The decision to run this was last minute. I entered the race on Thursday night as a good excuse for a long run.
My lack of preparation was apparent on Saturday night when I realised I only had 1 energy gel in the house. Too late to go and buy more so I managed to rustle up a handful of jelly sweets and a 2 miniature choc bars. That would have to do.
I set my alarm for 4.45am, had a bowl of porridge, cup of coffee and left the house at about 5.20am. The trip to RNP was easy and I entered the park just before 6am but spent about 15 minutes driving up and down the road looking for the right spot.
Had a chat with Gavin, did a few dynamic stretches and lined up at the start. There would have been a maximum of 30 runners, so a nice small field. An hour later the half marathon would start along with the 10km and 5km race.
My vague race plan was to set out and try and run sub 4 minute kilometers until roughly half way and the just hold on until the finish with a hope of sneaking in under 3 hours. Given my lack of any long runs over the half marathon distance I figured that I would hit the wall pretty badly around the 30 kilometer mark but it didn’t really matter as it was just a training run.
The terrain was an old coach road built in the 1800’s. It was a mixture of stones and mud with bush either side.
The format was an out and back of a couple of km’s at the start then 2 longer out and backs. I like this style as you can get to see where the competition is. As it happens, runner 2 was only a few hundred meters behind me at the first turnaround but that gap gradually grew by 20 minutes at the end of the race so I really was out on my own for the day which was just fine with me.
There were a number of drinks stations on the course which was completely adequate. They had water and a sports drink. Given the low price of the race (only $47!) drinks were provided in plastic cups. The problem with this is that unless you walk through the drinks station you cant (well I cant) get any of the drink in me. I either choke on it or pour it all over myself. So at each drinks station i just walked through, had my drink and started up again. I’d say all this add’s up to maybe a minute lost in total, but again it was a training run so all good.
At the 10km mark which I hit in 40 minutes dead on I had some sweets and then slowly consumed the rest every 5 kilometers. At one stage on an out and back section Gavin kindly waved a gel at me knowing i was short but i felt ok so declined. Gotta love the running community!
The course was steeper than I had anticipated with a sharp climb at the end of the long out and back section. Garmin measured over 300 meters. Given all the runners and recent rain the course was also quite boggy in parts which made maintaining a rhythm more challenging but also good fun.
The half marathon mark passed in 1hr 24mins and I was feeling pretty good. At 28 kilometers fatigue was beginning to set in so I just concentrated on holding good form. In the end I didn’t hit the wall but I inevitably slowed but not to the extent I thought and I was happy to cross the line in 2 hours 51 on on the dot. (results page has me listed as 2.47 which cant be right).
Pancakes after and then a drive home. Great morning!
Photo Credit: Sri Chinmoy photographer