4 November 2014

Auckland Marathon 2014

The harbour bridge behind me on a perfect Auckland 
spring day. It doesn't get much better than this

I’d intended to put a positive spin on this race report but the more I reflect on the day the more I can’t escape that all too familiar feeling of disappointment. Setting that to one side, I was thrilled to take part. I love to run. It’s that simple.

Auckland again turned on her charm for the nearly 3,000 full marathoners. If I said it was slightly muggy most would say I was clutching. Fewer still would support the notion that at the 31k turn for home there was a mild head wind. I will say this though. A 6am start is bloody insane. Knowing all 5 alarms in the hotel room were set to 3am made sleep for me impossible for the second year running …

The view at 3.30am from our hotel room. Note the ferries below, ready 
to take us across the bay to Devonport and the start line

Conscious of that dodgy left knee of mine playing up again, I cleverly decided to finish the race as quickly as possible. Nothing silly though. If I followed the man with balloons tied to his shorts wearing the number 3.15 I’d be home in no time and relatively pain free I thought. Realistically a time of 3.19 (4.44 pace) was possible so the longer I kept those balloons in sight the better.

Those yellow bouncing balloons disappeared at around 17 km. It didn’t bother me. I was still running at a pace of around 4.35 and I felt really good too. At the half way point I felt even better! 1.37.37 at 4.37 seemed easy and best of all, the knee felt fine. I couldn’t believe it. The only concern I had was the amount of fluid I was drinking. It was hotter than I’m used to and the sensible thing was to drink earlier than I had planned. Previously this had always resulted in disastrous side stitches. That didn’t happen either.

I remember number 5642 just ahead of me within the mob of 3.15 runners. What struck me at the time was how effortlessly she seemed to eat up the distance. Silly I know but for at least a km I modified my cadence and arm carry to mimic hers. Of course in a discreet manly way I might add as I grappled for any advantage. Later I searched the results expecting to find her at around the 3.16 mark. To my surprise she finished in 3.06.22 and 6th female. Her splits read 1st half at 1.34.13, 2nd half at 1.32.09. The much sort after negative split. Therein lies the difference between us. Nancy Jiang is an accomplished marathon runner who ran to a plan built off the back of solid training and I hope many many years on the road.

Look what I found! The picture perfect running
form of Nancy. And to the right, my 5K splits on
the day

At 33k my average pace was still around 4.40 which I’d have easily taken before the start. What followed however can only be described as a weak limp finish. It wasn’t as if I’d hurt myself either. I struggle even now to put my finger on it. Last year I tucked in behind a couple for a good 4k which helped a lot. This year I seemed to find myself running alone. In fact I was hardly passed at all that final quarter which didn’t help. Or was it that I just couldn’t face that all too familiar pain of the final push once again. I coasted easily to the finish in a time of 3.23.38. I placed 217 overall and 22nd in my age group. The 3.19 time I’d hoped for earlier still some way off buggar it. (GARMIN SPLITS HERE).

This is me coasting to the finish just 
50m away. Where the hell was the fight?

I have to take some positives away though. I love to run. I love it more than I care to admit. Last Sunday was a day I’ll never forget in a line of many and I’m excited at the thought of another. I’m still on the improve and know I have a 3.15 in me and soon. Best of all, I seem to be injury free. Dodgy groin feels fine and so too is the knee and who’d have thought that just a few weeks ago?

The sport of running owes me nothing. I’m grateful for the happiness and good health it provides me. Because of this I’ll run as long as I can, as far as I can and as often as I can. Now to tackle my next training plan.


  1. Another full in the books though with a solid time. Good work.

  2. Thanks mate. Needed a kick up the arse in that last quarter though. Regular year round long runs (30K plus) is what's needed. I can't confine them to the month prior to any marathon anymore. What was I thinking! The ultra I have planned in the New Year might just be the event to take me to the next level.

  3. Bloody women! They're renowned for running negative splits and making it look easy. Anyway, glad you had a good day, learned a few lessons, and survived the 6AM start (yes, totally ridiculous). You look pretty relaxed in the pics. Good news re the injuries. Take your time with the recovery before ramping it up for the ultra.
    Must admit, I'm soft once I lose the PB (or goal) schedule in a long race. I don't like killing myself knowing I'll miss a PB by 30 seconds. Missing it by 2 minutes with less self-inflicted pain seems preferable these days.

  4. Couldn't have put it better myself. Have another look at that screen grab above Ewen. Have your ever seen a more balanced runner. Boarders on cheating and absolutely beautiful to watch. I'm going to introduce a subtle variation of this effortless glide into my own training. I'll be turning heads in no time.

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  6. I've had this strange feeling lately like I forgot to do something and tonight on my cold windy run it hit me that I forgot to check in on your marathon result!

    Sorry to have missed it. I feel for you as everything was going along nicely earlier on in this training block and I felt you were headed for a PB! But if it was so easy anyone could do it! Keep hitting it things will swing your way! Nice attitude under the circumstances keeping positive is all we've got.

    A marathon in Japan with a group or groups to run with may help a lot! Anyway. Well done, a pat on the back for enduring an back into it. Nothing to be concerned about at this stage!

    1. Thanks mate.

      I'm more determined than ever now damn it! I know I have a sub 3.10 in me one day. Perhaps Japan is the place to do it.