After completing the Queenstown Marathon as my first marathon back in 2014 in 5:07:57, I have gone back each year with a goal of completing the marathon in under 5 hours.
Unfortunately that goal for the past few years just hasn't happened. 2014 5:06:53 2015 5:00:11 (yeah missed it by 11 seconds) 2016 6:02:55 due to being injured until 2 weeks before 2017 & 2018 Did Not Start, due to injury. Finally, this year it happened with a massive 40 minutes 21 seconds faster than my course best time. Some things can take time, in my case the 4 hours 19 minutes 50 seconds of this year's 2019 marathon was a fraction of time involved in a long awaited goal. I knew this year that a lot of things needed to change in order to get my goal for Queenstown.
🤦♂️I stopped doing stupid amounts of kilometers out there on the hills and roads with my biggest training week not even reaching 80km total.
🛌 I refrained from running other events during my training, just because my friends were running them didn't mean I had to, this allowed me to get my needed rest & recovery
🍗I got a Nutritionist. Jamie from P3 Athletica to help me out to help with my weight and fueling, the weight loss has made a huge difference, certainly makes a huge difference to my running fueling right for it.
📝 My running coach Gary House gave me a completely different training plan to last years to help with speed, distance, strength and to not break me prior to the event.
🏋️Gary's Gym sessions also came into my training plan as well as core strength sessions
👂 Listened to my body more, meaning I would actually backed off training if I felt ill or not able to I stead of training no matter what
A number of things I have continued with since last year, helped me make the start line.
👩🔧Regular visits to the team at NZBMA, Hannah, Olivia and Dawn have all worked on keeping my body functioning during it's training.
🦵 Sessions with the Physio Adrian Hamill from PhysioMed when my accidents happened.
🧘♂️ Regular stretch sessions at FrontRunner Colombo, these sessions are one of my weekly highlights of my week, always has me laughing, thanks Oska and Danual for running these.
Also a massive thanks to all the coaches at the Kathmandu Run Club #kmdrunclubchch, they have shared their knowledge & given me tips to help me with my running. They may not realise it, but I had been listening to them all, sometimes it takes me a while to realise how right they are, but it does finally sink in. Also the fellow Run Club runners, my Thursday nights are always a highlight of the week for me because of these guys and the community we have. It's great to catch up with them and have a chat about our last or next events, training, etc... Or just life in general. The same goes to the RunStrong Club, we don't see each other apart from on old Fakebook, but love the online community with these fellow runners.
So... A quick run down on the actual event (if you have got this far).
Well, it was another cold and wet wait at the start line. I guess I should be use to it by now, it seems every year when I actually get around to running it, the weather is terrible.
I waited around under what little shelter there was under the trees for the race to begin, spotting my friend Mel I headed over and had a little warm-up run with her a few minutes before the race was due to start.
It was time to line up ready to start, I considered lining up in the third wave, but in the end decided I would start off in the second wave, aiming for the Sub 4 hour Marathon if everything went well. I knew that was going to be happening only if everything went well and would be a big ask, but I figured training had been going well so why not give it a shot. Before I knew it, start time, the countdown began and off we went.
Having run the same course a few times before I knew I could take the first few kms a bit faster in spots and back off where needed. I skipped the first aid station as I didn't need any water at that point, during my training I was use to getting to at least a coupe of hours before I needed fluids so would be a while before I needed any. After getting to about 5km's I noticed I was starting to heat up, perhaps the thermal top I had on wasn't the best idea after all as the rain had stopped. I thankfully had put a t-shirt on over my Thermal so I ended up taking the t-shirt and the thermal top while I was still running, chuck the t-shirt back on and then tied the Thermal top around my waste. I wanted to ditch the thermal top as I hate running with things tied around my waste.
It was then on past the next aid station, the previous time I ran the marathon I had to stop and wait at this aid station for about 5 minutes for a toilet to become free, thankfully there was no need to stop at that one either and I continued on. It wasn't long before I reached Lake Hayes, this is a stunning spot to run, and I have been lucky enough to enjoy running around here on while being down in Queenstown on my work visits in the past. I knew out of all the sections of the course this one was probably going to be the toughest bit. While I had been training well for the Marathon, I had forgotten to really take into account how much elevation there really was and this section certainly had more noticeable elevation in such a small area than probably the rest of the course.
After completing the loop of the lake I knew I had gone out a little too hard. While I was still on target for the Goal A time, I knew that I had put probably more energy into my run than what I should have, that or I should have probably just been training more on hills. I ended up having to walk up the last climb just after the lake to the aid station where I refueled and continued on. On the way towards the half way point I met a guy who was running his 12 Marathon in 10 months, I can't remember his real name but his Racing Bib was labeled "Run to Eat" he was beginning to hurt as well, he said, I thought they said "I thought they said the course was flat", I corrected him and told him "No, they said the course was flat out beautiful".
I reached the Half Marathon mark right on 2 hours, exactly where I was hoping to be, but also knowing that while the rest of the course was easier to run, it was not going to be done likely in the 4 hours that I had hoped. I saw my friend Rich there who was helping with the timing on the course, so I quickly asked him if I could give him my Thermal top which I was still carrying, I was able to just throw it on the ground and he was able to pick it up for me and deliver it to me later that evening.
The next 10km was nothing special, there was a bit of a downhill which everyone seemed to slow down on (it was a bit steep), but I love the downhills so was able pick up the pace on this section and passed a number of people on the way down. Up a small bridge onto the next aid station and then down again back onto the flat. From here the course had a number of small changes done from the previous 3 times I had done it... nothing extreme but it did add the occasional surprise seeing some new things for the first time. There was no massive hill at the 30km mark anymore, instead the track headed off to the left instead of heading up. While this did add some disappointment for me not running the same course, it did help my overall time as I didn't have to slow down too much for the hill.
As I approached an underpass I could hear a crowd of people cheering, I couldn't see anyone so just kept on running, after a couple of minutes I eventually got to the underpass and headed under it, as I came out I saw a group of people cheering everyone on, I commented about how awesome they were cheering us on and congratulated them for being loud enough to be able to hear them 2 minutes before I even got there.
33km in and I started to feel cramp kicking in, a few pulses of cramp here and there and I knew I had to slow down, occasionally I had to walk, but I would soon be able to pick up the pace, unfortunately if I went just a little too fast the cramp would kick in. At this point I knew for certain I was definitely not going to get Sub 4 hours, but that's OK, I had 4 other goals that I could aim for.
Goal B New Marathon PB (Sub 4:11:54)
Goal C Sub 4:15
Goal D Sub 4:30
Goal E Sub 5 hours
While I had hoped to be trying to finish off the last few kms picking up the pace a bit like I had with my progressive runs, unfortunately the cramp made that part a no no. I just had to focus on how I was feeling and try and keep going as fast as I could without the cramp kicking in, this meant dropping my pace to around 6:15min/km. Doing the Math's in my head I realised that the new PB wasn't going to happen either, but I sort of had a feeling that could be the case a few kms' earlier before the cramp started to kick in, but there was still a small chance I could make the Goal C time of Sub 4:15, a couple kms' from the finish and I knew that wasn't happening either. Oh well, I would still be under the 4:30 time and well under the 5 hour mark, so I carried on. Finishing off running around Queens Park, it was the final push through the township, it's one of my favorite parts of the entire race approaching the finish, having the crowd cheering you on, you feel like an elite athlete. I began to approach the second to last intersection before the final hill when I heard my name called out, it's not unusual seeing our names are printed on our Bibs, but this voice was familiar, I looked up and saw my friends Amy, Jen & Chris there calling out to me, this encouraged me more to push harder, little did they know at this point that cramp had been kicking in for the last few kilometers. I reached the final hill, and up I went, more voices calling out to me, I didn't want to stop that close to the finish, I saw a lady walking up and I was like No, do not stop, I wanted to pass her, but the cramp was starting to kick in again, stuff it I thought to myself, I ended running the final hill with straight legs, I'm sure it was probably one of the weirdest styles of running that day, but it did allow me to power it up the hill. Finally at the top I could look down and remainder of the course to the finish. I took off down the ramp and crossed that line finally breaking the 5 hour mark at the Queenstown Marathon.
Looking up I saw my cousin Rana, she was handing out the medals, she was due to leave, but thankfully had decided to wait around until I crossed the line so she was able to personally hang that medal around my neck. It certainly made the entire run more rewarding having it presented to me by a family member.
Well, that's it... hopefully I didn't bore you too much with the read of my 2019 Queenstown Marathon run, it was a run to remember for sure, not my fastest time, but to be honest, possibly one of the most satisfying runs I've done as it took several attempts to do in my goal time and when I finally achieved that goal I smashed it.
Will I be back for the Queenstown Marathon again... well, I won't say No, it's a great course, but the overall price for the event when you way up all your other expenses is rather high (accommodation and travel being the highest costs). In the meantime I'll be focusing more on some Ultra Marathons and just taking care of my body a bit more so I don't break myself as often.