This blog post’s a bit late but I thought it was about time I wrote something to wrap up my series of posts about the Wellington Round the Bays 2012 which took place at the end of February. The excitement of race day is long past, but I’m still enjoying the feeling of achievement of going from total non-runner to finishing my first half marathon in 5 months. And I’m still enjoying running, with new milestones in mind. It’s still hard to believe the Round the Bays is over though. Having spent the whole summer of 2011/2012 in training, it was all over in one glorious morning and I was home in time for lunch. Here’s how I imagined the day in my first blog post back in November:
“At 7.59am on Sunday 26th February I’ll be milling around with thousands of other people in Frank Kitts park, admiring the beautiful weather and feeling eager to get started. A minute later I’ll be off on my 21 kilometre journey round the Wellington waterfront, round Evans Bay, Shelly Bay, to Scorching Bay, and then back to Kilbirnie Park, where I’ll be cheered over the finishing line by hoardes of my adoring fans.”
That was 15 weeks ahead of the big day – I was still dealing with shin splints and was yet to conquer a 5km, run let alone 21km! Race day unfolded a lot like I imagined. The weather was perfect – Cool, light winds, dry. I got dropped off at the start line at around 7.30am, did some stretches, milled around watching the crowd grow, and also went for that all important last pee. Just before the start a highly energized gym crew led a 5 minute warm up for everyone. It was pretty surreal to be standing in the middle of a main road at 7.55am with loud techno blaring out of some speakers (it’s been a while since I’ve been anywhere with loud techno blaring out of the speakers). Then a brief time later the starting gun went off and we were plunged into silence – The hype was over, it was time to run. The only noise was the footfall of thousands of runners taking off down the road – a soft, pattery noise like it was raining rubber balls.
I was very famliar with the first 7km along the waterfront round to Miramar. I’d done that run many times in training and it seemed to go very quickly. Then we turned up Shelly Bay Road on the way to the turn point at Scorching Bay (another 5km). This was probably the nicest part of the whole run – The road was closed off for the event so it was a novelty (for me anyway) to have that whole stretch of coastline to run along without having to worry about traffic. And it was all in shade. By the time I was half way up Shelly Bay Road the first runners were already on their way back from the turn point. Way out in front was the Kenyan runner Kip Kemei. Everyone applauded as he ran past in the opposite direction, effortlessly on his way to first place.
After going round Point Halswell it seemed to take ages to get to the turn point itself – It always seemed to be round the next headland! Then it finally appeared and I was on my way back down Shelly Bay Road, feeling good, with the actual finish line about 8km away. Along the way there were regular hydration stations and I sipped some water while on the run at just about every one. When I got to 16km I looked at my watch and started wondering if I could finish in the 2 hours I was hoping for. I think I had about 30 minutes to do the last 5km, which would have been easy any other time, except I’d already run further than I ever had in training and was definitely slowing down. So I made an effort to try and pick up the slow pace I’d settled in to. When we got back onto Cobham Drive we were out of the shade and it was starting to feel warm, but it was only a couple of kilometres to go from there.
Then, finally, Kilbirnie Park came in sight. I rounded the corner towards the finish and there at the side of the road were my adoring fans, waving home-made “Go Daddy Go” signs and cheering (this was by far the best moment of the whole race!). I put on the best sprint I could for the last couple of hundred metres and finished in 1.59:20, hands in the air and grinning my head off.
I have to say the whole event was organised brilliantly. There were even people handing out bananas and bottles of water to all the finishers (very welcome!). The half marathon was timed to finish about the same time as the 7km so there were thousands of people converging on Kilbirnie Park, but it didn’t feel like a crush and I managed to meet up with the whanau soon after finishing. There were free bouncy castles for the kids and free ice pops too. I can’t describe how good an ice pop tastes after running solidly for 2 hours! My legs held up pretty well. No shin splints, no aches or pains. The worst fallout was a headache which set in late afternoon. I drank plenty of water to stave off dehydration, so I’m not sure where that came from. Maybe it was a simple comedown from the euphoria of completing a race I’d been working towards for 6 months! I’m looking forward to next year already.
So what’s my next milestone going to be? I’m hoping to do the Auckland half marathon in October this year (7 months away), and my goal is to finish in 1 hour 45 minutes. That’s a steady 5 minutes per kilometre throughout the race. I know I can do that pace, it’s a question of sustaining it. My plan is to get used to that pace at 5km, then 6km, then 7km and so on. So I guess my first milestone on the way to this goal is to run 10 kilometres in 50 minutes. Let’s say I’ll aim to do that by the time of the next Wellington event, the winter marathon at the end of June. I can’t guarantee the weather will be as good as it was for the Round the Bays though. Thanks everyone who supported me and provided encouragement over the last 6 months, especially the wonderful Bee – This has been one of the best things I’ve ever done and I simply couldn’t have done it without you.
See you at the start line next year!