And so, we have a post today instead.
|Finish line from afar (courtesy of Mr Bite)|
I first mentioned this half marathon when I did my post on 2013 goals. In 2012, I'd hedged my bets, setting a goal of doing a half marathon (21.1km) or a shorter distance. Coming out of injuries in early 2012, I went for the shorter distance, a 14km fun run. This year, there was no hedging! I signed up for this race way back in November last year, giving myself lots of time to prepare.
I spoke about my preparation and training plan in my last Fitness Friday post, so I won't reiterate it here. The key aspects are that I built my long runs up over a period of about 4 months, and the longest distances I did ahead of yesterday were 18km and 18.5km.
|Packing essentials: Black strap molasses (I eat it before long runs), dates (I eat them during long runs),|
Nuun electrolyte tablets (two tubes, just in case!), and my running water bottle.
After four months of working towards the 21.1km, I was feeling prepared for the run. Or at least, I was feeling prepared up until the middle of last week, when I started to doubt my capabilities. Those doubts peaked on Saturday and I had some rather intense periods of nervousness during that day. I also dreamed about missing the start on Saturday night, so I would say my nerves continued right up until Sunday morning!
Fortunately, on Sunday morning I did feel ready. I wanted to run it. The weather was cool at the start (about 16'C). I wasn't nursing any injuries. The course was brilliant for a first half marathon, being mostly flat and incorporating three distinct 'sections', which broke the distance down mentally. The course is also an attractive one, being almost entirely alongside water, generating the Three Waters name. The panorama photos below pretty much show the length of the course, starting in the far left of the top photo, wrapping around to the far right of the last photo. The course then loops around, covering some of the same paths and some new ones, to return and finish at the start.
I have a tendency to go out too fast in organised running events, swept along by the atmosphere and enthusiasm. Knowing that tendency, I tried to moderate my pace through the first sections, but still ran a faster first half than second half overall. Given I finished in a time that matches my training pace, I'm wasn't too concerned in the end, but I would like to master a negative split (faster second half than first half) one day.
As it was, my first 14km felt really good. I enjoyed the atmosphere and the course, found a semi-regular rhythm (I was still trying to moderate my speed, but otherwise it was fine), and felt strong. The stretch from 14km to 18-19km was harder, but still manageable. It matched how I've felt in training runs. The last 2-3km were, however, extremely tough! I was hot, I felt like my legs were made of lead, and if there had been a steep hill in the final stretches I suspect I would have slowed to walking pace. Luckily the only hill was a small one and I reached the finish line in 2 hours, 5 minutes and 51 seconds. That equates to an average pace of 10.05 km / hour (5.58 minutes / km), or 6.24 miles / hour (9.36 minutes / mile). Not fast, but spot on what I've been training at.
|Various stretches of the course (taken ahead of time except for the finish line.)|
Whilst the weekend was mostly about the race, we also incorporated other things into the trip. Bunbury is 2 hours south of Perth, so we elected to drive down on Saturday and have the night there, returning home yesterday.
On the trip down, we stopped for a picnic lunch at Pinjarra, finding an interesting couch nestled between the Murray river and a playground. It reminds me (on a much smaller scale) of the Victorian playground furniture Johanna posted about on Saturday.
After arriving in Bunbury, we collected my race pack and examined various stretches of the course, before climbing the tower that afforded the panoramic photos above, and making the most of dusk lighting on Bunbury's beaches.
They call it magical lighting for a reason. I also snapped photos of Mr Bite grimacing at the cold water, and chatting to a friendly dog, but in the interests of his privacy I'm leaving them off!
In all, it was quite a milestone of a weekend. I still can't quite grasp that I have really and truly run a half marathon, but am so glad I did it and that I've built running into my life. I don't yet have the urge to do a full marathon (quite the opposite actually, after finding the half distance long enough) but would like to break a 2 hour time for this distance eventually.
Have there been things (athletic or non-athletic) you've done that have surprised you?
Or do you have any half marathon stories of your own to share?