Sunday, September 30, 2012

City2City Half Marathon: The PB run continues

Following the Irene Spring Race last weekend things didn't go according to plan. Follwoing months of tough guy bravado over my health and my running load my body finally succumbed. Running in the rain at the race probably didn't help either. I was booked off with respiratory tract infection and ultimately got some much needed rest, in bed for two days.

That rest served me well. Having entered the Bonitas City2City Half Marathon, I was keen to do the event.  All of the races I have done so far, Wally Hayward excepeted, have been undoubtedly local events, and City2City definitely has a big race vibe to it. It's not in the league of Comrades or Two Oceans but definitely feels more similar to those events than anything else I have run.

To recap then this was the challenge that I  and 2100 odd half marathon runners, 3500 if you include the 10km runners who shared the first 9km with us faced:
City2City Half Marathon course and profile
After collecting my race pack and goodie bag on Saturday morning, I drove the first 12km to get a sense of the challenge. I've run in the area before while doing the Nike+ Centurion Run Club so I was familiar with the general terrain, as out 5.3km route climbs up to Glover Avenue albeit one block up. I knew the first half was tough but after driving it I was expecting particularly that stretch between 4km and 6km to be a stinker that needs to be respected.

Sunday morning was an early start. I was up by 4 am, and had my usual morning fuel, 100ml yoghurt, a banana and a cup of coffee. Thankfully it would appear my stress induced bowel movements are now a thing of the past. My mother and brother were also running, doing the 10km, and we were off by 4:55 to head to the venue. I was worried about parking and traffic and I was overly cautious as we parked and at the start by 5:30. This gave me plenty of time to warm up and mingle and be ready for the 6:30 start.

The first km was a bit of a disaster as I somehow contrived to start then pause the Garmin, so I was getting pace information but no time or distance. I only figured this out as I checked my time at the first kilometre. So I then had to rely on ~20km of timing data, and adding on a predicted 4:00 for that first kilometre.

My goal was to respect the first half and finish strong but a discussion with a fellow runner on Twitter planted a seed that took route from that first kilometre. Since the second half is easier why not be aggresive in the first half anyway since I'm less likely to pay as the downhill trend would be more forgiving than a standard route?

And that's pretty much how it went. I hovered around 4:00/km pace throughout. My exact splits are difficult to guage of course but some reverse maths, has my first kilometre at 3:53, so I estimate that I went through 5km in 20 flat, 10km, in 40:30, 11km in 44:30, 15km in 1:00:50 and 20km in 1:20:55. Attacking the first half meant that I didn't negative split the race but I doubt if I had gone through 11km in 47:00 like I had planned to, I would have managed much quicker than 40:00 for that last stretch. My aggressive first half was still sensible in the end and gave me a time that I didn't think was possible at the start. As I rounded the final bend at the Centurion Rugby Club to see the clock just ticking to 1:25:20, I was over the moon.

At the finish...PB!!!
I crossed the line officially in 1:25:28. This was an improvement of 2:40 over last weekends time, and a crazy 9:33 from my Wally Hayward time on 1 May, and a further13:14 over my debut half marathon at Slow Mag, which was as recently as 15 April. It was another silver medal to add to the collection, and 77th overall out of 2159 finishers in such a big race is such a confidence booster.

This is likely my last half marathon of the year. Going through my calendar I have already run 16 official races  this year, not counting my one visit to Ebotse Park Run, and 10 of them have resulted in a PB of sorts, excluding first time attempts at a distance. The half marathon was an important component of my running goals for 2012. I did the half marathon, after not quite mastering the 10km, to get out of my comfort zone. I had remarkably enough never finished a 10km without walking, befreo towing the start at Slow Mag. So while for most club athletes a half marathon is not a big deal it was a defining point for me to prove that I could have the discipline to start a program and stick with it right to its conclusion. My goal was to run sub 1:40 and to be sat here now, 29 seconds away from a sub 1:25 half marathon is the stuff of dreams. A sub 90 was on my 2 year/end of 2013 roadmap, and now I'm going to have rewrite my plans for next year from scratch!

The half marathon is undoubtedly my favourite distance to race now, challenging enough but also forgiving enough to allow some tactical flexibility. And the City2City half marathon replaces the Wally Hayward as the most enjoyable race I have done. Tough, enjoyable and rewarding with a time beyond what I had expected.

1 comment:

  1. Hi guys,
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