My folks gave me the above statue for my birthday when I went to see them in the UK last year. I love it. He has the number 76 on his bib and I think he’s dashing home from a race meet in that well known running mecca of Hareton. Obviously he’s done very well because he’s sporting a medal. I bet he’s looking forward to some lettuce and a nice, cold carrot juice when he gets home. I wonder if he’ll be at Parkrun on Saturday?
I had a year and a half of running behind me when I lined up at the start of this year’s Round the Bays, feeling eager and well stretched, with a time of 1.40 in my sights. The weather forecast turned out to be spot on, with cool southerlies, cloud, and an early morning shower so the conditions were excellent. It was nice to bump into Richard McChesney, race director at Lower Hutt Parkrun just before the off. He was preparing himself for the half marathon walk followed by a walk back to Lower Hutt, so he obviously had a lot of ground to cover that morning! I was slightly annoyed that I’d forgotten my “Sport beans” jelly beans though. I’d filled up on toast and Berocca at around 6am and was starting to feel a bit hungry again by 8am, but I figured I’d be able to quaff a few Powerades on the way so I’d be alright. I’d been hoping to find the 1.40 pace runner at the start but he was nowhere to be seen. I spotted the 2 hour and 1.45 pace runners after a bit of mingling, so just got into position in front of them. Maybe they need brighter balloons tied to them next year!
Not exactly sure what pace I set off at, just what felt comfortable. I remember getting to 2km in 9 mins and 5km in about 22.30 so my early pace was around 4.30min/km. I was pretty happy with that, figuring that I needed to get off to a good start, however I could feel myself slowing down by the time we got to Cobham Drive. The legs felt good though. I’d had a swim the night before and done lots of stretching, so I didn’t feel stiff and the shins were fine. I can’t say I was bursting with energy, but I did catch up with the 1.40 pace runner at the turn off to Shelly Bay Road and stuck with that pack for a while. I got to 10km in a tiring 47 minutes, slower than I’d done on some of my long training runs, which left me feeling a bit doubtful about my chances. At around 11 or 12km the 1.40 pack pulled ahead and from there on I was digging in to make sure the 1.45 pack didn’t catch up!
Then the leaders started passing me on their way back and that gave me a boost. You get a great perspective on the achievements of others when you try to follow in their footsteps. It doesn’t matter how far away you are from matching their performance, at least you get the feeling of being on the same continuum and that’s inspiring.
It was a great relief to reach the turn point. It’s always further away than you think! I managed to speed up for a while and it was great to spot a few familiar faces from work and Parkrun while I was on the way back, but for the most part people were passing me rather than the other way round. There was no way I was going to let my time drift past 1.45 though so I just hung on. Can’t say I especially enjoyed the last 5km. I think it took about 25 minutes. But then I got to the turn for Kilbirnie Park and heard shouts of “Go Daddy Go!” coming from the crowd in familiar voices! It’s a pity the course photographers weren’t right there as they might have actually got a shot of me smiling instead of grimacing! That was the best bit of the whole race. After that a whole bunch of people sprinted past me on the way to the line and I finished in 1:42.26.
So not quite the triumph I was hoping for, but still a half marathon personal best and it’s left me doubly motivated to do better next time. Despite having a few good runs during training I don’t think I put in enough kms in the lead up to the race. I was only averaging 30-35 kilometres a week during January. School holidays and shift work might have had something to do with it! And I was being careful to avoid shin splints. If I want to do better I simply need to find more time for running.
What’s next? I’ve already signed up for the Adidas 10km on the waterfront in June, but I’m not sure what sort of target to set myself. I’ve already come close to 45 minutes over 10km during some long training runs. So perhaps 42 minutes? That would be an awesome number to aim for – the answer to life, the universe and everything! Right now I feel like exploring some new running routes. I’ve been running in circles around Johnsonville for over a year now and could do with a change of scene! So I won’t worry about times for a while in favour of trying new things. At some point I’d like to have a crack at some speed work, maybe on a track. That’ll be new to me as well. I know there’s the track in Newtown which I think is open to the public when it’s not already in use. Are there any other good places to try? What are your favourite routes around Wellington and the northern suburbs?
Finally, I just want to say a big, loving “thank you” to L and the rest of my family for their support, once again, and their patience. I simply couldn’t get out of the door without their support and encouragement, and in the end they make it all worthwhile.
Well done everyone who was there on Sunday, and good luck for next time. See you on the road to Hareton!