Running Man

I’m a runner.

This is something that I rediscovered when I was 34. I did quite a lot of running as a boy, right up until the time I left school. Actually, I slacked off at the beginning of year twelve, but that’s another story. I became fairly sedentary in my early 20s and my weight gradually ballooned, even when I became a commuter cyclist in the mid-1990s.

In mid-2002, I began walking at lunchtime with friends around the Tan. I saw quite a few runners and, after a while, decided I would join them. The first time, I got about 100m before thinking I was going to collapse and die of a heart attack or exhaustion. Mind you, I was about 140kg at that stage. I thought: “it’s OK, it’ll just get easier each time”, so I tried again a few days later and got about 50m. But after that, it did get better.

I ran the City to Surf in 2003, a half-marathon in 2005 and a marathon in 2006.

But in February this year, I stubbed by left little toe as I walked past a door. It really hurt, as it does, but a few hours after the pain of the stubbed toe had subsided, the whole outer side of my foot felt like it had been given half a dozen good whacks with a cricket bat. Walking was painful for a few weeks, and running was completely out of the question. I waited about 6 weeks, and tried running again, but the pain was still very much there. So, in May, I went to see a Podiatrist at the Olympic Park Sports Medicine Clinic. It was time to put the feet in for a service. I cannot recommend those folks highly enough. My Podiatrist confirmed what I had long suspected: my feet were flat as pancakes and if I wanted to keep running, I needed orthotics. She also suggested I rest the toe a bit longer and took an x-ray just in case, which came back negative. So I got the orthotics and rested the foot. Took my medicine.

The good (no, great!) news is that I’m back running again. I’ve run 3 times in the past two weeks (10min, 20min, 25min), and while I’m pleasantly surprised that I haven’t lost all my fitness after several months without running, it’s pretty tough when I get to the 20-minute mark or so.

It’s such an incredibly good feeling to be running again. When you are something and you can’t do it, it’s so frustrating, even depressing. But when you get back to doing it again, well, there aren’t too many things that feel so good!

I did it! Mara-DONE.

Today, I ran the Melbourne Marathon. My time was 5hrs 10min, which was a bit slower than I expected. But the goal was to complete it, and that I did. It was really, really, REALLY hard. I was going fine until about the 32km mark feeling strong and cruising, when muscles in my legs started to cramp and had to switch to alternating between walking and running for the remaining 10km. I can still walk, but it’s a bit like The Mummy, all stiff-legged and slow. (Update: looks like I listened to too much well-intentioned advice and drank far too much water, resulting in a classic case of hyponatremia.)
Last year when I ran the half marathon, I said that I wanted to lose another 20kg before the full marathon. Unfortunately I only lost 5 of those 20, and really felt it in the latter stages. Looking on the bright side, I lost a shade over 3kg during the race 🙂

It feels really good to have achieved such a huge personal goal. But I don’t think I’ll do it again. I may run more marathons, but with more preparation, and definitely not until I’ve reached my goal weight of 83kg or less. What I won’t do again is run for five hours, the last two in serious pain. That’s just nuts.

Martin and Daniel at the Starting LineDaniel with me at the start.

Footnote: The weather was absolutely perfect! A bit of drizzle at the start, 10 deg C, bright and sunny with a max of 17 by the time I got to the city, and a howling (20-30kt) cool southerly the whole way. I only caught a bit of a headwind after turning at the Beach Rd-Nepean Hwy roundabout, and then only for a couple of minutes. The rest of the time the wind was at my back and constantly cooling me down. A runner could not ask for more! Especially after a week of high-20s and more 25-30 days forecast for the coming week.

Stats from the heart-rate monitor:

Km Time Av HR Notes
1 5.25 152 Too Fast! Slow down!
2 5:33 142 Still a bit fast, but the HR is settling
3 5:58 143 That’s more like it!
4 5:54 145  
5 6:07 146  
6 6:08 147  
7 6:06 145  
8 6:09 148 HR still a little high
9 6:09 147 nice and steady
10 6:19 147  
11 6:35 148 drinky
12 6:09 147  
13 6:11 147  
14 6:15 152  
15 6:23 152  
16 7:06 149 toilet break 🙂
17 6:35 150  
18 6:37 151  
19 6:39 152 still feeling great
20 6:54 158 getting into the hills
21 6:58 159 hills
22 7:03 158 more hills
23 6:46 157 a few downhills 🙂
24 7:41 159 I’m really sick of these hills
25 7:07 159 still more hills
26 6:48 167 need to slow down again
27 7:44 157 better
28 6:42 165 too fast again
29 7:36 154 much better, feeling great
30 9:35 153 stopped to see Deb and the kids at South Rd
31 7:53 155 slowing a little, starting to feel sore
32 9:28 145 had to start walking halfway through this one. The cramps have hit.
33 8:39 138 cramps marginally better
34 8:51 137 well, at least I’m not going too fast anymore!
35 9:37 127 really struggling
36 9:50 134 more walking than running now
37 9:07 139 a bit more running
38 8:53 145 able to do a bit more running. Hi Bobby!
39 8:58 143 still doing a bit more running, but it’s barely faster than walking…
40 8:54 140  
41 9:23 134 cramps are bad, just walked this one
42 + 0.2 11:21 135 managed to run the last 200m! glad that’s over
Total: 5:10.06 149


So I’m all paid up and registered for the Melbourne Marathon on the 8th of October.

I’ve been concentrating on the longer runs lately, going for two or three one-hour runs during the week, and a longer one on the weekend. My long run last Sunday was two hours, and I was pretty sore the following day (knees and hips mainly, muscles in the legs feeling fine), and not too bad today. Certainly much better than after my half-marathon last year. So I feel pretty good about completing the distance, but it will definitely take me at least 4 hours.

So if you’d like to come and cheer me along, the course is on the website. I’m going to pace myself at 6min/km, so I expect to be at the 10km mark at 9am (Thames Promenade & Nepean Hwy), 20km at 10am (Reserve Rd & Beach Rd), 30km at around 11-11:10am (South Rd & Beach Rd) and the finish line between 12:15 and 12:30. I think I’ll need the most encouragement after the 30km mark, so feel free to sleep in and come to the later stages to give me a boost.

My race number is 681 (with a red background, indicating full marathon competitors).

Wish me luck!


I ran in the inaugural Run for the Kids fun-run on Palm Sunday. I wasn’t sure if I would even start, as I had injured my hip two weeks before: I went to bed on the Saturday night feeling fine, but woke up on the Sunday morning and I could barely walk. Turns out I had somehow irritated my right hip joint, and the muscles around it had kicked in to protect it. In particular my rectus femoris was extremely tight. But with a few physio sessions over the following week with the amazing Steve Evans at the Alphington Sports Medicine Clinic, I was back running 3km the next Wednesday and 6km on Friday. The R4K was 14.7km over a spectacular course: over the Bolte Bridge, through the Domain Tunnel (which was very hot and humid) and through the City to the finish at the Childrens’ Hospital. I finished in 81m 39s, which really surprised me as I was expecting to run a lot slower. I honestly felt like I was running much slower than that – my average heart rate for the run was 157. I guess all the training is paying off.