Marathon Date: September 11, 2005
My Age: 69
My Finish Time: 4:50
My Marathon Rating: The fewest fans along the race route
Memorable Moment: Finishing the marathon at the Sydney Opera House
Lessons Learned: 1. Spend time reviewing the race route for areas that could be problems- such as a series of steep hills at the last 3 miles of the race.
Marathon selection and registration:
I selected the September 11, 2005 Sydney Australia marathon as my 7th worldwide marathon and my 3rd continent because I had been to Sydney before and thoroughly enjoyed my stay in the very diverse city. There would also be a number of other races that would be run the same day of the marathon and they are the Half Marathon, Bridge Run, and Family Fun Run [3.8km]. I registered on-line on May 5, 2005, the registration cost was $128.67, and I was given my race # 111.
Marathon Training Program:
I used an 18-week 750-mile training program with 1 day/week of riding my Bike – I was very fortunate that I did not have any serious injuries during or after the training program. I ran 2 half marathons to prepare myself for the Sydney marathon. The results of my half marathons and my 18-week training program made me feel that I would have a successful marathon.
01/16/05 Carlsbad ½ marathon 1:49 * 2nd in my age group
02/13/05 San Dieguto ½ marathon 1:54 * 5th in my age group
I departed for Sydney on American Airlines from Los Angeles Airport on 9/6/05 – I had an aisle seat and an empty seat next to me so I had a comfortable flight to Sydney. I arrived in Sydney on 9/8/05 at 6:00 am – the total flight time was 14 hours. When I had gone through customs I was stopped by one of the bomb-smelling dogs – I had forgotten that I had a carrot in my bag and the dog smelled the food – they made me destroy the carrot.
I took a shuttle bus to my hotel the Four Points Sheraton – when I arrived they upgraded me to a much better room on the preferred guest floor .The hotel was an excellent hotel located on the famous Darling Harbor. After unpacking and putting my clothes and gear away I showered and dressed to go out to eat. I ate at Casa Di Nico on Darling Harbor – had Spaghetti with Garlic Bread. Went back to the hotel – I was very tired from the long flight and I went to bed at 7:00 pm. I woke up at 3:00am and could not go back to sleep so I watched TV for the hour before I went back to sleep.
Woke up the next morning [9/9] at 7:00am showered and went to breakfast in the hotel restaurant – had a light breakfast of Oatmeal, Orange Juice and Toast. My hotel was in walking distance to Darling Harbor, Hyde Park and Martin Place so I spent the rest of the day walking around the area around the hotel. As I had been to Sydney before I knew most of the areas of interest.
The racecourse starts at Bradfield Park, Milsons Point that is just below the Sydney Harbor Bridge. The start was a challenging hill that takes you to the entrance to the Sydney Harbor Bridge and across the bridge. The first half of the race takes you through some very nice sections of Sydney – passed Dawes Point, Millers Point, the Rocks, Moore Park, and the beautiful Centennial Park. The second half of the race takes you outside the city where the course loops back into the city. The finish area is the Sydney Opera House with a recovery area in the Royal Botanic Gardens where bag collection, food, and Post race activities will take place.
I picked up my race number and chip and was told that there would only be 1,600 people running the marathon this year and was given the directions to get to the start of the marathon from my hotel. While there, I met the marathon race manager a really nice guy who was managing the race with his son. I stopped on the way back to the hotel to get something to eat and took a leisurely walk back to the hotel after eating.
The next morning [9/10] I received a phone call from the race manager letting me know that he will let me ride to the start of the marathon with the Elite runners on the boat from the Four Points Sheraton to the start of the marathon at the base of the World Famous Sydney Harbor Bridge. He also informed me that I could stay in the Elite Runners Tent until the start of the race and that a local TV Station would be interviewing me prior to the start of the race. While I was in the Lobby of the hotel I found out that all of the Elite runners were staying in my hotel – I met one of the Elite runners who was from Australia – his best marathon finish time was 2:10. I went out that evening for my pre-race Past dinner at a restaurant in Hyde Park that was recommended to me by the race manager. I went to bed around 9:00 pm and woke up at 4:30 am and prepared my gear for the marathon – went down to the restaurant and had a light breakfast of 2 slices of toast and a cup of coffee. Met one of the Elite runners in the lobby waiting to take the water taxi to the start of the race.
When we arrived at the harbor Bridge we were shown to the Elite runners tent, there were 5 Elite runners, and ME. About a ½ hour after arriving the TV announcer called me out of the tent and interviewed me for about 10 minutes. The race started on time, at the base of the Sydney Harbor Bridge, and when the gun went off the Elite runners were off and running, it took about 5 minutes before I crossed the start line. It was cold with a light rain falling as I ran up the rather challenging hill at the start when I finally reached the top I was running over the Sydney Harbor Bridge. The view of the city and the harbor was really breathtaking as we ran over the full length of the Bridge and then continued on inside city limits for the first 3 miles.
A very funny thing happened at mile 4 of the race – as I approached mile 4 I saw a Japanese runner who was stopped in the middle of the road and smiling at the side of the road – when I looked he had set his camera to take a picture of himself. Once the camera snapped he ran over and picked up the camera gave me a slight bow and then he started running. I ran into him 3 more times during the marathon and each time he was smiling at the camera he had setup along the side of the road and after he had taken the picture he again gave me a slight bow and continued running.
For the first half of the marathon I ran through some very nice areas with beautiful homes, Moore Park, and Centennial Park where we did a long loop around the park – really beautiful park. At mile 13 [half way point] my time was 2:11 which if I kept up the pace my marathon finish time would be 4:22. The weather for the first half of the race was cool and we ran through a lot of shaded areas, which was excellent running conditions. The second half of the marathon was a definite challenge for me as the weather turned very hot and muggy and there were virtually no shaded areas along the route.
The second half route took me outside the city and into Industrial areas with some pretty bad roads. At one point I had to wait for someone to open a metal gate so we could go through and run through the area and back onto the course. I was also running on a cement highway with a lot of rather steep Ramps for most of the second half of the marathon. When I finally entered the city for the last 5 miles I had to stop and wait for a police officer to stop traffic so that the runners could cross the street. This occurred 2 more times and having to wait to cross the street 3 times added 6 minutes to my finish time. The last 3 miles were a nightmare – first came a long winding hill we had to climb and once we got to the top there was another winding hill, which led to another winding hill.
There were a lot of unhappy runners once we got through the last hill as our next obstacle was to cross over a long cement bridge to finally get to the road that led to the finish line at the Sydney Opera House. It seemed to take forever to finally reach a point where I could see the finish line. I crossed the finish line in a time of 4:49 – the last 5 miles of stopping to cross streets, and the 3 long winding hills added at least 15 minutes to my time. After crossing the finish line there was no water or food for the runners and my clothes that were supposed to be at the finish line were not there. I was told by one of the volunteers that the clothes were at the Royal Botanical Gardens Recovery area. To get to the Recovery area – “you guessed it” – I had to climb a long winding hill after running 26.2 miles. Once I got to the recovery area there was no food or water and when I went looking for my clothes they were nowhere to be found. I was able to get some water and a chocolate cupcake from a nurse who was in the Medical tent. Fortunately I brought money with me for a taxi ride back to the hotel and enough money to buy a sandwich at a store near the Recovery area.