Alice Spings Running Festival – 2015 – Marathon Recap

Sit back and enjoy because you’re going to get hit with the typical information overload that I hope not only inspires you, but helps you with tips and suggestions you might not have thought of before.

In 2011 I ran the Alice Springs Marathon in 3:18:35. This was about a half minute faster than the average time of my prior 13 marathons. The course was west of town and had a 2nd half climb into headwind and a rising sun. My 2nd place finish, far behind Ben Streeter who ran 2:55 netted me a $30 credit at Bendigo Bank, where I still maintain the same account. In 2012, I was in Canada at Ironman Mont-Tremblant suffering through a 3:52 IM Marathon. In 2013, my girlfriend at the time, Fiona and I ran the 1/2 marathon as part of training for Ironman Western Australia quickly getting passed by Steve Moneghetti. In 2014, I ran the new course for the Alice Springs Running Festival suffering in 3:28 having run 48KPW for the 2 weeks leading up to the event, after 6 weeks of wedding/honeymoon/travelling the world. (Fiona was smarter and only ran the half). So that brings me to 2015. My 3rd attempt at the Alice Springs Marathon and one that would shatter last years time by 26minutes and set a Personal Best (PB) by nearly 4 minutes in 3:02:34. So lets talk about the last year and race week.

After the honeymoon and before the ’14 marathon, I weighed about 91KG. But before the ’15 marathon, I weighed about 82KG. I achieved this primarily through a vegetarian/mostly vegan diet that went into full force in Jan’15 after weaning down over the 2nd half of ’14. The fitness also picked up as I joined 5 other ASTC athletes that went to Geelong 70.3 in Feb’15. We also went to Ironman Australia in May’15.

At IMA I went 3:36:34, this after a 3.8K swim and 180K ride. 2 weeks later, I went to Coober Pedy and took 1st place in their Inaugural Breakaways Bolt Marathon in 3:19:49.

Since then, we have been training for 11 weeks for Ironman Western Australia and while the Alice Springs Marathon was neither an A or B race, it was a C race. This meant I would not taper and would train right through it. This would be daunting and I would still need to be careful. After all, in the 7 days leading up to the race, I trained 29.5 hours including: 59K of running, 495K of cycling, and 17K of swimming.

So how would I go? What did I want? All week I told myself “You are going to break 3:05”, “You can do this, you will do this.”, “You are in that good a shape”, “Just do it”. The night before, I wrote on my hand the pace of a 3hr, 3:05, and 3:06:43, which were my A, B, C goals. Mentally, I was there, but the uncertainty was there as to if I could perform under such fatigue. I also had the confidence in knowing that 3 weeks prior I had gone 1:28:28 in the ABC Half Marathon. This race predicated me to run a 3:04:38 based upon the Jack Daniels PhD Running Formula:

Thursday night we got a Party Size pizza from Rockys. Friday I started carbo loading, with 2 large pancakes at work covered in syrup, had 2 Sprites, 1 Coke, lots of other stuff during the day, that night was pasta at home. Saturday involved more than 6 hours of training which was fueled with 3+ bottles of gatorade, recovery drinks, muffins, 2 boxes of chocolate chip cookies, and more pasta for dinner (with a glass of red wine). I laid out my things and went to bed.


4:30 AM wake up, the usual 2 hour wake up prior to a race. 1 Coles Muffin + 1 Regular Red Bull; no banana today. An hour to go and I had another Red Bull. We got ready headed to Lasseters Casino. Dropped off our bottles and hit the loo. We sat in the car until 7 minutes to go since the race start was 10 meters away. (Another bonus to this race). 15 minutes prior to the race I had Clif Shot Blocs 200 calories. No warm-up run. We headed to the line. Steve Moneghetti said a few nice words, I kissed Fiona, said a prayer and did the sign of the cross. GO!

“Oh Shit!”, I had to laugh as one of the guys saw Chris, Roxy, myself, and one other take off like a bat out of hell. Well, I didn’t go that hard but Chris certainly did. The air was freezing. I had used the last 4 weeks training on this course, with my crew, at this time, to know exactly what I need to wear and how I would start. I had brand new shoes on with less than 5K. (They are the same exact model so no worries there). I had shorts and a triathlon TYR singlet with nutrition in the back pocket. On top was a Sugoi 140.6 Thermal that I would discard when I got warm. Used my brooks running gloves i’ve  had for 6 years now and my Garmin 310XT with HR Monitor.

So I headed out, got into my groove and plugged away. I passed the 3rd place person, 2nd male about 4K in. Past the Steiner school and up the small hill, I put Roxy on about 52 seconds in front of me, after 34minutes of racing, Chris was way too far in front to even bother doing the math. We headed out east on Ross River Highway and I kept Roxy in my sights, about 200m-800m ahead of me for most of the time. At 1:04 i took off my thermal while running and gave it to a volunteer. I also had a half bottle of my own gatorade. At the turn around, I was 8 minutes down on Chris Hunter and 2-3 minutes down on Roxy. I also took my ARO supplement which has caffeine equal to 2.5 cups of coffee as well as creatine and some other energy blend. I buy it from I continued to plug away, eating 100 calories of GU Chomps or Clif Shot Bloks every 20-30minutes. I did however, carry 2 bottles of EFS that I never ate because I wasn’t in the mood for it. Going forward I will only use this nutrition on the bike and stick with the chomps for running. I was also through the half in around 1:29:13. So, I still felt good and the HR was absolutely solid of around 139/140 which is far lower than marathons in the past.I had a 2nd bottle of gatorade at 2hrs At the end, my avg HR was only 138 whereas past marathons were typically in 148-152. Even Coober Pedy was at 151. This tells me that if I ran at that HR, I could easily go 2:50 – 2:55. The reason I wasn’t at that HR was because we have not done any tempo or intervals in this training so far; it’s all been base building and volume so far. We do run ANZAC hill on Thursdays but that only gets the HR up for 2 minutes.

At 35K I finally started to feel it in my legs. It became slightly heavy, uncomfortable but I was able to maintain based off of the strength training I had done for the last 3 months. The consistency in the splits were unbelievable though. Also unbelievable was the volunteers and support, the other runners who all waved and said positive remarks. At one point I did think about digging deep but would not allow myself to walk. This was my 24th marathon and only the 4th that I might have run non-stop, that was a good achievement as well.

The one funny story was when I passed the smouldering fire typical of Alice Bush. I thought of the internationals we had and laughed as I pictured them running to a volunteers saying to get the fire department, that there is a fire!

As I ran through the gap with 2KM to go, I remembered 1 year prior, hunched over, trying to catch my breath in the very same spot, thinking how much pain I was in, thinking how awful I was doing (to my own abilities). But this year, while I continued to run non-stop for all 42.2KM I thought that I was going to have a BQ, a (Boston Qualifying time). This is a massive accomplishment and why my B goal was a 3:05. See, in order to run the worlds oldest, most prestigious marathon in the world, you must qualify. I did that with my 3:08, breaking the 3:10 barrier back in 2009, but the BAA or Boston Athletic Association increased those; now I had to run sub 3:05 as a Male 18-34yrs old. Fiona, would have to break 3:35. I thought about entering and heading to Boston in 2016 to run. Over the next 2 days I would realize, that we’ll have plenty of time for that. But, I wanted to try again at the 32nd annual Alice Springs Sprint Triathlon Championship as well as the Tavis Johannsen Ultra.

As I crossed the line and saw 3:02 and change on the board, I was ecstatic. I felt strong all day long and was very consistent. My splits were (in miles): 7:01, 6:51, 6:50, 6:41, 6:45, 6:44, 6:48, 6:45, 6:50, 6:48, 6:46, 6:47, 6:47, 6:54, 6:49, 7:01, 7:05, 7:06, 7:04, 6:59, 7:01, 7:02, 7:06, 7:09, 7:09, 7:13, 6:33 (.33mile). The 2nd half was slightly slower due to the elevation climb and headwind.

I crossed the line, 2nd male, 3rd overall quickly followed by my wife in 3:09:07, who not only took off 1 hour on her PB, but also trained, well over 20 hours and is fed with a vegetarian/mostly vegan diet. We both received $300 Cash Prizes which after the Coober Pedy races are some serious paydays!

The one negative I have is that this course is absolutely 200meters longer. I knew of this issue from last year and cut the tangents as best I could running in the middle of the road for much of the race. But, it still turned out to be that long. A huge congratulations to Chris for Breaking 2:50 and Roxy for sub 3:00, I don’t totally care since I was in no-mans land 3:02. But this definitely needs to be fixed. But besides that one and only one negative, the race is brilliant. Why, I ask you why, spend $1,000 at the Outback Marathon at Ayres Rock, where you don’t run anywhere near there and are required to have a minimum package? The Sponsors, Committee, Supports, and Volunteers put together an incredible race with great singlets and visors that fit quite well. With an included lunch and being able to meet one of Australians greatest distance runners ever makes this event over the top.

I celebrated with a group of ASTC athletes Sunday night at the Golf Club, after a 3 hour bike ride of course. To my left, Fiona – 2nd female, 1hr PB, then was Hollie – First ever 10K run non-stop, there was Kate McIntyre – her first ever race and she went straight to the 1/2 marathon. There was Deb – 1st Female in the 10K Walk breaking 1 hour, Pete Treis – Complete Supporter to our club and its members, and Lynn – Pace Setter for our other friend Kate. We all celebrated each others accomplishments no matter how small or big. Because in this celebration size, really didn’t matter. It was about celebrating your own personal accomplishment.

In the end, what I will get most out of this marathon is a sense of confidence. With proof that I am in the shape I thought I was, I know that come December 6, 2015, I will be ready for something special. But first, I’ll have to run up Mt Sonder in the Larapinta Trail Ultra in 2 weeks, because I’m a superfreak and that is where i proposed to Fiona 2 years ago just one day shy.

The Alice Springs Running Festival had a short fun run, 10K walk/run, 1/2, and full marathons. If you weren’t there, you missed out. Now while Fiona and I are in final preparations for Ironman Japan at this time next year, I hope that you are celebrating your own success and your own personal accomplishments.

Happy Running

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