2 marathons in 6 weeks… what was I thinking?

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At the time of publishing, I am less than 1 week out from my second marathon in 6 weeks. A tad ambitious given that my first 2 marathons were 1 year apart!

5 days after Barossa Marathon, I thought I would be looking at just finishing the Gold Coast Marathon and getting some more sweet bling for my growing collection.

I ran the Gold Coast half last year, 6 weeks after my first marathon. The race was sort of an afterthought… I wanted to have something to look forward to after my overseas trip in May/June, and wanted to visit friends who had recently moved to the Gold Coast. It would be silly NOT to go on marathon weekend, wouldn’t it? And if I’m there, I might as well enter the half…

I went in underprepared, having had a full 3 weeks off running after the marathon and I had not run anything more than 12km in the 3 weeks immediately before the half. Not only had I spent 3 weeks not running, but also at the same time I was eating and drinking my way across Ireland. To top it off, I fell 5 days before the Gold Coast half, at the end of a training run, and banged up my left knee and shin.

Everything went well on the day. The half started in the dark at 6am (meaning a 4am alarm to get my brekky in, and a 5am taxi ride). The atmosphere was incredible and I managed to get a few high fives in towards the finish (I have a ‘thing’ where I have to high five at least 1 kid in every race otherwise it doesn’t count). Surprisingly I was less than 30 seconds away from a new half marathon PB… very happy with that! It’s a fast, flat course and the heat was not a factor as I was done by 7:45 and well amd truly brunching before any of my friends who were running the marathon had finished. It was getting pretty warm by then! Before that though, I got to watch from the grandstand as the first 3 placegetters finished the marathon, including the winner in a new record time for marathons run in Australia, which was an added bonus! Oh and let’s not forget the bling… it was a sweet medal, but then I saw one from the marathon which was twice the size, and I decided I needed one of those! One day I would run the Gold Coast Marathon, one day…

So what on earth made me decide it was a good idea to run 2 marathons in 6 weeks?
To answer that I need to go back 6 months or so. Around Christmas time last year, I went on a group ‘trail’ run which happened to be on the beach. I’m not accustomed to sand running and I seem to remember not enjoying it a great deal! It was an ‘out and back’, from Grange jetty to Largs jetty and back. I walked most of the way back.

On the way out, taking my mind somewhat off how much I was hating running on sand, I was running with an interesting guy who seemed to be pretty accustomed to running on sand (I soon found out he had done a desert ultramarathon) and also the whole ‘talking while running’ thing, something that at the time was not my strong point.  I seem to remember not contributing a lot to the conversation other than the occasional “uh huh” or similar. I think it was that day or soon after that he told me about the ultramarathon he was planning to do in the Himalayas in August… up and down mountains. If you want to know more check out his website:
http://kieronultrarunner.com/
and blog:
https://kieronultrarunner.wordpress.com/

How does this relate to a flat flat road marathon in Queensland in July? I’m getting there.

We have run together many times since then. Trails, roads, short, long, day, night, you name it. And over time I have been able to contribute more to the conversation than the occasional grunt… a sign of my improved fitness (if I could get a word in, that is!). My times improved and running began to feel easier.

Let’s get back briefly to that mountain ultra. What better preparation for a hard ultra in the Himalayas,  than a fast, flat road marathon a month or so before?  No, I’m not joking. He wanted to run a sub-3-hour marathon (something well beyond my reach even now) and Gold Coast is known for being the fastest in Australia. Naturally, being easily influenced (and it happens a LOT in running circles), I was more than happy to go along for the ride. Even though at the time I was building up to my second marathon about a year after the first. We entered just before the earlybird cutoff date and it was on!

I had to tweak my training. Did I continue to follow the training programme for Barossa and use Gold Coast as an ‘add-on’, having a short break after Barossa and doing a few 28-30k runs in between? Or did I shift my focus to Gold Coast and treat Barossa as a training run? In the end I decided to go with the former and I’m happy with that decision. I got my PB and if all goes well I’ll have another one in a week.

Right now I feel totally ready. I am running better than ever. I bounced back quickly after Barossa, running a reasonably fast parkrun the following Saturday with no evidence of any soreness. Since then I have run 2 parkrun PBs in consecutive weeks (after going more than 2 years between PBs) and doing my long runs at a good pace. The benchmark I aim for in my long runs is to complete the half marathon distance in under 2 hours – I’ve been hitting that mark very regularly lately.

I can’t explain why things seem to have fallen into place for me now but whatever it is, I hope it continues! I think my diet definitely could use some work – I’m sure I’m not getting enough protein, mostly due to the fact that I follow a mostly vegan/vegetarian diet. I plan to do something about that after the marathon… I certainly don’t plan to make any dramatic changes beforehand!

I don’t really have a plan yet. I am quietly confident of a PB (something I wouldn’t have even contemplated 5 weeks ago!) but haven’t quite got my pacing strategy worked out. I haven’t even got my race day outfit sorted yet but it won’t be too different from Barossa… it’s too late to test out any new kit now and be sure that it won’t cause me issues on the day! (I probably won’t be needing arm warmers this time!) I have a couple of pace bands (the same ones I used at Barossa) but not sure yet if I’ll use them. I have visions of chasing down the 3:30 pacer but that might be a bit out of reach…

All I can say now is… bring it on!

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