Wellington Marathon

Oh lordy! I finally did it.  11 years after my only other (non-Ironman) marathon finishes (a 1:20 first half; 1:50 second half capitulation at Rotorua and a 3:03 at Wellington) in 2006, I finally managed to run with my head and not some other part of my body and achieved a sub-3hr, negative split marathon.  Stoked, chuffed, made-up, all understatements.  I was beginning to think the marathon distance was my achillies heel; the thing I’ll never nail.

This year’s Wellington Marathon was a bit of an after thought.  I entered 3 weeks before the event, albeit with a bit of a plan in place beforehand and a decent level of endurance after the build up for Tarawera Ultra and Rarotonga Triathlon in the Summer and Autumn.  Kerry at Squadrun had given me an awesome 9 week marathon plan and I incorporated some of those sessions into my Rarotonga Triathlon build-up and then chucked in some specific work in the last 4 weeks to get myself marathon ready.

Race morning was a stunner.  Clear, light (for Wellington) winds and perfect temperatures.  I had a 3-stage plan – pace for 2:52, be happy with 2:55, but by god just get under that 3 hours!  With that I mind, I set off clocking a perfect 4:05/km pace.  I hit halfway bang on the money at 1:26.  For the first 25km I ran with two others, our pace was pretty much aligned.  I was waiting for the hurt to come.  But it was me that started to pull away from them.  At 28km my Garmin lost signal so I started my stopwatch at 30k and clicked the lap marker at every km marker.  I was getting faster!  A couple of 3:55s, some low 4s, and I was passing people with less than 5km to go.  What mythical feeling is this?!?  The negative split!  The hurt finally came with about 3km to go, but by then I was in a really happy place.  I gritted my teeth, dug it in and finished hard.  2:51:11!  Oh boy did that feel good.

In all honesty, I’ve never felt so comfortable in a long-distance run.  I ran within myself and stayed focused and strong for the duration.  At 37 years old, I think this was my coming of age performance for marathoning.  I’ve run a 1:15:20 half before, and a 3:03 marathon PB was not something I was particularly proud of.  Although the online calculators suggest, based on a 1:15 half, I should be capable of a 2:35-40ish marathon, for now I’m taking this 2:51 and I’m cherishing it.

National Marathon Champs bronze medal!

As a bonus, this was the NZ Marathon Champs and I scored a bronze medal in the 35-39 age group!  Very cool.

Once again, massive thanks to Kerry at Squadrun for the awesome training programme, pep-talks when I’m ready to quit and general all-round amazing support.  This guy not only knows his stuff, he knows how to dose it out in a way that gets maximum effect.

As always, final (and biggest) thanks to Natasha and the kids for their endless encouragement and support and for keeping me grounded when I get home (“cool medal Dad, can you make me some toast?“).

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