Robert Song's Running

I'm over 50 and been running off and on since 1968. I have run everything from 800m to 10k on the track, to half marathons (PB 1:21 Brisbane 1993) and marathons (PB 2:53 Gold Coast 1985).

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Brisbane Marathon

Brisbane Marathon 3:32:15 (Official Chip Time).

I guess most readers of this blog would know of my circumstances leading up to this race. The 2009 Brisbane Marathon was my target race for the year and after a 1:26 Half at the Gold Coast in July, I was feeling confident of being able to do a 3:05 and maybe a little better if all went my way on the day. On the 6th August 2009, I was diagnosed with DLBCL (Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma) which meant I was unable to compete in that race. Abdominal surgery for a biopsy, twelve weeks of intense chemotherapy and a stem cell harvest over the next six months left my body a shadow of itself.

But I made a vow even before my chemo started that if it was in anyway possible that I would do another marathon. I guess at that stage I was still feeling very disappointed that I had not been able to cash in on all the fitness I had banked that year. But that goal certainly helped me over the ensuing months as each round of chemo compounded the effect it had on my body. It may have been successfully killing all the cancer cells but there was a lot of collateral damage occurring at the same time.

With the odds of the first round of my treatment being successful being only around 40%, I also knew that I possibly could only have a small window of opportunity in which to achieve my marathon goal. I am usually fairly conservative in my approach to training but in this campaign I have really pushed myself. In  the early months, when I had a low red blood cell count and all my mitochondria had been destroyed by the toxic sludge that was my "cure", every run no matter how slow I went was a challenge.

But it slowly got easier and I just kept building up the miles til I got to the point where I found myself at the starting line this morning. I had been wrestling over various strategies for today's race. I was convinced my legs would give out towards the end. I just had not done enough 30K plus to give me the confidence that anything other than that would be the case.  I thought I could comfortably run 32k at 5:00 pace. I even thought it could be possible to do 4:50 pace up til then as well but would that just make the last 10k even worse. In the end, I thought I should pay the marathon distance due respect and take the conservative approach and look at doing 5:00 pace for as long as I could. With a small fade 3:35 should be achievable and if things got really ugly then 3:40 could still be possible.

Toasty was doing the 3:30 pacing and just before the start he suggested I join his bus. Whilst it may have been tempting to go with him I stuck with just a little slower than that. The first K was in fact a lot slower than that and at 5:21 it was a nice gentle start.  The next few Ks were hard to judge the pace as we went over the Goodwill Bridge and through some undulating paths in the Gardens and back over the Good Will Bridge. But once on the flat south side of the river I was able to get into a groove and started knocking out a steady pace just under 5:00 pace. And I just locked into that.

It wasn't until the 37th kilometer that it started to get tough enough to slow me down. Through Southbank and all along Riverside Drive I had been expecting a bear to drop down on to my back from the overhanging trees but in the end it was a bit of a headwind, an increasing temperature and the hill up to the Boat club at Orliegh Park that forced me to put in a 5:14 K. But turning round and going back downhill with the breeze behind me allowed me to get back on pace for a few k.  But by 40k I was starting to feel the tiredness in my legs but still only slowed to 5:11 pace for those final Ks.

I am really really pleased with how I ran this race. Even though there was no Half way marker (that I saw) I estimate from my splits that I came very close to doing even splits for this race. Got to be happy with that.

Here are my 5k splits
 5k  25:29

10k 24:51
15k 25:04
20k 25:05
25k 24:58
30k 24:52
35k 24:58
40k 25:31
42.2k 11:26

And of course I am ecstatic about just doing it. And that is a huge understatement.

This was the first time I have run a marathon in Brisbane. It was kind of odd sleeping in your own bed the night before and getting ready at home on the morning. I found the course to be excellent. The race was really well organised. The officials, marshalls and water stations were all fantastic. It deserves more people in the Marathon.

I have my next three month scan on Friday. I wonder what my doctor will say? He thinks joggers (his term) are crazy.

Shine on all us crazy diamonds.


  • At Mon. Aug. 02, 12:07:00 pm AEST, Blogger allrounder said…

    fantastic result...enjoy your recovery!

  • At Mon. Aug. 02, 03:45:00 pm AEST, Blogger Joel said…

    An inspirational story. All the best for your upcoming scan. It was a pleasure to run with you for a few km in the marathon before I couldn't hold you any longer.

  • At Mon. Aug. 02, 08:58:00 pm AEST, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi there
    That is an amazing story, I loved reading it. Well done on a fantastic result and wish you all the best for your next doc visit.

    New Runner.

  • At Mon. Aug. 02, 09:30:00 pm AEST, Blogger TA and the Gnome said…

    Getting to the start is often harder than getting to the finish. Congrats on getting to both! :-) Knowing what chemo does, that's a really classy time.


  • At Tue. Aug. 03, 01:43:00 pm AEST, Blogger Scott Brown said…

    Robert Song

    Great the way you put that race into context. Even for us that know how hard it is to train for and successfully get a time you aim for it is very inspirational! And for those that really don't understand, like your doctor friend,it would indeed sound crazy! The Doc is probably going to check your cell count but this time it will be your brain cell count ;)

    What's next for you?

  • At Tue. Aug. 03, 07:19:00 pm AEST, Blogger Ewen said…

    I have even fewer brain cells than Scott Brown, but that doesn't prevent me from realising the magnificence of your achievement. Great result and a beautifully executed race Graham - well done, and shine on!

  • At Wed. Aug. 04, 11:45:00 am AEST, Blogger Bay said…

    Truly magnificent! I can't impart how inspiring I find it that you have come back so far, and how happy I am for you Graham!


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