I had arrived. One day before my race, I landed in Melbourne.
It was time for the best part of my training: mandatory carb loading. Since I was staying in Footscray I was also pleasantly surprised to discover the streets were a thriving hub of African communities. I soon found myself gorging at a Ethiopian buffet and relishing the divine aroma of traditional Ethiopian coffee. Even though I was supposed to avoid too much caffeine so I could sleep later at night, I really couldn’t help myself as I poured one cup after another. I even bought extra servings of Injera bread to take back home for additional carb loading. I chatted with cafe owner who told me how his brother was also doing the marathon and how Ethiopia was home to the most legendary runners in the world.
Later that day, I also struck up a conversation with a lady in Federation Square who had been a veteran of three marathons. She offered me some sagely advice: the race doesn’t start until kilometer thirty. This juncture is when the real test of all my training will begin. The mistake many people make is to use up all your energy by going hard too early, because it only going to be much harder later, she warned. I thanked her for the much needed wisdom for my upcoming challenge.
At dinner I diligently scoffed down extra servings of rice with my meal. Despite all my efforts for an early night, I didn’t get to bed until 10.30pm.
Waking up at 5am the next morning, I ready to go. Before the trip I had spent time meticulously preparing my pre-race drink, carrying it all the way from Sydney. In my mad rush to get out of the house, as I was forcing down toast with one hand and bananas in the other, I had inadvertently forgotten my drink on the kitchen bench, already prepared but sadly undrunk. There was not much I could do as I couldn’t be late for the first train.
With the race starting at 7am, the earliest train available didn’t arrive at Flinders Street station until 6.17am. After 20 minute walk just to get to the Melbourne Cricket Ground, where the race was held, I had to find my way through confusing and long snaking lines to drop off my bag. When someone yelled out that the race was about to begin, I literally ran out of the bag drop area and raced down (yes a pun) another half kilometer to get the start-line. The gun had just gone off. Melbournians had started running. There was no time for that last minute bathroom break.
The race had begun!