Rotorua Marathon 3:17

Well Rotorua Marathon went almost perfectly.

We arrived nice and early, so that Ange, Kath and Steve could enter the half. I was bag boy. After waving bye at their 8:00am start, I went and check their jumpers and bags into the bag check. On the way out I had a brief chat to Geoff Rodley who is a serial Rotorua man. After that there was that fleeting thought, I wonder what my heart rate is? Only to discover I’d forgot my heart rate monitor, so with 20 minutes to go, it was back to bag check, get the keys, run to the car (keeping it slow). HRM found, strapped to chest and back to bag check, and the final nervous comfort stop. Out to the start, climb the fence, sit on the ground, they’re giving a 2 minute countdown, tie the shoes. Obsess for 10 seconds if they’re right, but there is only 60 seconds to go, everyone is moving forward, so I stand and move with the crowd. I briefly think about the episode in West Wing where the presidents wife cuts his tie before he heads out, and wonder if this muck up will help. Certainly there is no time to obsess. The gun goes and we’re moving forward in very slow Rotorua style. Their start is just too narrow. So I start off slowly, it feels about 5:00min/km. I slowly weave through people. Having pushed it in previous years, I decide to bide my time. We cruize down to the first turn around, I take the inside line and pass a few more. Then I run wide at the next and pass a few more. I look down at my watch 4:30/km, a bit fast but OK, it’ll slow going up the next rise. Heart rate is nice and low. I’ve decided that 155bpm is my max, and I’ll try and keep it lower.

Those opening 5km go by quickly. I start to check in, and keep track of my stride, HR and pace. All seems OK. There are a few little rises, and I slow down (a bit) going up them to keep the HR low, where around 135 – 145. Then I realise this is crazy, it’s a race. I’ll let it drop on the downs and flats. So at the next rise I push it to 153, it rises to 156 by the top. Oh well, it’ll come back on the flat. At this time my flat pace is around 4:20 – 4:30 depending on whether I’m behind someone or overtaking. Most people have fairly plain shirts on, but I’ve got my Oxfam shirt on. I realise, that everyone I’m overtaking will notice this shirt, and I can imagine the comments if they then re-overtake me; the pressure builds in my head and I quite it down. I concentrate on where I run in the road and my stride to be nice and smooth. Some people have very strange gaits.

I keep pushing it, making sure the pace is up; HR no more than 155, 162 up the bigger hills and 135-145 going down. I concentrate a lot on breathing going down and find I can do about 4:00/km at 135bpm on the steeper bits. I think light smooth thoughts. Finally we get to the nice bits, where we can see the lake. My sunglasses are working well, I can see the swarms of sandflys and zig-zag around them rather than have an unintentional protein snack.

The gels are going OK. The plan is to take them at 12, 19, 27, 34km. My Asics shorts are a little hard to unzip to get the gel out, but it works, just at 12km. I guzzle a Leppin about 200m out from the water stop and down a water. I pause at the 19kn one to down two waters, it’s the hills ahead and think that’s prudent after taking my second gel. I’m taking poweraide at the other stops, and as the race goes on a water too.

I cruize up the first hill at 21k and blast down it. Then another up, and a blast down. I think light thoughts, and keep my breathing down. Coming down I’m doing about 4:00min/km. With the pace slow at 4:00/m rather than faster, the HR really drops after the climbs.

I’ve decided that after the 3rd and final hill at 27km I’m going to push it, HR up to 162bpm and see how I go bringing it home.

The 28km station surprises me on a blind corner, and I struggle to get my gel out, the pocket zip is stuck. I have to stop. Crap. After spilling half my gel on one aide attendant, I down two waters, apologise and I’m off.

After this we hit a huge head wind. Oh crap, it’s hard. I wish I hadn’t pushed it so much at 27km. I briefly think about keeping the pace up, but decide to back off just a little, next thing you know I’m doing 4:55/k rather than 4:25/k. The mind can’t cope with it being so much lower, so I push. At this stage I realise my hope for a negative split is gone. I obsess about what I’ll say to the coach, my only goal was for a negative split. At this rate, it’s likely to be a 2 minute positive. Crap. I push. I know I’m strong and I can do it, but I’m not going fast enough now. To keep going at 4:35/k into this wind will just mean that I crumble, by HR has rocketed to 165 at just 4:40/k rather than 4:35/k. I know that if I keep this up, in another 10 minutes I’ll be at 173bpm and it’ll be all over, so I back off to 4:50, let it drop and ramp up again. The 4:50 – 4:40 yoyo of pace continues into the wind. I have to swing my arms really hard to keep going. The pace drops, I start swinging my arms again. Fortunately I still manage to overtake people.

It has been a huge blast so far; I’ve over taken so many people and been overtaken by none.

There is a YMCA shirt on the horizon, and I concentrate on catching him. At this stage, with 10k to go it’s getting really hard. But I catch him. It’s just a matter of holding on. I make it too the finish okay. But the last 4K are hard.


another good run.