Melbourne Marathon 2018

My first marathon (Aug 2017) and my 50 km run (June 2018) both went without a hitch. Melbourne Marathon Sunday 14 October 2018 was a bit more humbling.

The bad:

  1. At 25 km, it was hot and my throat felt like it was closing, and I had trouble getting enough oxygen. I had chest pains for a minute, with a heartrate spike of 195. I had to do walk/run/walk/run to finish the marathon, and couldn’t talk without the throat constriction happening.
  2. I had to walk in an event and I’ve always prided myself on never needing to walk.
  3. I wanted to prove in an official, big marathon, I was better than average, but I finished 1552 of 1826 women. 114 of 145 in my Age Group.

 

The good:

  1. Digestion was fine beforehand, and then only needed the loo at 20 km.
  2. Fuelling and hydration were great. Also tipped water on my head every 3 km drinks station.
  3. I knew when to walk when necessary.
  4. I took a nice photo of my club friends, Caroline and Carolyn.IMG_8084
  5. I got to run the F1 Albert Park circuit and take a selfie in pit straight.
  6. A man with a below-knee prosthesis passed me after that and I thought it was so cool l quickly took a picture.IMG_8068
  7. I had an awesome weekend away in the city on my own with only a couple of anxiety pains, when a few years ago I’d never dreamed I’d do anything like this.
  8. I was a 29-year smoker and 35 kg overweight 4.5 years ago, and have come a long way.
  9. Met up with lots of running friends I’ve made since starting running & parkrun 3 years ago.
  10. Ambrosia-like handful of jelly beans from a spectator at 26 km that kept me amused for 4 km.
  11. There were all ages, genders, and sizes around me near the back of the pack.
  12. 13% didn’t finish at all! I feel sorry for them, but that makes me feel luckier.
  13. Talked with a Spartan at 36 km (he’d run MelbMara 10 times) and he was saying we were doing well in the heat.
  14. At 32 km, a spectator offered me Minties. The motto is “At moments like these, you need Minties”. Of course I said yes. And I enjoyed that Mintie till I finished it just before the end.
  15. I didn’t need First Aid!
  16. I f*&%ing finished my third marathon!

 

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The doctor I saw about my marathon “episode” said she didn’t think it was exercise-induced asthma / bronchioconstriction. Probably just one of those things in marathons when you push your body to its limits. Long run, high heart rate spike, needing lots of oxygen, hot conditions, no shade. She said to just see if it happens again on a 30ish km run in the cool, and if so, she’d refer me to a sports clinic.

But a once-off like this sounded like my body’s fairly normal reaction to tough conditions at the time. If it was asthma, I wouldn’t have breathed easier after walking a minute or two.

 

I learned a lot this time. Looking forward to doing a Winter marathon next time!

 

The final words go to mention that through all of this, I knew I was kicking off a 24 hour relay “Run For Dennis (aka KeepRunningFatboy)” with My Fitness Pal friends and needed to run for about 5 hours to fill my slot. Dennis Ley ran over 25 marathons in his inspiring life that was cut short in August.

 

I had to keep running.

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Reasons to run

If you make comparisons, you might feel inadequate for being slower than another runner or you feel empty with no goals if you’re ahead.

If you find and know your own internal reasons why you run, others can’t stop you from enjoying running.

My reasons may or may not intersect with yours.

  • It all started with going faster than a walk.
  • To find beauty in nature.
  • To find beauty in strength.
  • Art. Taking photos, writing and talking about insights from running.
  • parkrun. Where do I begin?
  • Big-ass goals. Striving for achievements, and mini-goals and daily achievements along the way.
  • Curiosity, learning, data, statistics, science.
  • Friends. I’ve made more real friends in 3 years of running than I have in a lifetime.
  • Endorphins, and the runner’s high.
  • Weight management and earning more calories for yummy food.
  • Health. Blah, blah, blah, yes, it’s almost a cliché that running’s so good for you, but deep down I ecstatically love those annual “clear health” check-ups that ease many fears.
  • Aspirations towards Sisu. In Finland, Sisu is a unique trait that means consistency and resolute determination. It’s an epic quality of stamina and perseverance, of courage in the face of extreme hardship.
  • Zenmode.

Know your reasons and know they’re yours and you can run happy.

The psychology of running

They say, “Dig deep” on a tough run, but how do we do that? Here are strategies for dealing with critical situations.

You can use these for yourself or alter them to suit your method.

  • If I get too breathless, I will run at a pace that feels like I can run forever.
  • If I’m staring at the ground and feeling weighed down, then I will look up to try and find a nice photo subject.
  • If I want to quit early, then I will focus on completing a mini-goal or route section so I feel hopeful.
  • If I worry about my time or pace, I will remember my fundamental goal is to stay healthy so I can keep running.
  • If my shoulders get tense, I will rotate my arms to ease the ache.
  • If my legs/hips/calves hurt, I will count to ten and practice good form.
  • If I am really struggling, I will “Embrace the suck”.

We can face That Dark Place on a tough run, as I’ve seen someone call it. We shouldn’t be going there every run. It’s probably best to only do it every couple of weeks to avoid burnout. Most training runs should be run easy.

But when you expect a run to be tough and you have contingency plans and strategies for critical situations, you create psychological endurance.

You will probably think negative or defeatist thoughts. Here are ways of digging deep when that happens.

  • Wear a symbolic item that reminds you of your strength and/or why you run.
  • Visualise completing your goal.
  • Remember friends’ compliments about your determination/commitment.
  • Use your senses: Hear the crowd’s encouragement or nature; see the interesting route; taste/drink some water/fuel; feel your skin to make sure you’re sweating and not dehydrated, feel the breeze.
  • Remember overcoming a great obstacle in your life. Think outside the run – remind yourself you can do this, you’ve done other hard things.
  • Swear, and let your monkey feelings out.
  • In a training session, remember the purpose of the workout and remember that performance is improved by trying hard.
  • In a race, remember your training, and how you’ve built up to this. Let it all fall into place.

Being prepared to face That Dark Place can help. Visualise a certain point in the route (e.g. 32 km) and rehearse seeing yourself overcome negativity at that point by remembering these strategies.

You don’t need to leave it all up to luck on the day.