Sunday, September 14, 2014

Running in the Footsteps of Lydiard

Yesterday I had the pleasure of running Arthur's Half - the little sister to the Lydiard Legend Marathon.  It was the 10th anniversary of this iconic event, first organised in 2004 not long before Arthur Lydiard died.  The course is based on the local training routes of Arthur and his athletes, in the Waitakere ranges on the western outskirts of Auckland.


I've always wanted to run this race.  I remember Arthur visiting our school when I was about 15 and he left a huge impression on me then.  Even if he did talk about running for an hour at a time - my 'training' at that stage involved running a kilometre down the road to the Whitestone bridge and back as fast as I could!

We picked up my number on Friday night from the event base, and did a recce of the course while we were out that way.  I'm so glad I forced convinced Steven to drive it because having knowledge of the course really helped me on the day.  Always do a course recce!

The first 8 km or so undulate through the suburban streets of New Lynn and Glen Eden to Oratia, with a few small climbs to warm you up (and some nice downhills to compensate).  Then the real fun begins - with a long climb up Carter Road.  Starting gradually and ending with a few steeper bits, it was actually over sooner than expected even though I did quite a bit of walking.  By this time of day the low cloud had cleared, the sun had come out and it was humid+++.  At the 11km drink station someone mentioned it was 100% humidity - I'm not sure how true that was but I was certainly sweating a lot - and it might have explained why I was feeling sluggish.  I'm really glad I decided to take my small Nike handheld - I nearly left it behind but decided on it at the last moment. Lucky, because as it turns out I had drunk everything in it by each drink stop, where I filled it up again - as well as another full cup for myself!  I took a GU gel before the 6km and 11km drink stations, and although I opened another one at the 16km drink station I couldn't stomach it.  When I finished the race it was still in my hand!


After the Carter Road climb, the course begins to descend to Scenic Drive.  It took me a while to recover and get into descend mode, there was still a long way to go and I didn't want to thrash my quads too early.  But I settled into a short stride/quick turnover pace and soon started gaining on the others and overtaking them. Then they overtook me at the 16km drink stop.  Then I gradually reined them in again!  Once through Titirangi Village it was 5km downhill all the way, so here I really tried to up my tempo - I felt great and it was fun to run fast!

Well, I thought I was running fast...!

Let me tell you that the final stretch of Godley Road is a longer than long 2km, if that is possible. Even when you have made a mental note of this particular fact while doing the course recce!  A guy passed me on the flat (not sure if he was a marathoner or halfmarathoner) but he was going at a nice clip so I hung in behind him.  Until I realised we weren't even at the golf course and I would never be able to keep up his pace til the end, so I eased off a bit.  I actually walked for a few metres to catch my breath again, and then it was a final surge around the corner and along to the finish.  Looking back I am disappointed in myself for not keeping up with that guy.  I don't know why but I always doubt myself and get scared of becoming too breathless - something makes me give up when things get tough.  I found this advice from Kilian which I might tattoo on my forearm for when this next happens:


I ran through the finish chute and suddenly there was a guy standing right in front of me smiling and holding out a 10th anniversary Arthur's Half medal to place around my neck - I was speechless - my Best Running Moment ever!

My Anna Paquin moment!

Someone called from the sidelines and it was Sheree, who I had chatted to while running through Glen Eden - about our injuries of course!  She gave me a congratulatory hug and vice versa, and in the moment I forgot to wish her a good hamstring recovery and best wishes for the Waihi 60k which she is running in a month - so I'm doing it right now!

All the best Sheree!

Here are my results:
Time: 2:15:51
10/25 in F40-49 age group
154/206 overall

My only other road half marathon was the Auckland Half which I ran in 2:10:22 last November, probably a faster course.  Carter Road was a bit of a killer today, but then I still had a fast finish.  I'm going to say my performances were about equal!

As usual the volunteers were great and supportive, but I have to make a special mention about the wonderful spectators!  Along Carter Road, which is semi-rural, there were a few families standing at their gates cheering us on, some with placards waving. Coming into Scenic Drive where we joined the marathon course there was quite a group of people encouraging us, and throughout Titirangi Village the people in the cafes were standing and clapping - it was so nice to see and made you feel like an elite athlete really special and inspired - awesome support 100% appreciated!

I really hope I can run this event again next year.  I think what I loved most about this race apart from it's meaningful history, is that long final descent - you can have a fast finish and it leaves you on a massive runner's high!  I love my trails, but roads are great too!

Have you ever run Arthur's Half or the Lydiard Legend?  Tell me about it!
If not, tell me about your weekend of running!
What keeps you going when the going gets tough? (Obviously, I need tips here!)


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