After weeks of preparation and anticipation, the day has come to wake up at 4 am with a big grin on my face. Not every day one can ran on the Harbour Bridge. Another race, another morning of pain and happiness. I ran the Auckland Marathon and it took 3 hours and 50 minutes.
This time around I was not as consistent with weekly distances as before the North Shore Marathon. Partially because I wanted to focus more on cycling (Ironman is coming!), but also - I’ve been away 3 consecutive weekends. My longest run was a Waitakare half marathon race, which I joined with no taper nor rest before, but with only one goal - negative splits. The run itself was a 2 lap course. I did the second lap 3 minutes faster than the first one, so - mission accomplished. My overall time was not that bad either - 1h 48 minutes. I’m quite sure that I should be able to run sub 1:40 half now with no major problems.A few weeks earlier I did a relay marathon race, 9km and 6km legs with 4:30 min/km pace. For the first time I also ran lots of hill repeats (between 6 to 8% gradient on treadmill) as well as sprint intervals, to gain some speed and strength in my legs. On top of that - yoga at least once per week, more swimming and cycling. I felt ready!
After poor performance at the North Shore Marathon I knew that I would have to start slower that I’d want. And so my pace for the first 20 km averaged at 5:15min/km, which turned out to be faster than North Shore (5:21), but with lower heart rate (156 vs 164 BPM).The second half averaged at 5:31min/km (including 3 minute long toilet break) with 165 average BPM. Once again compared to North Shore - 6:08min/km at 166 BPM average. That’s over 30 seconds per km faster for the second half. I like it a lot!Last 5 km averaged at 5:20min/km and 171 BPM. Not perfectly negative splits, but way better this time around.I think that my quads hurt much more this time, but somehow I had the power to push through that pain and only walk at aid stations. I was really close to stopping and the only thing that was keeping me moving was the most cheesy mantra in my head. (inhale) There is no (exhale) pain. (inhale) There is no (exhale) pain. (inhale) There is no (exhale) pain.
Oh, there was pain! I slowed down about two meters before the finish line, when I noticed that the time was over 3 hours and 50 minutes, and it was 5 minutes slower that I wanted it to be. Yet, I did the best I could on that day. I had absolutely no energy left and it took me a while to take off the timing chip and move from the finish line to the recovery zone. Also - my Garmin showed 42.8km distance. This, together with 3 minutes lost in the toilet reassured me that the next marathon I run will be sub 3:45! For now - I shaved 23 seconds per km compared to the North Shore and it will keep me happy for a long time. Here are data pages from both North Shore and Auckland marathons.
My training was good. Not perfect, but good. Running a half marathon on tired legs was a great idea. Running hills and hard intervals was a good idea. Running less and cycling more probably saved my legs a lot, so I could run without any injury or heavy pain.Consistency really is key. I can truly say that I love marathon distance now. And I’m not over with it yet!
Recovery and next goals
I will take this week really easy and next week “kinda” easy. My quads are destroyed, but less than last time, as I can actually walk down the stairs. At the end of November I’m going for a week long self-organised training camp, finishing with 160km race around Lake Taupo, to kickstart 16 week training period before Ironman New Zealand.
I really tried to smile. Well, shit :)!