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Energizer Night Marathon Race Report
by Denis Oakley in

I'm home chugging beer. It feels good.

First off I have to thank Senay who is an absolute star for letting me do a marathon on her birthday. Thank you my love.

I was doing this marathon to boost my marathoning skills and also to test my level of fitness. Basically I approached it as a long training run to see how I got on.

My race plan was fairly simple. First half take it easy, next 15 step up the pace, last few k take her home. I was also using a run walk strategy. 9 minutes running and 1 minute walking all the way through to the 36k mark when I'd go into continual running.

Nutrition - I decided to rely on race nutrition with the addition of a caffeinated gel for about the 30km mark. I had a big bowl of oatmeal with sabah honey 2 hours before start and 750ml of go juice in the 1/2 before start.

Kit - I was wearing my new K-Swiss Kona C shoes which had only 12km on the clock. A calculated risk. They felt comfortable and all the alternatives were worse. There was a possibility that they would cause me to DNF if they threw up any serious bio-mechanical problems.

Driving down it was 41 degrees. Oh dear. I had a bit of difficulty finding parking - it didn't help that the 14 pages of printed race instructions were still at home. Still I sorted that out in good time and made it down to the race start. Said hi to Julie Thurston for the first time in the flesh, Keat Song, Frank, Ben who was going to run fast and also Mac and Shazly on the snap attack team. Shazly is selling photos at RM2.99 for the race and well worth the price.

Hot hot hot start and so I decided to keep my plastic water bottle and filled it half full with water. The first 15km went by fairly easily. I was a bit frustrated about slowly falling behind people that I could run faster than but I trusted in the plan and knew that if I kept my patience I'd start knocking them off after the 21km.

There was an nice breeze which made the heat bearable but by the half way point it was dark for a while and the heat was less of an issue. We got sprayed with water by the firemen which was nice but it was cooler by then.

I was still carrying my water bottle at this point and topping it up top the 1/2 way point at every aid station. Water to start with and then a mix of Gatorade and water. Gatorade is disgusting acidic stuff and really kills your stomach. Yuck.

Shortly after the firemen I needed a pee - first and only - it felt good but due to the lack of light I couldn't do a colour check. I also started seeing people coming back the other way. This occupied me for the next hour or so until i realised that we weren't doing a circuit but rather a convoluted out and back. Wish I'd read the map better.

I was also starting to get a little bit bugged by the lack of km markers. I'd last seen one at 14km in the light and it was now dark and I was sure that in 40 minutes or so I should have seen the 15km. Eventually I reached the turnaround - well I guess that's what it was because of the timing mats. I'd started to pick the pace up a little bit on the approach to the turnaround and felt very comfortable.

For the next 10-12km it was great. I kept knocking one person after the other out and then hunting down the next. I had a good cadence with no particular discomfort. The lack of singage was making it difficult to judge my pace - I was also using my iPhone to measure my walk breaks. By about 30km these were become a necessity as my calves and quads were really starting to hurt. I was comfortable with this. High cadence - keep swinging my feet and push through.

I was also starting psych myself up for the speed increase for the last few kilometres - judging when this started was really hard and by now the continual hills were starting to grind me down. I tried to boost the speed but the muscular strength left in my legs wasn't enough and I wasn't prepared to push the pain barrier too much.

Hills degenerated into power walking and then I power walked from about 37km through to 39 1/2km. I then got talking to an English chap which was nice but he was such a whinging pom that at the next drinks station I let out a bellow of rage against the gods and pushed myself forward.

I went fast and just felt my speed bleeding away like I had a cut jugular. Coming down towards the start IO picked up speed and took it into a sprint - but it was a kilometre still to go the finish. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAArgh. Pushed hared through the last kilometre and hurtled into a crowd of 10km's crowding up the finish. Sorry if I hit you but you should't have been in the fuckin way.

Time was about 4:40 but there was no timing clock.  So I have no real idea.

OK. So how did it go? What was I trying to achieve? To get a marathon under the belt - improve confidence - and to check my level of fitness.

I'm happy that I did all of those. Time was a bit outside the 4 - 4 1/2 hour range I was looking for but not too fussed.

I'd done precious little endurance training and had only a few 20km runs under the belt before I did the race. The muscle failure in the last quarter therefore isn't a big surprise. What was interesting is that I can boost up to a hard effort in the water - with heavy breathing - even with dead arms. I couldn't do it on the run. I've missed a few key strength building sessions so who do I have to blame?

Heat? Wasn't too worried by it. The take it easy for the first half made that a non-problem and whilst it cooled from 40 down to 33 degrees during the course of the race I wasn't unduly discomforted by the heat. I used sponges a couple of times but did not feel a huge need for them. I was keen on cold water by the last 10km.

Feet were good - but I'll cover that in a separate review of the K-Ona C's. Arms and shoulders and upper body were stiff by the end of the race - mainly due from the heavy swim training I've been doing. Quads and calves hurt a lot - funny that. :)

Ankles were a little bit sore especially just after the race finish and my arches were unhappy. Knees were also sore. During the race I'd though for a bit that I may have a bit of ITB but that passed as did a bit of cramp in my left calf at about the 18km mark.

So lots of room for improvement but pretty confident that as I increase the training and get more marathons under the belt this year that my times are going to start to come down quickly. I hope so because running non roads is boring.

(Photos courtesy of Snap Attack)


plee said...

Well Done Denis! Great report and fascinating observations! It was good to bump into you in the bus after the race! Good luck with yr coming swim event!

Denis Oakley said...

Thanks Paul. I really appreciated you being there at the end of the Marathon. I was totally zonked and had no idea about where I was going. You got me hoe. Cheers

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