O'Keefe Rail Trail Marathon

I had an interesting time at the O'Keefe Rail Trail Marathon yesterday. I went into it with lots of pains, all stemming from my hamstring 'clunk' problem that refuses to go away. I was afraid it was going to be a painful marathon since everything starts hurting on my long runs these days and I hadn’t gone beyond 21 kilometres since my last marathon in mid February. This was a long break between marathons for me.

I started out and as usual could not understand why the entire field ran away from me while I thought I was not running all that slowly. I felt I was running my usual training pace. By about 6 km  I had some pain in my hamstring, basically some tightening which I thought I had better ignore. At 10 km I decided to try my utmost to speed up; I thought I would try it and see what happened. Whether I conked out at 30 km or managed to keep going, at least I would know I had given it my best effort. Amazingly I managed to put on some speed and over the rest of the route I passed a number of runners, and I felt very positive.

By half way I was in real pain, all over the top half of both legs, but I was determined to carry on and just finish this thing as soon as I could. I remembered how I had found a burst of hidden reserves at the end of the Kyoto Marathon which I had not fully utilised due to running out of road, and I thought that this time I would try to finish with nothing left in the tank. I ploughed on and told myself to ignore the pain.

Around 35 kilometres I was exceedingly tired and all of a sudden I realised the pains had gone. How extraordinary! I guessed that my brain was putting out 'I’m tired' signals rather than 'I’m in pain' signals. I could hardly keep up any pace at all but I knew I had already done the bulk of the hard work. Some of the stretches were very straight and monotonous and it took lots of mind games to get through those. An awful lot of this race is steady uphill.

On the whole I liked the course more than last year. I noticed more of the scenery. But it was too hot for me and a lot of the route was very exposed. I poured cold water down my back and drank as much as I could, but they only provided water at the aid stations.

I ended up with a time I was happy with. I didn’t want to go too close to 5 hours and I beat my goal of sub 4.45 quite comfortably with 4.37. That was only 10 minutes slower than last year, and everyone was slower this year. Nobody passed me after the first 10 kilometres. I was very, very sore at the end and felt quite sick, but I had made it.

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