At the end of a marathon, I always find it helpful to take a moment to reflect on the run, to think about the lessons or insights that I gained from the exercise, and share them so that a) I personally remember them for next time, b) maybe help someone else who might benefit from running a path previously trodden.
So here they are, and in no special order:
1. St George is a fantastic marathon. You should run it.
To date this was the most beautiful course I’ve run – truly amazing, awe-inspiring scenery – a real treat to be out there running. The course is challenging in a different way to others I’ve run, insofar as the downhill components (of which there are many) require a different running technique and a little strategy in terms of saving energy for the second half.
Organizationally this was a great race – everything was well catered for, and well thought through, with a phenomenal reception through the last couple of miles, making up for the fact that the isolation of the upper portions of the course mean that there is little crowd support until about mile 16.
A top tip is that you should wrap up warm before the start. It was absolutely bloody freezing pre-race, and took me a good few miles to warm up once the race had begun. Definitely a race for extra layers to shed en route.
One tiny gripe – the race shirts were terrible. Cheap quality, and the sizing was way off- with arms long enough for a chimpanzee.
Anyway. I highly recommend it, and intend (lottery willing) to run it again next year.
2. Good pace runners are a God-send.
Thank you to the Cliff 3:45 Pace Runner. He (and I’m sorry that I never caught his name) kept the group going at a good clip, doled out salient advice at key moments (like good ways to run downhill) and just seemed like an all round nice guy. I’ll bet everyone who ran with him came in on time, and for me, his pacing got me to about mile 18 after which I had the confidence to kick on and achieve negative splits for the first time ever.
3. It can help to run without music.
I know 26.2 miles is a long way and a long time to be in the company of nothing but your own thoughts, but I have to say it was a revelation to me in terms of helping me actually focus on my running. I’ve heard it said that great running takes concentration, and my experience at St George kind of bears that out. With nothing distracting me, I was more in tune with how my body was feeling at different stages of the race, and also more connected with the race and the overall environment, which as I’ve already said, was pretty bloody amazing.
I’m certainly one for who music makes the training world go round for sure, but I think next time out I’ll be leaving the headphones off for the race itself.
4. Turn off the auto-pause on your watch.
I nearly blew my sub 3:40 finish because of what my watch was telling me. The reason it was wrong was a simple one; I stopped at about the 3 mile mark to take a leak (something I’ve never had to do in a marathon before) and because of auto-pause, my watch stopped too.
I didn’t think about this until after the race when my watch time (3:38:56) told me something different from the official time (3:39:46). My first reaction was one of extreme dismay (Goddammit I earned those 50 seconds!!) and a frantic search for the ‘where do I complain bitterly about the timing chip’ button on the website. Fortunately the lightbulb went off and all became clear. Moral of the story – turn off your auto-pause (and don’t stop to pee).
5. Running is bloody awesome.
OK – I didn’t just learn this in St George…but the journey back to fitness from my stress fracture was a tough one, and would not have been possible if I didn’t find the whole routine just so much fun. I love the challenge, the camaraderie with my fellow runners, the chance to go see some interesting places, and the opportunity to push myself to go places I didn’t think I could. I think I have a good few miles left in the tank yet…what about you?
Until the next time…