Impressions of the marathon from MAC’s Liza Schembri

Posted by Mellieha AC 25th February 2014 0 Comment 1878 views

The Mellieha AC Ladies impressed, both on the marathon and the half-marathon event.

On the distance that was allowed for women in the Olympics for the first time only since 1984 due to being deemed too taxing on a woman’s health, the team of Mellieha AC placed second.

Liza Schembri was one of the thirteen Maltese ladies to face the distance, and part of the winning team, conquering the whole distance in 3:40:40


Liza, I understand this is your sixth marathon, and this is your best one to date.  It seems you are learning from every marathon done.  Looking back to your first marathon, what has been the main difference in your preparation and the execution of the marathon itself?

Yes the sixth and the best, time wise. I started with a 3:57 marathon time and have now got it down to 3:40.  The main difference is definitely following Has Kesra’s programme to perfection. I do not change anything in the programme and trust the programme blindly. I have full faith in the way the programme is meant to work and the way we run according to our heart rate zones. Also, I like following the pace Has Kesra gives me just before the marathon. Running a marathon with no target pace makes no sense. I have done it and felt like a headless chicken [and probably looked like one!!].


 I hear you are very consistent one kilometre after another, and you stick to your pace sacredly.  Still, I believe you are a perfectionist.  By the time you woke up on Monday, was there one thing you hoped you’ve done differently?

I wish I didn’t change my Garmin setting half an hour before the start of the race. I usually work just with my average pace in races, but I decided that I should have both average pace and actual pace showing. The actual pace window was not a good idea. The fluctuations that showed when I turned corners or was fighting against the wind affected me negatively mentally.  Another thing was the strong wind. The weather is something we cannot control, but the Ta’ Qali area was so windy that I had to use a lot of my energy to run through it. That meant that after the 25th km I had to keep mentally positive to fight off the tiredness. It was tough but the mind is stronger than we think.


I was lucky enough to be at the starting line for the first time this year to cheer our club mates.  You looked excited.  How scary are 42 kilometres before the first step?

I am always excited before a marathon. It’s hard not to be. The thought of 42kms is always scary.  Whoever has run a marathon can confirm this. The distance is long and anything can go wrong. There are points along the way, mainly after the 30km mark, when the body wants to shut down. The mind starts playing games and all sorts of thoughts start coming through your head. The hardest part is actually eliminating the thoughts out of your brain and convincing yourself, come what may, that you will see the finish line in the least possible time.


I understand that marathons are quite addictive.  However, I remember you were going through a time where you were injured.  At that time, did the marathon feel impossible for you?

Long distance running in general is addictive. I would rather run 30km at my comfortable pace than take part in a 10km race!! I just love the feeling a long run gives me…I get lost in my thoughts and then reorganise them and go home feeling refreshed and ready to tackle anything. Unfortunately, I got a shin injury mid December and could not follow the programme till mid-January. Throughout this time, I felt that I could not finish the marathon with a better time than the previous year. I messaged Has to tell him, with 2 minutes he called and the what happened next is obvious!!


You are also for the second time running part of a team that won an award in the marathon.  How much is Mellieha AC part of your success?

Entirely my success. Starting from Has Kesra, who is great in every way. He not only gives us the programme, but follows every training session I do, even whether it is a slow 60 minute run. Every session is important for him, even if it was a bad one for me. I can never thank him enough. Plus I am the type of person who prefers following programmes. I know what is on my list the week, and come what may, I will do each and every session. Apart from Has, there are all the other runners who are always there cheering each other on. Each race shows this evidently. Everyone is happy for each other and upset when something doesn’t work out too.


Finally, that moment you crossed the finishing line.  You had just conquered 42 kilometres and done a pb by over 2 minutes.  It must have been a rollercoaster of emotions, right?

The last 3km were extremely hard and I felt so happy when I saw my time [as I do not keep the time on my Garmin!]. First thing I did was hug Has!! He is always at the finishing line smiling! After that I met the others and my family. The emotions are there because it’s over and because of the immense happiness that I have bettered my time! It keeps me smiling for very long after!!


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