Monday, May 17, 2010

Post - SMH Half Marathon

I spent much of Saturday trying to rest, worrying about my knee and preparing for the race on Sunday. I had never done a "big" race before. I'd done races with anything from eight up to a few hundred people in them, but this was going to be thousands!
I had a BIG pasta and chicken dinner that evening, loads of carbs and protein and a good bit of water, but not too much. I put my bib number on my racing singlet and packed a bag with bits like gels, protein bars, water, sports drinks etc. having never done anything like this distance before, I had no idea just how I would feel after.
The race was going to start at 07:30, so I wanted to be there early. I needed to eat breakfast and give it time to settle, so I reckoned 05:00 would be right. In the end, I woke up just after 04:00 and couldn't get back to sleep, so at about 04:45 I got up anyway!
I had breakfast and as it was still dark and cold, I changed out of my singlet and into a full running t-shirt and set off in the car. I was driving along Oxford Street at about 05:30 and could see partygoers still hanging around outside bars and drinking. A bit surreal! Anyway, I got to the carpark just as it opened at 06:00 and got my stuff organized and walked a few hundred meters to Hyde Park. I met up with a few friends and chatted away as the sun came up.
There were over 10,000 registered for the race, but "only" 8,700 or thereabouts competed. Once the gun went off it took about five mins before I passed through the start line and I started off the clock on my Garmin...
I had on my fuel belt, that holds a water bottle and a pouch with space for two gel packs. I also had a couple of gel packs in the zip pocket of my running shorts - a bit of overkill! I got overtaken quite a bit, but then again I overtook a good few too. Some people started walking from the 3k mark, but not me. I was battling against myself today! As a friend recently said, I am my own Drill Sargent! I found the first 4k pretty good, not tough, not easy. I tend to find that the first few Ks I'm just settling into my stride really. The first drink station was at about 4.5k, so I walked over to it, got two cups of Gatorade, gulped them down and started running again. I did the same at all except the very last drink station, where I just ran past it.
The dreaded Hunter Street hill was tough, but not as bad as I had thought, even second time around. At the end of the first lap we were passing a sign that pointed the finishers to the left. I was hugely tempted to bow out at that stage and just take a rest, to stop running for the day...but I kept going. As Lance Armstrong would say (paraphrasing), "Pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever". I can live with pain for an hour or more during the race, I would never forgive myself for quitting.
I found the second lap a bit easier, as I knew what was coming. So where there was a hill I knew that the terrain just past it was pretty good, so I could keep going. Having said that, I certainly did the second lap slower. I found that towards the end of the second lap I would check my Garmin and tell anyone who wanted to listen "Only 4k left", or whatever the distance was. I think I was also pumping myself really. Just after the last drink station, with less than 1k to go, I put on a sprint...and then realized I was going uphill, so backed it back down again! I was hoping to sprint to the finish, but there were too many people in a narrow lane, so I just kept the pace, which was a bit faster than I had been at anyway. My time (on the Garmin), was 2:08, which I think is pretty respectible, seeing as I had never run more than 8.5k before!
Pic of JayDub (on the left) and myself in the recovery area.


Pic (L to R) of: Andrew, me, JayDub, Salena (my cousin), Jo R and my son in the front.

Eoin

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