Westlink M7 Marathon - 2nd place (2:33:12)

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Being a little star-stuck seeing a Kenyan marathoner at the notoriously 'boring' M7 Marathon, I wanted a photo. It took 42.2k of chasing before he stopped.

I initially wanted to run this but chose Gold Coast (3 weeks ago) instead. Changed my mind on Friday and signed up 20 hours before the gun. Still feeling the quad hangover of GC so expectations were low.

Told myself before - 'its a semi-hard' training run. No issues if I bonk and walk. Thus no warm-up.

What a boring course - basically an undulating bike track. Start at the athletics track, 10k south then return, 10k north then return. Great views of sheep and cars.

Start-line has a Kenyan (Tom) and ultra runner Brendan Davies. These two fire off at sub 3:30 pace. I'm all alone at 3:50s and conceding defeat all before 10km.

Little to report but my strategy on the hills. Surge the ascent, extend the strides and ease the heart on the descent. 13km turnaround comes fast and with Tom and Davies so far ahead, I'm looking at the bronze. Plan is to run by feel and don't check the watch. The rhythm starts to build slowly.

Davies starts visually growing at 15km. I figure he's a strong finisher so too early to get excited.

Half-way comes in 77:25. Gap is 40m and he looks back. I see fear, surge to close the gap and rejoice is this small victory. 20km to go.

Once again, very bored. I start to dodge the 10km runners and later, the half marathoners. David Byrne is storming home in the half. Later I see Brendan Wong looking way too happy wearing a balloon as the 1.45 pacer (opposite direction) ....

So I'm at the 'back' of the half marathon ducking and weaving. Slow grind heading North to the 33km turnaround. #1 is long-forgotten but then I see he's 50s in front!

Surprising to note my legs feel OK. BUT I'm not here to suffer more than is needed. There's a few 'he's just up ahead' comments but it's only with 2km to go do I note a shrinking gap. I storm into the stadium and lo and behold! Bike plus #1 is 40m ahead and Brendan Wong is pointing and screaming.

With a shrug, I lift the pace in jest. #1 turns around, kicks and puts an end to blind hope. I learn after he's got a 2:21 PB. Clearly 'coasting' today....

Nonetheless, I cross the line feeling quite spent but way better than I expect.

2:33:10 at 3:37 min/km is the announced time. Very happy with 2nd place! Next best time after GC.

Fair to say I ran today well within myself. The first few splits were my slowest (3:45 to 3:50). These felt the hardest. Ran this off a pre-race banana, but the stomach was playing up the whole race. Lucky there was no pit stop. My patience in the first half paid dividends..

 Hats off to Brendan on pacing duties and dragging me out Rooty Hill. 

 Finally I get my deserved photo with the winner ....

Of course, I drove straight to Shenkin Kitchen at Enmore for brunch. The Israeli Big Breakfast was a just reward!

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