I ran the marathon distance for the first time in 2006 at the Melbourne Marathon. It then took me over 4 years before completing my next marathon. Then in the 3 years following my second marathon I completed road races covering the marathon distance or longer on 23 occasions. But it took me 8 years to run the Melbourne Marathon for a second time.
Back in 2006 the Melbourne Marathon followed a point-to-point route, starting 42 km south-east of Melbourne and following a fairly straight line into the city to finish just south of the city centre. Since then the route has changed to start in the sports district of Melbourne and to finish at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). The race has previously finished with a lap of the hallowed turf, but unfortunately this year would finish in the parkland just outside the ground.
I arrived at the start line in 2014 having not run further than 26 km since my previous race at the end of August, but I lined up alongside the 3-hour pace bus. When I found out that they intended to run a positive split by crossing halfway in 88:30 I decided that I would set off behind them, but expected to finish ahead.
In the early kilometres I struggled to settle into a rhythm, frequently checking my watch as I seemed to be running either too fast or too slow. It was only after looping around a section of the Melbourne Grand Prix track, and starting the descent towards the beach that I felt settled with my pace. I tend to find that I have a pretty good idea of how a marathon will unfold at around 17-18 km in, and it was at that point that I noted I was running ahead of 3-hour pace and felt comfortable that I would cross the line prior to that barrier with some time to spare. From that point on I rarely looked at my watch, and about 19 kilometres into the race I passed the 3-hour pace bus.