we had the rest of the day to enjoy the sunshine and find a place for dinner that would serve good pasta!
We did find a place that looked pretty good, close to the apartment and was pretty busy – having only been opened for a few days. I won’t go into the detail, but it was far from a fine dining experience. I guess we shouldn’t have expected much – from the time we arrived and they had given our booked table to someone else.
The next day was an early rise to see Diane off on the 5.7km run. We met the others under the Asics arch on an absolutely beautiful morning. Diane and Stuart headed off to the start and we headed off to find a coffee… along with a few hundred other caffeine deficient supporters.
Stuart finished in good form and at a decent pace! Diane came in under her target time and the rest of us runners all started to get a bit toey – how good is it watching people cross a finish line! All we wanted to do now was get on with our race.
The rest of the day was pretty relaxing, a fair bit of walking, a swim and then off to a fantastic little restaurant in Main Beach that served awesome pasta but had a great menu and service to match. The place for those interested in checking it out is Blu Grotto http://www.blugrottocafe.com.au – we’ll be back next year guys!
Btw, I had the Bugs Beurre‐Blanc Pappardelle – which was delicious! A couple of cold Peroni’s to wash it down (after all there’s carbohydrates in beer, isn’t there?) and we were back at the room for an early night.
Not a great night’s sleep, but I still woke feeling well rested. 5am to have some toast and jam (no dairy), a big glass of orange juice and black coffee. Showered, legs massaged with Goanna Heat and Voltaren then kitted up and ready to go.
It was a huge crowd for the Marathon with over 5,800 competitors. We all met up at the Asics arch and started the limbering, stretching and general warm up process in readiness for the race. With the start of the race looming we wished each other well then found a place in the time zones we were aiming for. When the gun goes, everyone runs his or her own race.
I started in good form and was traveling nicely in a really good rhythm and under little duress. In fact, I was going a little faster than I had planned and even though I tried to slow down, I found I was still a bit faster than I had planned. So I figured I’d just go with what felt good and see how it panned out.
A beautiful day the sun was out and although it was a little cool, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky – it was going to get hot.
The first 10km
The first 10km passed with no issues and I was running at over 11.5km per hour. Felt great! No calf pain, good rhythm having settled in beside a number of runners at the same pace as me. Managed to enjoy the scenery and the run.
15kms and beyond
By the time I hit the 15km mark I had worked out that this run could be my fastest half marathon time so that became a mini goal to achieve during the race. Would it cost me later?… time would tell. But I was feeling in such good shape I decided to risk it.
As I hit the turnaround point down around Burleigh Heads, I knew there was a strong chance I might see some of the other runners. I was pretty sure Sam and Rakesh were not far behind me and I lost Damien at the start. As I ran through the 17km point I saw Sam running towards me running strong and smiling. I didn’t see Damien or Rakesh but figured they were either in front of me, or still working through the crowd of runners.
Although I needed a bathroom break I decided it could wait until after the half way mark and curiously stopped at the same place as the year before, (btw 23-24kms) although this year feeling quite a bit better.
I hit the 20km mark in good shape and knew that I was on track to a sub 4-hour marathon if I could maintain the pace. I was running with the 3hour 45minute pace setter right up until my bathroom pit stop.
Half way there…..
1hour 48minutes or so was my half marathon time by Endomondo, which was a little better than my previous time, and I was still feeling in pretty good shape. However, it was much hotter than I had anticipated being in the low 20’s, whereas training has been at 4 -8 degrees in cold and wet Melbourne. I was constantly thirsty and the gels were difficult to swallow.
30+km mark… the not-so-fun zone
The GC Marathon has a cruel section in the track that you run. You head out from Southport right down to Burleigh Heads, then turnaround back through Southport up to Runaway Bay before turning around to finish at Southport.
The 30-31km mark is where the crowds are milling around for the finishers and as the half marathon competitors are enjoying their rest, as they are pretty much all finished by this time. You can see the finish line and you ‘re starting to get fatigued. You can smell the food being cooked at BBQ’s and the coffee huts working overtime and then you leave it all behind with about an hour running ahead… and you run past a McDonald’s! Needless to say I was getting a bit hungry.
I was starting to feel the heat and the gels were making me feel sick… so the run was starting to become harder and nowhere near as enjoyable as it had been for the first 2hours.
My pace started to slow and I trudged through the 30-35km mark still with a sub 4hour marathon within my reach. I had been struggling with hydration and seemed to be out of sync with the drink stops. Also, not wanting to impact my run with lots of toilet stops I had been somewhat miserly with my water intake.
At the 36km mark my frugal approach to water intake started to affect me, becoming a little light headed and unsteady on my feet. Simple solution was to take another gel and slow down until I got to the next drink station. From this point on I increased my water intake – one cup in the mouth and another over the top of my head to cool down.
It was the first time I had ever felt “woozy” from running and I figured it was just dehydration and I had only myself to blame. Slowing down, walking through the drink stops and getting some fluids into me did help.
I was still doing it tough and finding it a little hard to breathe, exacerbated by a small stitch. So I stripped off my running shirt so I could get the compression top off and ran the stitch out. Breathing was a little easier and I was much cooler so kicked on with the run.
40kms … almost there
With the finish line just over 2kms away and the crowd cheering all the competitors on, I was feeling much better. I was just behind the 4hour pacesetter and I figured if I could stay close – I might be able to run him down in the last stretch.
The old legs were hurting, particularly the hamstrings and quads but not so bad that I felt I had to stop. As I ran past 41.5kms (or thereabouts) cramp took the back of my thigh on my right leg and had me hopping out of the other runners way. I pulled over stretched and started to run – only to be whacked again by the cramp.
A couple more stretches and I took off again albeit with a somewhat stiff and stilted gait, but with less than 1km to go – I didn’t really give a stuff. A big thank-you to the crowd cheering support and encouragement as I was trying to get rid of the cramp and then erupting with cheers as I ran off like Jake the Peg.
As I rounded the 42km mark there was the rest of the crew cheering me on having finished their races. Even my oldest son Ben and his girlfriend Kat up on holidays made it down to cheer myself and the other runners. As it turned out I was the first in of the marathon runners from our group with Damien, Sam and Rakesh not far behind.
It’s amazing how much extra energy the support and cheers provides you when you are fatigued. I had some awesome support via Endomondo also from the guys at the Gold Coast as well as Shelly, Justin and Andy with Pep Talks and Comments. Getting those words of support through the earpiece as I was running helped heaps.
Heading down the blue carpet with the crowd cheering I could see that the clock had already passed 4hours so I decided to just jog my way into the finish line and enjoy the atmosphere. It wasn’t the time I wanted, but at the end of the day a marathon is a marathon.
Endomondo had me tracked at 4hours and 1minute. The timing chip time was 4hours 3minutes and 39seconds. My gun (official) time was 4hours 6minutes and 57seconds. Still some 40 minutes better than my time from the year before.
My splits were as follows via the official GC Marathon website:
|split point||split time||speed|
|Five Kilometre Splits|
|Half Way Splits|
Not great times – but all in all a reasonable result. The link to Endomondo is below:
And here are some shots of the finishers from the half marathon and marathon:
So the fundraising is over, and my second GC Marathon completed. An enormous thanks to everyone who has supported me through the entire campaign, made donations, provided encouragement and just generally backed me. It’s been over 20 weeks training, around 900kms ran, 60+ gym sessions completed, more icy cold dips in the pool than I want to count, two tubes of Goanna Heat used, 8+kgs lost and over $3,000 raised for Alzheimer’s Australia Vic and the Fight Dementia campaign.
Special thanks to Rakesh who signed up to help with the fundraising and run his first marathon. Also, a big thanks to Diane, Ben & Matt for putting up with the training regime that can sometimes be most inconvenient and disruptive at home. A special mention to Missy (the Golden Retriever with OCD) for training support (and Rufus for his moral support).
And now, my all time favourite number one running song from my playlist…
Fall Back Down – by Rancid. get it – play it!
From this point forward my blog will still be about running, but also coffee, food, music, travel and generally anything else that I’m interested in. My next run is the Run Melbourne Half Marathon in less than 2 weeks. The legs should be good by then 😉
Right now we are enjoying more Gold Coast sunshine (see the pic below) at Sanctuary Cove. Just so happens Cuba Gooding Jr is filming a new movie called Deception at the same place we are staying!
Diane and I are planning a trip next year to China and I’m thinking the Great Wall Marathon might be on the agenda!! And as for the Gold Coast Marathon… maybe next year I’ll break 4 hours 😉