With the 12hr done, my last long race of the year is the Auckland Marathon. A very different event. Brutal, but fun.
Two weeks out I had a terrible 10k run, was struggling from the second kilometer. I felt tanked coming up a hilly section and had to button off to walking pace. I ground to a stop at 8 k and had to rest before heading back to the car.
I thought I had no stamia for 10k, let alone 42, until I realised that I hadn’t had lunch that day and was running on a series of 5 hours sleep nights.
Pre race week was supposed to be simple MAF/Zone 4 5k runs to Saturday, but… Wednesday felt really great running with the lads for an estuary lap so did 8k at around 4:43 pace.
Shape Shifter, In Colour is playing at full volume and I check my watch is ready and see my heart rate clicking up each second. The starter hooter sounds and we’re off.
About 1300 people behind us and 300 ahead.
Out and up the hills feels fine. Left calf is painful, much like it was at the start of the 12 hr. Put it down to nerves. I miss the first aid station as its a mess of grabbing and pro offered cups.
At Takapuna I think of Greg’s Gel protocol and get my first one in the mouth and stupidly swirl with it. It’s everywhere and my mouth is dry as. I try to crack a joke about our Kipchoge slipstream V pacers being missing and everyone’s too focused.
We chop through the new extra bit – pre Smales Farm and I figure I need water so jostle to the inside. Get a cup of water, get two good sips in but doesn’t feel like enough.
I figure I need a good drink before the bridge, so from Smales to Akoranga I kick slight ahead of the pacer to give myself a clear solid grab on a right side water.
I stay just ahead of him until the bridge, cutting the tangents through the corners to minimise distance.
Pacer says we have time on the bridge and we go over at 5:13 pace and I Croft a few on the way to Shelly Beach road, and push ahead to be clear for the next aid station and have my gel.
I swallow mouthfulls and it works loads better but a little dude who’s fallen of his pace ahead of me heads left, then right, then left, then right for the water table in front of me.
I have to grab both his shoulders to save leapfrogging him or getting buried under the pack bearing down on us. I get clear and grab a Powerade.
We’re good from here out and round the shorter section – missing the tank farm this year and we peel left to some thunderous cheers from volunteers and crowds near Victoria Park.
Onto Quay street and the mental “ticked off the half” hits quite a few. I pick up 40 spots before the 25K. Some were almost hyperventilating and I could feel myself starting to pick up my breath in sympathy.
I start to compose, and have another Gel before the aid station pre Okahu Bay. Felling pretty good. Pace is good. I start to decide what I can shout at Mark and Steffan who I figured I’d see any second coming through with the 3 hour pacers . We get out past Kelly Tarlton’s aquarium and I manage a “Go Ninja” for both and go mate for three others I spot before the turnaround.
I clear the turnaround and there’s no dread yet. I feel it coming into Mission bay and looking at my watch (like a rookie) I think I can let the pacer go a little as I gotta nail this aid station. I get a good grip, clamp, sip, get going and keep rolling.
A few shouts to the 3:45, 4:00 and 4:15 pacers – Super supportive, wonderful people, but why do they have to be people I know and need to respond to. I wasn’t up to talking at that point. I fade slightly and it is this segment that costs me 20 seconds.
I get a second wind here as we approach Hobson Bay and the lights. I chat for 5 minutes up and over the little rise with a South African who talks about the Comrades pacers needing to be a few min ahead so the back of the pacer pack makes it on time. I get a boost as he sounds real fresh and I think we can go for 5 together.
I’m about to ask him and he spurts out “I’m done my legs are dead”. He bails and a whole bunch are tanked in the headwinds and start walking.
I add another 20 to the tally from here to the last aid station where my watch hits 41.6 and I think I’ve got 12 mins to do less than a kilometer on my watch (it can’t be more than 2 course KM surely?). I walk through the last aid station and get a two handed grip on a water then choke on a Powerade.
My heart rate zooms as I try to pick the pace back up and stop coughing blue stuff.
I loose two spots here to guys through the aid station and do what I feels like a sprint from the Council (Vodafone) building to the finish, happy that there’s a good partition between the 21k walkers and those running to finish the marathon this time.
3:31:40 on the clock. 3:31:20 net and 43k on my watch. With a PB to the half I knew I’d struggle to negative split so super happy with this and the fact that my Split rank for my last 4 splits was about 40 – 60 spots ahead of my race rank.
Waiting to sign up for next year. 😁
Next steps are:
- Work on aid station speed and cup skills
- Time gel intakes better
- Practice cornering in packs
- More speed work to increase pace
- More long runs in practice (106k is long but I didn’t get enough 21+ k runs in before the event)
- Set next race and targets.
PS. If you’re considering the Auckland Marathon half or full next year. Mark Patterson (Stellar bloke and runner) has a fantastic break down of the first 21.1 Kilometers here: