It’s been about 3 weeks since the trauma of the Melbourne Marathon and I’m just honestly processing the day and the weeks that have followed.
There was a few days of feeling sorry for myself, a few days of being angry at myself and pretty much an entire week of swearing to anyone that would listen that I am never, ever, like ever, doing that again.
I know I know, I have said this before.
In fact, I said this exact thing, only with less curse words and Taylor Swift references, in 2016, the week following the very same race.
“That was horrible”, “why do I do this to myself?”, “I’m never doing that again, like ever”.
Ok so maybe not that different.
I have no excuses. I couldn’t resist the FOMO and justified running a race I wasn’t really passionate about by saying that I had hit two half marathon PR’s on the road this year and I should use this success to see if I could finally break the 4 hours in the marathon.
My history at the Melbourne Marathon would suggest I didn’t have a hope in hell, with my best time on the course sitting at 4:27. But hey, I’d paid and posted it on the socials so I was gunna have a crack.
I decided to stay in the city which I’d never done before because some brain child had decided the day of the Melbourne Marathon was a good day to close the freeway from Melbourne’s western suburbs. That and the start/finish location made driving and parking untenable.
I arrived at the MCG with plenty of time to drop my bag and get ready for the run.
Then I made my first mistake of the day, I jumped in with the 3:50 pace group. Yes, I was feeling a little too confident and yes, watching the 1:59 project the day before probably didn’t help with that, but I made the decision that this “sub 4” thing was all in my head and that I could do it if I set my mind to it.
I started off down Batman Avenue with the 10/10/10 rule in my head. First 10 mile (16k) with your head, “run smart”, next 10 mile with your legs, “trust your training” and the last 10k with your heart.
Turns out going with the 3:50 pace group was not a smart head decision!
I kept great pace with them through the first 18k through the city and Albert Park leg and into the St Kilda leg of the marathon. I was happy with my pacing, it felt comfortable but not too comfortable and I was keeping with the pace balloons.
As we crossed onto the St Kilda foreshore section, I started to watch the pacing balloons gain some space and then some more. I went through the half way point in 1:54, which prior to this year would have been a half marathon PB but the wheels were already starting to fall off.
By 25k, I was waking on the side of the road, texting my husband telling him not to bother coming into the city, I wasn’t going to finish.
I’ve never not finished anything before and I was devastated.
I went out to hard, cooked myself and had nothing left to give. “Rookie error”, I cursed myself.
I felt like I had fuelled well, I wasn’t sunburnt or chafed, I’d drank enough water. I just thought I was better than I was and it wasn’t my day.
As I walked and watched the 4:00 hr balloons pass me, I saw my sub 4 dream fade into the distance.
And then it hit me, the roads were closed, the trams aren’t running, I just cancelled my husband who was coming down to support and the only way back to my car is on foot.
I started to shuffle and was grateful everyone was too busy with their own shit to notice little old me riding the struggle bus.
Coming back up St Kilda road into the Melbourne CBD, the marathon hit the back of the half marathon. Suddenly I was passing people, welcome back mojo, you’ve been missed. ￼
As I passed the Arts Centre, ultrarunner Lucy Bartholomew was there cheering on the sidelines. “Don’t let my dad pass you”, she yelled. Her smile and enthusiasm was infectious. I ran a 5:30ish kilometre, my first one in about 10k. (I had no idea her dad was the 4:10 pacer).
I was heading into the Tan section when I looked at my watch, like actually looked at the time and distance, not just the kilometre split. “Hold on, I haven’t stuffed this quite yet”, I thought, trying to do maths with a marathon brain. “if I manage 6 min km’s for the last few k’s I can get my PB.”
I put my foot down and went. I pushed and I wanted to give up but I legit thought I might actually make sub 4:06.
The dream shattered into a million pieces as I left Flinders street and made the final turn towards the MCG. My watch hit 42.2km and I wasn’t in the G yet. I wanted to cry. I was under 4:06, I had run 42.2km but I wasn’t finished. What the actual fuck?
On the MCG track I wanted to quit. I was so pissed off and deflated. I crossed the line in 4:09, not a PB but a course PB by a good 13 minutes.
I got my medal and shuffled out of there. I was so sore and no one was moving quickly. I just wanted to get out of there and pretend the whole thing never happened.
It all sounds so overly dramatic and I’ve been moping around unmotivated and shitty ever since. I printed off my training plan but couldn’t bring myself to give a shit. One day I walked into the gym, sat on the lat pull down, did about 8 reps and walked back out. I skipped cycle class after driving all the way there.
But I’ve come to take away a few lessons.
1. Give yourself some grace, you are not curing cancer here! You are not perfect and this is not life or death. Be disappointed for sure but then its time to move on.
2. Don’t try and do marathon maths. It will end in disaster!
3. The 10/10/10 method has merit
4. I have to run because I enjoy it. It’s time to finally admit that even though my ego would love to say I ran a 3:30 marathon, my heart just doesn’t enjoy it anymore and that’s ok.
5. Don’t give up, it’s so cheesy, but those few kilometres of feeling sorry for myself are what cost me my PB