When I think back to the last time I did a half marathon, I have to go a long way back to 2012 when I won the Hanmer Half! So it was about time to give it another crack and see if I could get the PB down. Given that the Leeston course was pretty flat I was fairly confident it was possible to go faster, but given my training has changed significantly since I ran the Hanmer Half I was unsure what I was actually capable of. The aim was to see if I could bang out some good km’s in a comfortable shape and hopefully achieve a time of around 1:15.
Arriving in Leeston before the event I wasn’t feeling entirely confident, the legs felt pretty fresh on Friday night, and Saturday’s 60km easy bike didn’t seem to be having any affect on the muscles but for some reason I was feeling sluggish. This is not necessarily a bad thing as Coach Mike has told me in the past either…. its just you body preparing itself for the onslaught its about to endure… not sure if that’s entirely true but I like the sound of it and I’m willing to believe it!
As the race got underway, there was quickly two of us that jumped to the front, Vajin Armstrong and myself. I settled into a place where I was feeling pretty comfortable, which happened to be just in behind Vajin. For the first 5km’s he started to open a gap on me, and I let him go. By my watch I felt I was going a bit slow, doing approximately 17mins for the first km. But as with my rough plan I just stuck with something that I felt comfortable with. Vajin seemed to back off a bit from here on in and then just as I could start to feel the blisters forming on my feet (Hadn’t worn those shoes or socks in a race in a while….) I suddenly found myself passing him.
For the next few kms we changed the lead a few times, before we got to the halfway mark and I began to feel quite good. I hoped it would last but as we entered Southbridge with 9kms still to go, I was into the hurt box. Some inexperienced water station marshals were not too eager to hold their hands out for long enough for me to grab what I wanted, sadly I missed out and lost a little bit of ground to Vajin too…. oh well, such as the way things go sometimes!
The final 5km’s couldn’t come soon enough, I was still neck and neck with Vajin, and I really didn’t want it to come down to a sprint finish, because of my perceived lack of speedwork at the moment. We changed the lead what felt like 8-9 times, as we both waxed and waned a bit in the dying km’s I thought I had it a number of times but each time Vajin came back. Into the home straight I knew I needed to go early and with 200m to go I took the lead and the tempo increased. Vajin matched, I went harder, Vajin was still there. I was telling myself to believe I could do it, there was a lot of pain in my feet and legs, but I threw everything at it. Finally with 50m or so to go Vajin kicked and he flew in front of me, I tried but there was nothing there to go with him, and I crossed 3 seconds behind him in 1:13:15, a PB for me but a little bit gutting all the same.
On reflection I’m pretty happy with how I went, I stuck to the plan and managed a good time considering at the beginning of of the week I hadn’t fully committed or decided on entering!