Two weeks ago, on the 25th of October, I ran the fifth marathon of the series, this time in Batemans Bay, in the south coast of NSW. It was a first in many aspects: the first flat course, the first official marathon race, and the first that I didn’t run in the bright orange Can Too colour. Being my October race, I decided to support the Pink Ribbon cause and run all in pink in honour of all women that have been affected by breast cancer. The Batemans Bay Marathon was also officially raising money for Ovarian Cancer Australia, which made me extra happy for my choice of race.
Saturday: “race preparation”
We rented a house near Surf Beach for the weekend and went there with some friends. Marcele and Clara (my wife and daughter) and also Marconi and Patrícia were registered for the 6km race. Luiz and Nina were the only ones out: Nina for being only 2 years old, and Luiz because Nina can’t take care of herself 😉 .
With the whole “all pink” theme, the fun started before the race with the preparation of my outfit. I bought pink socks and shorts, had a bright pink shirt from “Outubro Rosa Niterói” (Niterói Pink October) that my brother gave me, and stained my running shoes pink with one of those coloured hair sprays. But the icing on the cake (and the moment that everyone in the house was waiting for) was the pink hair. While the others were gathered around the dining table waiting for the pasta to be cooked, Clara was in charge of dyeing my hair. Ah, on top of that there was some nail painting as well… she was so excited! Here is the result:
Sunday: race day
I woke up in the morning, got ready for the race, and then drove to the starting line. The others decided to sleep a bit more since their race would start only two hours after mine and their race preparation was also slightly different: while I had pasta for dinner on Saturday, they had pasta AND quite a few glasses of red wine.
I got there early and in the line to drop my keys I saw Sarah Fien, an awesome athlete that has recently won the Canberra 102 km race (the same one that I ran 49km as my fourth marathon). I did some swimming training with her a few years ago and decided to talk to her: “Hi Sarah, I don’t think you remember me but…”, and she replied “No, definitely not with this pink hair”. It was the first of many moments during the race when my hair and/or outfit would be the topic of the conversation. I didn’t mind, in fact, that was the whole point of it: raise awareness and promote the fundraising for cancer research.
The race started and I was determined to put my race plan to work: I wanted to run at a comfortable 5 min/km and increase the pace only if I felt really well further down the track. I managed to keep my fresh legs under control and was close to my target pace, only slightly faster: 4:56, 4:48, 4:48 and 4:50 min/km in the first 4 km. It was only when I reached the end of the bridge over Clyde River that I sped up a little due to the gentle downhill.
A couple of km after the bridge and I hit what I thought was the only boring part of the course: running up and down following the zigzag course in the school oval. If that was the price to be able to run on the sandy beach in the photo below, then I’d do the grassy oval run again. Wait! I actually did, four times!
And it was exactly at the beach that I increased my pace again. Wasn’t intentional but I was just feeling good and happy to be running: 4:41, 4:40, 4:36, 4:38 min/km were my paces from the 10th to the 13th kilometers. I slowed down again after leaving the oval on the way back, but that was expected given the two small climbs (if we could call them that) on the way. The 5 km from the bridge to the end of the the first lap were the fastest in the whole race: all under 4:40 with the 18th km at 4:30 min/km. This was the part where we ran through town and I attribute my fast kilometers to the amazing support from all the volunteers, spectators, and fellow runners along the way. I heard a lot of “I love your hair!”, “Nice outfit”, “Go pink!”, but the best was a couple of girls that sang a song from Pink when we crossed our ways. I couldn’t stop laughing. At the turn around point I saw Laura, a friend that I coached earlier this year in one of the Can Too programs. She was there for the 14k race and ran with me for a few hundred meters to give support. It was nice to see a familiar face and have a chat halfway through the race. Thanks Laura!
But of course there is a limit to what support and mental strength can do and I ended up slowing down considerably in the second half. After km 27 I couldn’t run in under 5 min/km but I didn’t really crash. My slowest km was at 5:34 and I finished in 3:20:34, just a minute over my personal best. I was surprised by that and checked the data from my Garmin: the total distance was just under 41km. The same distance came from the watches of different competitors, and it seems that the course was indeed a bit shorter than the 42.195 for the marathon. Even taking that into account, my time would still be around a respectable 3:27.
The 6km race: friends and family
While I was in my second lap, the 6km race started. I wished I were there to see Marcele, Clara, Marconi and Paty in action. It was Clara’s first ever race and I was a very, very proud dad for her effort. She ran the first half without stopping and finished in 48:50. There she is coming to cross the finish line:
And a very proud husband as well, as Marcele left the others behind to finish in 42:55. There she is, cruising to cross the finish line.
Marconi and Paty were not that far from Clara and finished in 49:40. It was really great to have all of you supporting me and a great cause.
In the package it said: “lasts up to 8 washes”. Well, I have swum at the beach, swum in the pool, sweated over training sessions, been through a hair cut, and washed my hair at least three times as much as the promised 8 washes. However, as I write this post, I still have pink hair. It went from the bright pink to a somewhat purple tone and now is turning more into a “baby pink” as my white hair start to show again. Will I still have pink hair in marathon number 6? It is just one week away!