Two years after taking the plunge and entering my first marathon, come Sunday morning, I’ll be lining up for Melbourne Marathon # 3.
I can happily confirm this will be the first occasion where I’m confident not only of greeting the finish line, but that significant progress will be made on previous efforts.
A couple of sub-ninety minute half-marathon outcomes in recent months served as pleasing affirmations that being able to run with a goal beyond completing the course – a monumental accomplishment in itself, is now possible.
The body feels as sound in the immediate countdown – the dreaded “taper” phase, as it ever has. Even though I’ve been there and done that on several previous occasions, it takes resorting to the perusal of various runners’ forums to assure myself that heavy calves and aching feet and ankles are a good sign that I’ve given myself sufficient rest. This manifests into paranoia about a non-existent scratching sensation in my throat, angst when another soul sniffles, much less coughs and sneezes are also part and parcel.
That nagging desire to pop the shoes on for a quick ten kilometre session has also been a constant presence in recent days. “Have I done enough?” has been a recurring sentiment, which I’m certain is a view shared by the more than seven thousand competitors set to take part on the day, when the answer is that nothing can be done in the final hundred hours or so to alter the path which has been set.
Even as I compose this piece, on a Friday afternoon, it serves a purpose shamelessly greater than informing you of this wonderful event which unites so many people from all corners of not only this country, but the entire globe. It is distracting, and protecting my mind from those incessant, irrational thoughts, that more can be done.
The other half is the race day factor. That’s just how it is with a marathon – you never know what could happen on the day, there are infinite variables which can make the largest differences. It’s no good dwelling on them, everything than can be done was weeks and months in the past.
What can be done? Enjoying sufficient sleep, consuming enough water and electrolytes, devouring enough carbohydrates, but most importantly – staying off your feet, is paramount in the final 48 to 72 hour window to allow the body to be as primed as it can be for the torture which is to be imminently endured. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve taken part, there is always going to be a toll.
So to Sunday on a personal level. With returns of 4 hours 13 minutes on debut in 2012 and 3 hours 40 minutes last year, complemented by 3 hours 22 minutes at the Great Ocean Road Marathon in May – admittedly far more trying than anticipated, the ambition is to cross the line in under three hours. Failing that, the old adage becomes applicable – there’s always next time!
That’s the ambition. What the outcome is? That’s the unknown.
Good luck to all participants, officials and attendees, it’s going to be a great morning – if not once it’s over for the former group!