I was undecided as to whether I'd do this race - I've still been feeling fatigued and very slow and I was close to throwing in the towel and not heading down the Canberra for the weekend. However, I took a last minute email containing reasonably priced accommodation as a sign to toughen up and get my butt down to the capital.
This was going to be a test of my current fitness - to see just how much glandular fever (and lack of training caused by it) has taken a toll. I'll be honest with you, I was fearing complete disaster. My training runs have been so slow (lovely Greta Garmin confirms just how slow - there's no escaping it) and I felt there was a very real chance that I would run very, very badly.
In the end I decided to drive down and roll with the punches. The drive's an easy one and I like Canberra at this time of year anyway so I could go to some of my favourite old haunts and it wouldn't be a complete loss.
I worked late on Friday night trying to finish an article and woke up on Saturday morning feeling tired and yuck. Bummer. Mooched around home for a bit then decided to head out for a run. Did 8.82km at an average pace of 4:46 min/km. Yes, that's right. 4:46 min/km. Uh-oh.
Got to Canberra about 5pm and went straight to my hotel before walking to the Canberra Centre to pick up a few supplies for the evening. I'd started reading The Hunger Games the night before and I figured this was an opportunity to relax and finish it (I did - it's... interesting. Actually, I was surprised at how gripping it was. I didn't want to put it down and I'm now planning on buying the second and third book in the series. I also found it to be a very ominous comment on reality television).
But I digress.
The race was scheduled to start at 7.30am, so I set the alarm for 4:45am. Slept OK.
Alarm. Up. Breakfast. Shower. Dress.
Decide not to wear Greta because I didn't want her beeping at me to remind me just how slowly I was going. Strapped on the blue Target cheapie instead (Note to self: I must get around to finding a new watch to race in).
The morning was quite chilly and it was still dark when I arrived at the race start.
Headed out for a jog to warm up and was happy to feel alright about being there. I needed to do this because I wanted a true indication of where things were at. This was going to help me decide if I was going to race the Canberra Marathon next month so, even if it all went to hell, at least it would be serving some sort of purpose.
The race began without fuss or fanfare. One second I was standing there examining other people's shoes, the next second someone shouted 'Go!' and we were off. Low key - I liked it.
First kilometre - 3:44 minutes. Surprised. First female.
Second kilometre - 3:50 minutes. Surprised again. First female.
Third kilometre - Noisy breathing started. Oh dear. First female.
I lost track of my kilometre splits after that, but I was running sub-4-minute ks. I was also feeling like shit. At the seven kilometre mark I felt so bad that I took my gel - I couldn't think of anything else to do so I thought I may as well give it a shot. Nothing.
By this stage I had a shadow - another female running right on my back. 'Hello there honey. I'm feeling crap - how about you?'
By 10k I had definitely slowed and we went through in just under 40 minutes. I got a second wind after the turnaround point (maybe because I knew it was half over) and felt a little better, but it didn't last long. Dammit.
By about 12/13k my shadow had made a few struggle noises, so I decided to give it one shot to try and break the band between us. I didn't increase my cadence but increased my stride to try and get enough distance between us that she'd give up the chase. I got ahead a little bit, but it wasn't enough and with six kilometres to go she passed me.
By this stage I had a piano on my back and there was no chase left in the legs. Dammit again.
So what does this mean for my Canberra Marathon plans? Well, lets just say that Sunday's race was a mirror of the first half of the Melbourne Marathon last year. The trouble being that in Melbourne I continued on to run a 2:54:54, whereas on Sunday I was in no shape to run another 21k.
I am going to give it one more week and see how things go at next weekend's SMC race. I am not feeling overly positive, but I love the Canberra Marathon and I don't want to pull out unless I feel I have given myself every opportunity to prove myself ready. My bib arrived last week and I have a name not a number, which gives me a bit of a buzz. However, no amount of 'buzz' is going to help if the body's not ready to race.