Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Marathon — Maybe

Joe Garland recently described, with particular eloquence, a conversation he had with himself while on a cold Walkman-less run. It was about the siren call of the marathon. Particularly the New York Marathon, and the magic of 'being carried by the crowd through Brooklyn'. It was about wanting to race 5Ks, 10Ks, half-marathons, and the fear of 'failing' at the marathon. It was about possibly not having the genetic gifts of a born marathoner.

Joe's conversation is similar to an on-and-off one I've been having with myself since my second marathon in June, 1981. That marathon was 3:28:28 — a 13 minute PB and sub-8-minute mile pace (I used miles and kilometres back then). I wouldn't finish another marathon until 1992. You see, 42.195 kilometres has never been my favourite race distance — but I've been thinking lately that I might run another marathon. My last was in 2005 — a very unsatisfactory 4:37.

With this scary thought in mind, I've decided to allow my Saturday long runs with the Molonglo group to gradually lengthen. Yesterday we ran 24 kilometres — starting in relative coolness, and finishing in uncomfortable warmth under an azure blue sky. At times I ran with Michelle (3:31:09 last year in Auckland). She was too fast, but graciously ran with us at the start, and stopped at the Mount Ainslie saddle for the group to catch up. If these Saturday runs get out to 30k, I'll ponder more seriously the prospect of a marathon. Perhaps at the Gold Coast in July, or Melbourne in October. I'd only start if I thought I was capable of a 'respectable' time. I'll define that for myself as 3:40, or on a dream day, a Boston Qualifying 3:35. My racing plans in the meantime, are at the track — trying to improve at 1500 and 3000 metres.

The Wednesday/Saturday running groupDecember BBQ with the Wednesday afternoon runners — Richard, Andy, Jen and Ruth. Chris was the honorary photographer


Anonymous said...

wannabe said:

Ewen, you are the Dame Nellie Melba of marathon racing.

Rob said...

You can do it Ewen. Make 2010 a Marathon year. Yeah!

strewth said...

Absolutely - run a marathon - if Canberra's not on I'll be looking for one too! You may as well run one, cos you'll be doing the training. That's a good piccie - we look very relaxed! :-)

Sling Runner said...

Yes, go for it, especially if you keep doing those weekend long runs on regular basis. I think Lydiard used marathon conditioning training for all of his athletes.

Girl In Motion said...

This is exciting! I hope you go for it. When something whispers like that to you, you should listen. And with 29 years since your last, it should be a wonderful change of pace with the training and all. Then again, if you decide not to, I understand that as well (too well). Good luck deciding!

Runner Susan said...

Ewen, you should put a register in for NY. I've been thinking about that one again. And the whole "It was about wanting to race 5Ks, 10Ks, half-marathons, and the fear of 'failing' at the marathon. It was about possibly not having the genetic gifts of a born marathoner." That's me. No genetic gifts here because I'd be on cloud nine to run a 4:37.

RJR said...

Whether you call it a 42.2 or a 26.2, the marathon is a wonderful distance, in my opinion. It's a long enough race to seem monumental, but not so long that you can't run fast. I say go for it.

trailblazer777 said...

tenth of tenth 20ten. I plan on being there. M50 needs a Marathon PB. You coming over to Perth for the Australian Masters???

Well done on the long run. Nice reindeer ears in the photo. see youve logged youyr first 1500m race for the year too. way to go.


I've been looking at a marathon plan by Marius Bakken, you stat out with 5-10k training move into 1/2 marathon training before a final 7 weeks of marathon work, maybe this could work for you?
Yes Ewen go for it!
Do it for yourself,do it for your dad!

Anonymous said...

I hope you decide to go for that marathon, Ewen. The marathon is a great goal in its own right. In addition, a winter spent preparing for a spring marathon can provide a good base for a great summer on the track.

speedygeoff said...

I vote for the 26.2 marathon.

Samurai Running said...

It would be a good way to put your knowledge of distance running to test on yourself.

Although you've been running for a while you haven't burnt yourself out running too many marathons in succession so you still probably have a fast one in you.

I'd go for it. If you come to Japan I'm sure I can organize, Mr. lacey, me and a couple of strong finishing females to pace you to whatever time you want.

By the way if you do a marathon in Melbourne I might come too, it looks like a good one.

Anyway I Don't want you to think that I'm simply being kind and supportive. I basically want to see you suffer ;)

jojo said...

one marathon was enough for me! well over 4 hours and i cried at the en. NEVER NEVER again! hit the wall at 20km and never really got over it! half will be the furthest for me

Andrew said...

Do it Ewen

Shane said...

You certainly do the K's for one, so not much will have to change apart from the long runs will need to exceed 30 k at some point. I agree the M50 table looks incomplete without a marathon PB there. Go for it!

Superflake said...

Considering you run a 45 trail race every march a marathon should be a cake walk. See you at Boston 2011. I'll buy the post race John Adams Lager.

Jog Blog said...

Being a marathon addict part of me says "yippee! Go for it!" but another part of me says "it is you and only you who is going to run your 42.2km and so don't be swayed by other people's enthusiasm. Only do it if you want to do it". If you do want to do it, then you will have lots of supporters and I will be one of them for sure.

Unknown said...

Your plan, Ewen, sounds like an eminently sensible one (unlike most of mine). The fact that you have sown the seed and are taking appropriate steps towards that goal means you'll probably find yourself on the start line of the mara soon enough. Look forward to reading your blog over the next year. Cheers, PB

TA and the Gnome said...

Go on... You know you want to... :-)

I'm intrigued by your comment "I'd only start if I thought I was capable of a 'respectable' time". I mean, I know the siren call of the PB and the apparent pointlessness of running at anything less than your best, but I'm starting to think that there may be value in running for the simple joy of spending 4 hours (or whatever) in the company of friends. This is the year I get to find that one out :-)


p.s. say G'day to Richard for me next time he's at Wednesday group...

Thomas said...

There's no such thing as "the genetic gifts of a born marathoner".

Marathoners are trained, not genetically engineered.

TokyoRacer said...

I would like to see you do one, but I think you should train properly for it. Thinking about a 1500 and a marathon at the same time does not seem like a proper mindset to me. Maybe you should do track stuff for the next 3 months and then do marathon training for an October race.

Julie said...

I think you should do NYC in 2010. That way we can have a special "international edition" of our running bloggers meetup. :)

If the marathon tempts you, then give it another shot. If I'm doing crazy shit like snowshoeing, relays and racing 5Ks this year, then the least you can do is run a marathon.

Ewen said...

Thanks all for your comments. Replies...

Wannabe, and some I know are the Dame Nellie Melbas of 800m racing.
Rob, thanks. I hope so.

Strewth, we do look relaxed - and not ugly ;)
Sling, yes the long runs worked for Lydiard's runners. Should be OK, as long as I don't get heatstroke ;)

Flo, thanks - I'm listening to voices. Also, it's only 5 years since my last, but 29 since my second.
Susan, I think I'd like to do NY one day. You have genetic gifts to race 400m, but I think you can run 4:37.

RJR, thanks. Good summary of the marathon.
TB, 10th of the 10th? I hadn't looked it up - see you there. Unfortunately not for the Aus Masters though.

Rick, I like the sound of that plan. I'll stay in touch.
Canute, thanks. Those are my feelings. The marathon training won't be wasted.

Speedygeoff, thanks. I'll vote for the 26.21875 marathon.
Scott, thanks for the offer. Suffering is a given with the marathon. Email me photos of your pacers ;)

Jojo, most 800m runners hit the wall at 20km ;)
Andrew, thanks!

Shane, thanks. An M50 PB for sure, but not easy!
Flake, if I make it I'll take you up on that.

Jog, thanks - that's sensible advice. I didn't know 82k mountain racers could be so sensible.
Paul, thanks. I'm known as eminently sensible, but racing a marathon is slightly crazy.

Bruce, trouble is, I don't know that I want to! If I run it'll be my best effort. I'll say g'day to Richard on Wednesday. He said you were his inspiration ;)
Thomas, I beg to disagree. There are natural marathoners just as there are natural sprinters and middle distance runners. I'm none of the above!

Bob, I'll be doing track stuff until the end of the season (2 months), but with a longer than usual long run. October sounds more likely than July.
Julie, thanks. I'd like to run NYC, but not after Melbourne in October. One year I'll make the upover bloggers meetup :)

Ali said...

Yes! I like!

Grellan said...

Looks like the monkey has been on your back for some time. Only one way to get rid of it.

Dubs said...

I would not be surprised if you pulled off a BQ. From the times you run - I believe you can.

I can't speak too much more about marathons until the afternoon of 1/17. I coached a marathon class since they asked me to be their coach - but hard to speak of an event you haven't run. By the way - all of my runners PR'ed or hit their goals, so I haven't been saying what they can do is more than they are capable of. :)

Dubs said...

Oh, and if you BQ for 2011, we can meet! My plan is to be there 2011. Again, I'll report back after the 17th. LOL

Robert Song said...

I am hoping to be doing a marathon this year but have zero expectation on doing a respectable time. Funny how ones priorities can change so dramatically so quickly.

You never know we may end up running in the same marathon. GC maybe a little early for me so it could be Melbourne before I am capable of making the distance.

Still I don't know about your strategy of having such a loose plan to get a respectable time. I find a firm committed goal coupled with specifically targetted training plan is what it takes to get the best performance.

rinusrunning said...

Yes, run the marathon whit fun and you can do it!.
Why not go to newyork 2010?, i go to run fun in Newyork, thats the marathon of your live.
Go for it..

speedygeoff said...

How about the Cadbury Marathon in Hobart, Tasmania, January 2011, aiming to just break four hours?
And I am told Customs don't mind it if you bring loads of chocolate back into Australia from there.

jen said...

How exciting! I know you could do it. I'm going for a 3:40 also, and considering how close we are in speed I know we can both do it! Even 3:35 on a good day. Keep us posted! In the meantime, enjoy the longer distance training runs and the good company! :)

Ewen said...

Thanks Ali - I think.
Grellan, don't know if it's a monkey, but I'll tell you when I get rid of it ;)

Dusty, well done. I should join your marathon class. All the best this weekend for your first marathon and BQ!
Robert Song, I understand your priorities. After your dramas last year, a finish would be brilliant. I'll have a committed goal and proper plan if I decide to train for a marathon. The long runs now are just to see if I can like long runs again.

Rinus, I'd love to run with the fun that you do! New York 2010 is too soon. One day though - yes.
Speedygeoff - maybe. Then Cadbury Tasmania would be my first overseas marathon ;

Jen, I hope we can both do it! After your IM finish, I know you can.

Bill Carter said...

Hi Ewen

I'm really sorry to read that your dad passed away. Whatever one's faith, we have to comfort ourselves in what they accomplished in their life and how they enriched ours.

Glad to hear that you are throwing around the idea of doing a marathon. From what I have heard, they can be both a rewarding experience and somewhat hard on the body. I'm joking Ewen. You know very well what the marathon is like as do I having done 27? now in the last 5 years. Just don't go all crazy and try and do 4 or 5 a year!

Take care my friend and best of luck with the training.

Joe Garland said...

I still don't know, and it's quite the individual thing. But, as we Yanks might say, there sure are a lot of people who've drunk the Kool-Aid.

I was running last week in Central Park. The thought occurred to me. I am so glad I'm not doing Spring-marathon mileage.

And you, of course, are always welcome to come for a run in Central Park, racing or not.

Ewen said...

Thanks for your kind thoughts Bill. No need to worry - 1 a year is plenty for this old dog. All the best with your training too.

Joe, I hadn't heard that expression. Marathon mileage doesn't worry me, it's just the Saturday long run in this summer heat. I hope to see you in Central Park some time in your summer of 2011 :)