I went into this race with a lot of writing on my hand. I had three average paces and what finish time they would give me:
6:58 pace –> 2 hours 27 minutes (pipe dream, over the moon goal)
7:04 pace –> 2 hours 29 minutes (realistic goal based on training)
7:18 pace –> 2 hours 34 minutes (would still be a PB)
I met with my coach the night before the race (she lives in Port Macquarie) and we discussed my plan to “just go with it” if I was a bit faster than 7:02 for the first few kilometres. I often start a race fast (zig-zagging around other competitors) then settle into my normal slower pace. I didn’t plan to do this if I was insanely fast (sub 6:30) because I know I can’t sustain that for long but I thought 6:45-6:55 would be okay. She didn’t like my plan and assured me that even if I felt okay at the beginning, I would pay for it at about 19km.
So, I also scribbled 7:02 15km – 7:15 on my hand. She had calculated that I could run at 7:02 pace for the first 15km then drop back to 7:15 for the final 6.1km and I would meet my 2:30 goal. I would have needed to be at 5km at 35.11, 10km at 1:10, 15km at 1:45 and 20km at 2:22. This was all scribbled on the back on my hand.
15 hours later
The race started and I was very quickly at the back of the pack. I had people behind me but I didn’t think there were many. No zig-zagging required because there was a lot of space. No sprinting to get around people. I settled into my “comfortable pace” pretty much straight away. It was too fast though. I was averaging around 6:43. I have always struggled to run at a target pace. I seem to have run or walk settings. Sometimes the run is fast, other times not. Today happened to be a fast day.
This was a good race for spectators – I ran past my support crew and chauffeur
(AKA hubby) 6 times. This was at about 6km I think.
I made it to the 5km mark early at 33.33. I kept waiting for my body to reject the fast speed. This was the pace I had been training at back in August/September before I got sick but I haven’t been able to run longer distances as quickly since then. At 10km I was still ahead of schedule (1:07.11) and at 15km I was 4 minutes ahead of schedule (1:40.52) with an average pace of 6:44 still. The wheels did start to fall off a bit then. I walked some water stations. It was getting tough but I finally found my “race” mentality and thought, what if I can finish this with a 6:45 average pace? I couldn’t calculate what my finish time would be but I knew it would be under 2:27 from my pipe dream notes. (I’m sure there was a bit of determination not to give any opportunity for my coach to say “I told you so” as well.)
The 20th kilometre was my only one which dropped below 7:00 pace. I had one kilometre that was 6:28 but all the others were between 6:34 and 6:58 so I’m quite happy (#understatementoftheyear) with my consistency. I pulled out a 6:49 for the final kilometre and finished in 2:23.27! A huge PB. 12 minutes faster than my training run two weeks ago and 15 minutes quicker than my last half marathon race.
The time on the clock behind me was for the 10km event which started before I finished. Some people completed the “Treble Breakwall Buster”. They ran the half marathon in under 2 hours, then backed up for a 10km in under 1 hour and finished off with a 5km. There was no cutoff time for the 5km.
I didn’t finish last, but even if I had, I still would have been incredibly happy with my finish time.
Nice bling and a well-organised event.