Sorry about that folks, I had written a short entry here giving the brief details, and I thought I had published it, but the laptop ran out of batteries before I could finish.
So to get Tesso out of suspenders (do they make suspenders for compression tights?), I came second in the Pichi Richi Marathon on Sunday in 3:02:25, a PB by almost 17 minutes. Not far off my A-goal, definitely reached my B-goal of a good solid PB, no need to mention C.
OK, here we go. We travelled up to Port Pirie on Saturday, checked into a crappy little motel in town then went over to Gladstone to see some friends for the afternoon. We got back not too late and got to bed fairly early. Even the kids got to sleep early thank goodness.
Woke up early and drove the hour or so to Port Augusta. Had a mild panic as we couldn't find where the start was. Made it with about 5 minutes to go before entries were cut off. Did a quick warm-up then stood around for a few minutes before the start. The temprture was pretty good, around 9-10 degrees I reckon, with a slight headwind. We started and made our way through town out to the turnoff at Stirling North. Right from the outset, there was a 3 man bunch, which stayed together until about 10 km. After that, it was me and the eventual winner (Yilma Woldgabreal - hope I got that right) for the next 25 km. Carly and the kids followed along in the car, handing me powerade at every second drink station. Funnily, Yilma's family followed along too, except they met him a few hundred metres past each of the drink stations.The next several km were fairly tedious, flat, straight road travelling through a saltbush area, with the occassional house, tree or rusty old car.
Then the hills started.
We passed through the half marathon start in 1:28:28, just before the start of that event. This was one of the highlights of the race for me, as we were given a big cheer as we passed through the start. This really spurred me on, if only for a few hundred metres before another long hill. A couple of km later, we were overtaken by the lead half marathoners, but I reckon we were only overtaken by 5 or 6 half marathoners for the rest of the race.
Despite the fact that this course is extremely hilly, I was surprised how little it slowed us: a couple of km splits were actually faster than the splits over the flat part of the course! At about 12 km to go, I dropped off the leader for a couple of km, then pegged him back at about 9 km to go, only to lose him again at the start of the downhill into Quorn with 6-7 km to go. At that point, I usually start to struggle in the Marathon, but although I was really hurting, my km splits for the rest of the race stayed pretty good right to the end. With about a km to go, I saw Ian Roberts (doing the half) gaining on me, but I managed to hold him off, and he even gave me a bit of a gee up with 100 m to go, pushing me over the line at a good trot.
The atmosphere at the finish was great, with many people staying around to receive all of the finishers. My only fault with the whole event was that the presentation was quite late to start with, then stretched on even later due to some technical problems. I had to leave after they had presented the marathon awards so that we could get back to Gladstone to see out friends again.
I won my age group, for which I got a small trophy, a little LED torch and a bottle of local (Bundaleer) wine, although I'm not sure that there were any other people in the 18-29 age group in the marathon.
After the race I was sorer than either of my previous marathons, not as sore as after the 100 km Trailblazer, but I have recovered much better. This morning I even went for a 15 mnute run, so the recovery is going well.
The next goal is to get under 3 hours at the Adelaide Marathon. Many people said that I should be able to get well under 3 hours if I could run Pichi Richi in 3:02. Estimates range from 2:40 to 2:55. I wouldn't call myself a hill specialist, but I would say that I am stronger than most at hills, so I reckon my result this race will translate to one of the higher estimates. I'll be taking it pretty easy this week, then next week we are in Sydney for a holiday, so I should get a pretty good rest before launching back into a couple of weeks heavy mileage and then tapering for Adelaide.
I'll try to get some photos up when they become available on the SARRC or Pichi Richi websites.