Image courtesy of Rob Vile
Many of you will know that I am a keen runner and after getting fit for a trip to Nepal in 2005 I’ve continued to enjoy running regularly for the past 14 years. Over the last 10 years, I’ve usually managed to run the Melbourne Marathon in October on Bathurst weekend. It’s the full length 42.2 km version that I’m talking about here not any “short” runs like a 10km or Half Marathon! Last year was very warm and windy and I had a bit of a disappointing run on the day after a patchy and interrupted preparation finishing in 3 hrs 34 minutes, nearly 10 minutes outside my PB. This year I decided that something had to change so I increased my mileage a lot more and got serious and more professional in my training. After a good run and a new PB of 3 hrs 13 minutes in the Traralgon Marathon in June I knew I was heading in the right direction and continued to train and build the mileage heading towards my 8th Melbourne Marathon on October 13th. I was aiming for another PB and hopefully to get under 3 hrs 10 minutes for the first time.
The day dawned nice and clear with hardly any wind so I knew I was in with a chance of a good time. I made my way down to the start line near the Tennis Centre from my Southbank hotel with my wife and two of my daughters (they do support me in some of my endeavours!) at about 6.45 am feeling nervous but determined to have a crack. With approximately 7000 other people the start can be a bit messy and crowded for the first few km's until you can find some clear space and get into a rhythm. The course runs past Fed Square down St Kilda Rd to Fitzroy St and then a reverse lap of the Albert Park GP circuit emerging onto Beach Rd and then up to Station Pier which brings you up to approximately 17km. I was feeling pretty good and relaxed at this stage and my Garmin GPS watch had me ticking just under my goal pace of 4 mins 30 secs per km by a few seconds. After the U-turn at Station Pier, it’s a long haul of about 9km down Beach Rd to another U-turn near Elsternwick Park in Elwood at about 26km. Often the wind can be a problem here as you turn around and run back to St Kilda into a stiff headwind but on this day it was thankfully not an issue. Still feeling pretty comfortable I started to pick up the pace slightly as I came back towards St Kilda. As I was running past Luna Park I heard someone yell out my name from the sidelines and looked over to see Rob Vile’s beaming face on the footpath. I managed a quick high five and he yelled out some more encouraging words which put some pep in my step. He’d got on his mountain bike and come out from his home to see me which was fantastic. I turned up into Fitzroy St and saw my family who gave me a drink and spurred me on even more. By this time I had joined up with a few runners who were on the same pace as me and we encouraged and urged each other on as we headed back up St Kilda Rd weaving in and out of thousands of Half Marathon runners who started later but share some of the course back to the CBD. We were pretty aggressive making sure these slower runners kept left and we got back to the Arts Centre without losing any time. The worst thing about the Melbourne Marathon course is the hill you have to climb up past The Shrine at about 36km. It’s roughly 1 km of incline and has often been the end of many a good runner with nothing left in the tank. Amongst the little group I was running with we were pumping each other up and urging each other on and we made it to the top at Domain Rd without giving back any time or blowing up. It’s literally all downhill from there and as I started to head for home I heard Rob again from the sidelines. He kept me company for a few minutes as I ran back down to St Kilda Rd and up to Fed Square pumping me up and yelling encouragement from the footpath. I told him I needed a photo for the Vee newsletter so he raced ahead and took some from the side of the road! I turned at Fed Square and headed up Flinders St turning right into Brunton Ave where I saw my family again and gave them a big fist pump as I was still going strong and under goal pace. As I approached the MCG I ran under a pedestrian footbridge that comes from the Tennis Centre and sure enough, I hear Rob Vile’s voice again, booming out from above as I pass underneath! Another fist pump, wave and a grimaced smile and I turned left off the road, under the Southern Stand and onto the grass of the MCG with only a few hundred metres left to run. I had a quick look at my watch and saw it was 3:07 and about 30 seconds. I thought 3:07 sounded a lot better than 3:08 so I ran as hard as I could to the line, finishing in 3:07:55. A five minute PB, 490th out of 7031 finishers, 21st out of 460 men aged 50-54. A perfect day out for me that went better than planned.
What’s next? After my run at Traralgon, I qualified for the Boston Marathon (only runners under specified times can enter) so I went through the entry process in September and managed to get a confirmed entry. The Boston Marathon is in April so it looks like I’ll be travelling to the USA for a month or so next year.
How often do I train? I usually run 7 days a week. On Wednesday’s I do a harder workout eg 8x1km hard effort with 2 mins jog in between or 12km hard, both with a warm up and cool down jog. Sunday is long run day so I get out for 30 to 40km on a rail trail and often incorporate some blocks of 5km or more at marathon pace in the run. The other 5 days I normally run easy for an hour (12km) from home around the hills and dirt roads of Korumburra. My weekly mileage for most of this year has been around 100km per week ramping up to about 115km per week in the months before Melbourne.
How fast is a marathon run in 3:07:55? If you have a treadmill set it to about 13.6 km/hour and hang on for three hours or so. If you have access to an athletics track do a 400m lap in 1min 45 secs and keep going for another 104 laps. If you’ve done your local 5km Parkrun try doing it in just over 22 minutes and then running it another 7.5 times. Let me know how you get on!
Davin Field #27