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My first marathon

A first time marathon experience with Daniel Manning

This account is from Dan’s first marathon in Melbourne, 2016 when he was 18. There are timeless lessons for everyone, especially as a first time marathoner.  Enjoy!

“One of the most memorable things of my marathon was the amount of food I had to eat in preparation.”

I don’t know what convinced me to do the marathon and I’m still not sure if that was a good decision or not. 

At least I can get up and down steps now.

One of the most memorable things of my marathon was the amount of food I had to eat in preparation… 

Packets of cheese and bacon rolls, buckets of rice pudding, plain rice, Weet-Bix, bread rolls, and of course, chocolate cake. 

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I had no idea what to expect

I had no idea what time to expect for the race. Dad  (Steve) said I could do 3 hours easily but I gave myself a range from 3:00 to 3:15. That was until I found out John Egan was planning to do 3 hours. Unfortunately he was unable to run but I still had the goal of being able to beat Mum (Margot).

I didn’t know what to think while lining up at the race. “Had I eaten enough bread rolls the day before?” It was too late now anyway, so I was ready to accept whatever happened today. 

Mum, Solly Litchfield and I were right up the front and we met some grey-haired runners who had finished all 37 Melbourne marathons.

I had already made up my mind that no matter what happened in the race I had to try and beat those guys.

It wasn’t long before the gun went and I set off at a conservative 4:25 pace. There was a bit of weaving as people settled into their paces. I stuck around Mum and Solly for the first 2km. Then the Weet-Bix set in dropping the pace to 4:10 while running down St Kilda road.

Enjoying the race early

Soon we came to a lake and I kept looking across to see if the leaders were visible. This part of the race was quite enjoyable as there were lots of people around while not being too crowded. There were many people on bikes supporting runners. I was tempted to ask one for a lift but I figured he would probably say no. I also didn’t feel the need to take any water during this part of the race which would prove to be a rookie mistake later on.

The 10km marker flew past and the course doubled back on itself before leaving the park back onto St Kilda Rd. Feeling good I cheered on the Intraining runners. I missed Emily Donker because she was too far ahead but cheered on Solly, Gerard Daly, and Mum who I was still worried about.

As we exited heading back onto St Kilda road the rice pudding started to wear off and my pace wasn’t so much of a float anymore but it was still going well.

I missed the water stop!

The course turned onto the Melbourne waterfront. This was an out and back section and I got to see the leaders for the first time. I began to catch up the 3 hour pacer. There were still a lot of people around him. So many in fact that I wasn’t able to see a water stop until it was too late. I managed to get past the pack but I began to dehydrate. The turnaround pounced upon me and I still had the energy to stick my arms out and pretend to be an aeroplane as I went around it.

The turnaround broke my pace though, making me realise I had finally burned through those cheese and bacon rolls. So I took my first and only gel for the race while coming up to the next water stop. It was chocolate flavoured of course. During this part of the course, I was able to cheer on a bunch more Intraining runners. Emily, Mum, Solly, Gerard, Naomi x 2, Laura and so many more who all looked like they were going strong.

Halfway…only 4 more parkruns to go

I passed the halfway point just under 1:30. Only 4 more park runs to go. There were lots of people cheering near St Kilda road before the course went out to the second turnaround. An ice cream shop on the side of the road looked very tempting, but with no money I had to push on. The turnaround approached and I did the aeroplane again. Heading back I cheered on Mum Gerard and Solly again. I started to feel the beginnings of a headache but I began to take water and electrolyte at each water stop which made it go away. I talked to a nice runner in red and I stuck with him until we got onto St Kilda road. The 30km mark arrived on a nice uphill. I had been told that the race doesn’t start until 32km so I began to mentally prepare myself for the battle.

The last of my Breadrolls

The botanic gardens were coming up, the hilliest part of the race. A new friend and I pushed each other up and over the hills. It was in there that I used up all of the bread rolls and my pace began to drop. But we were coming up into the city with less than a park run to the finish. With 1.5km to go the 3 hour pacer caught me. So I used the only thing I had left in the tank, chocolate cake. I dropped the pace, completing the next kilometer in 3:47. Then with only 200m meters to go I entered the MCG and sprinted to the finish. Yes, I managed to sprint the final 200m of the race. I have proof you can check Strava.

I was very happy with my time 2:59:15. It’s a shame John Egan wasn’t there, it would have been close.

Finishing the race was amazing

Finishing the race was amazing. All the bottled pain in my legs was released at once making it hard to walk. Then they made us walk down a big ramp before we could get water, which is one of the most painful experiences of my life. I wasn’t feeling so great so mum and I went home after cheering in some more Intraining runners. I slept for 3 hours.

One of the best events of that day was meeting all of the Intraining runners for dinner that night. There were so many great stories and congratulations to all who came down.

Here’s proof I did it!  

Strava with course map.


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