Saturday, July 19, 2008

Gold Coast Marathon 2008

Gold Coast - Before the marathon
6am starts never make me happy

I'll possibly annoy a whole country by saying this, but I don't really like Australia that much. Perhaps this can be blamed on the 6 days that I spent there not really presenting the best facets of the country; perhaps I was doomed from the start.

Qantas aren't doing great at the moment; laying off staff in the UK, engineers striking, fuel costs going up, etc etc. The only effect it had on me was that they got me to Sydney late, making me miss my connection to the onward flight to the Gold Coast. After an interminable wait, the hatchet-faced woman on the desk told me there was another flight leaving in 9 hours. When I didn't look incredibly grateful and started to kick up, she put me on a JetStar flight only 3 hours later, which was a boon of sorts, but it was already not that much fun. Sydney airport is a bit of a dump; it's not the kind of place you'd want to hang around for any longer than you had to.

Just to rub it in, if you want to go from the international terminal to the domestic terminal, the transfer bus charges you $5. What gives? I've never in my life known an airport to charge you for moving around inside it. Maybe it's all part of the warm Australian welcome.

Speaking of warmth, I'd been indoctrinated through years of advertising to believe that Australia was a sunny, warm place, full of happy-go-lucky people, unlike the unremitting misery of good old England. Therefore I was a bit put out to be met with grey skies, rain, and cold. Feeling it particularly badly after the warmth of Hong Kong - again, possibly not anyone's fault but mine.

So eventually I get to the Gold Coast, which frankly is the Antipodean version of Benidorm, and when I get to check in at my hotel I find I don't exist; or rather, my booking is with somebody who owns one room in the hotel that he lets out independently, and I have no way to contact him to let him know I need letting in. He randomly arrives after half an hour and shows me the room (hideous decor, but a nice view of the beach) and is one of those human beings with no volume control - just continuously shouting. Off he goes, I try to rest. Fail. Wander around the town. It's kind of grim - I suppose it is the off season - and it's chilly. Never mind, when the sun comes up on Saturday it will be warm.

The sun doesn't come up on Saturday. It rains all day. I go to get my race number, find I've missed the pasta lunch that I paid for in advance, eat some crap at a shopping centre, buy Snakes On A Plane on DVD, discover it really is that bad, go to bed early because the race starts at 6.50 and it's a 40 minute walk from where I'm cooped up.

I don't do mornings. I need a good few hours to regain my humanity, and that's when I've clambered out of bed at 8am. Getting up at 5.30 (3.30 HK time) was never going to be fun. I dress, stagger down to the race, worry that I'm going to miss the start and sprint the last km, find I'm five minutes early.

The course itself should be really fast - it's almost entirely flat, apart from two minor bridges. Unfortunately, I didn't bring any gel with me, so I do the whole race on nothing but water and whatever is left in my intestines from the previous two nights' Thai curries. This doesn't turn out to be much fun. I start with the 3.30 pace group and get dropped by them by the 20k point (maybe a lot earlier), spend the rest of the race feeling like I'll crap my pants, and at one point an urchin in a boat shouts at me to 'run faster'. Thanks for the advice, you grom.

At 37k or so I realise I have to get a wriggle on or I'll be slower than my first marathon, so I start pushing up. It's annoying to know I could have gone at that rate from earlier - feels much more like willpower rather than ability that's the problem - and eventually I'm about a minute and 40 seconds faster than my first marathon, but 15 minutes off my PB.

Clearly I wasn't trying hard enough because I could walk the day after without suffering or falling over, but really, not very happy with that.
0- 5 25:56
5-10 24:10
10-15 23:56
15-20 24:19
20-25 25:47
25-30 26:12
30-35 30:41
35-40 30:37
40-end 11:21
[Looking at that, the wheels fell off at the 30k mark quite dramatically. To add further insult, I've lost the dock for my Garmin so I can't upload the full record from that...]


Post a Comment