Run Report: Sydney HM

18 05 2011

Last weekend, I went up to Sydney to run the Sydney Half Marathon. I’m hoping to do a full marathon in September or October this year and a HM now is right in keeping with my (very loose) plan.

I felt under-prepared. I’d only had a dozen or so runs in the preceding couple of months (only 16 for the YTD) and nothing over a very slow 17kms. Work and  weather have conspired to keep me away from training. I’ve basically done midnight shifts or 6am starts for the last month and a half, and if it’s not dark, it’s freezing (or both). But I promised myself that if I could get close to the distance in the weeks before the HM, I’d sign up and go and so I found myself at the starting line early on Sunday morning.

Despite the previous week being the coldest May week ever or for years (or whatever), Sunday morning proved to be a cracker. It turned out to be a beautiful, clear, crisp Autumn morning and was perfect for running. Despite the worlds slowest train, I made it to Hyde Park with about ten minutes to spare. I had enough time to drop off my baggage, and stretch before heading over to the start line. In fact, the seeded runners were on their way while I was still making my way to the pack.

Ready to go, I realised that the last time I’d smelt this much Dencorub in the one place was at last years City to Surf. I had a quiet chuckle to myself as the gun went and we started the walk to the start line. Meticulously starting two Garmins as I crossed the pad, I set off with the pack. I was instantly grateful that only 11,000 people were running as it was much easier to hold a line and pace than it was amongst the 80,000 in last years C2S.

The course itself was quite good. In my opinion, it was a very suitable course, not too flat, not too hilly. Sure there were some climbs, but they weren’t overly steep or long and I actually enjoyed the morning. In fact, other than one or two hairpins, the only part of the course I disliked was the tease at the end where we came to within a couple of hundred metres of the finish line only to turn left and head away again. By this stage of course, the run had become mental as I became acutely aware that I was in uncharted territory for the year. Only two weeks ago, I was struggling at the seventeen km mark as I let my mind weaken and defeat me. Today, I stayed focused. I wasn’t hurting. I didn’t have far to go. I wasn’t quitting. I didn’t quit.

I’d set myself a series of goals for the race.

The Goal: To finish without stopping SUCCESS

The Dream: To finish the HM with a sub 2 hour time. SUCCESS (sort of)

The Pipe Dream: To finish the HM with a sub 1hr55min time. FAILED

To say I finished without stopping is of course to exclude the hairpins, where walking is an unfortunate necessity. I slowed down to a crawl at the drink stations . Other than that, I did my best to maintain a pace that kept me head of my Virtual Partner. The VP was set for a pace of 9min/mile (5min37.5s/km) which is equal to about 1hr58m41s for the HM.

According the Garmin, I succeeded. Despite being almost two minutes ahead at the half way point, the hillier second half and the more congested drink stations cost me time and by the end I was up by mere seconds (VP actually drew level at one stage, but I pushed harder over the last couple of kms and clawed back a slender lead).

So, despite beating the Virtual Partner home, I clocked an official time of over 2hrs. How? Because (and I’m convinced of this) – the course was long by about 400m. I spoke to a number of people after the race, and have read a couple of online race reports and everyone agrees (or at least their GPS’ do) that the race was long. Some say impossible, but I think that with an all new course, it is entirely possible. I don’t think it is likely that the weaving around people accounted for 400m.

Therefore, based on average speeds, I ran 21.1km in 1hr58m04s. According to the official times, I ran 21.1km in 2hr 20s.

So…did I achieve my goal? I maintain that I ran a HM in less than 2 hours, but (for better or worse) I didn’t run the course that was in front of me in less than 2 hours. I’m not particularly happy about the discrepancy. What is more annoying to me, is that for all eternity, my official time will state 2h00m20s and despite my personal opinion, I find I have no choice left but to run another HM and finish in less than 2 hours.

Run Melbourne Half Marathon, here I come.




One response

18 05 2011

See you on July 17th then 🙂

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