And then you finally start writing, but because you didn't actually achieve your goal, everything you write starts to sound like an excuse. Or maybe the excuses are really lessons to be learned. The most important lesson being: "You can take in all the advice, but on the day you may whimsically decide that none of this actually applies to you."
I slept poorly, tossing and turning all night, continually looking at the clock, and when it finally read 3:28am I hopped into the shower. I had slept well the night before though, which may or may not have had anything to do with the consumption of 4 glasses of wine... mmm, perhaps that's lesson #1?
Pre-race, everything went according to plan. We managed to park close to the finish for a quick getaway, and walked the 10 minutes to the ferry terminal. This was a semi-surreal experience in itself - with many fellow yellow gear-baggers intrepidly walking the 5am streets, converging upon the ferry terminal with their cushioned footsteps and hushed conversations of nervous excitement.
|Nervous excitement being evident in the camera shake on my arrival at Devonport|
Auckland CBD in the distance
|Steven contemplating what he has got himself into.|
(He ran a 1:41 - his first half!)
|The 3:15 pacer - maybe next year?!|
I did a few stretches to try and limber up, before handing in our gear, and lining up with 20 mins to go. Steven disappeared somewhere up with the rat pack, and I found a space which happened to be near the 2:00 pacer, with the vague notion of keeping them in sight.
I had done a quick 'back of an envelope' pace plan at lunchtime on Friday. My average pace last year was 6:10, so I planned to start out at that pace to the motorway (9km), pick it up to 5:50 to the bridge (14km), then 5:30 after the bridge, (6:30 was allowed on bridge and hills) and give it whatever I had in the final 1-2km - maybe 5:20? Maybe even 4:something?
Well the plan worked, but in reverse. My first kilometre was 5:20. I knew I should slow down, but I felt great, my foot had loosened up and was fine. The lady next to me was puffing and I was breathing easy. Maybe I could run sub-2 after all, even though none of my training indicated so. Maybe I was different, a super-talented runner who defied all previous statistics and could pull magic out of thin air. My head tried to slow down but my legs wanted to keep pace with the runners around me. This is the stuff you read about all the time in magazines like Runner's World - what not to do. But I did it.
Why, I do not know. Maybe my legs loved running again after a 2 week break, maybe I thought I may as well give this sub-2 goal a shot, maybe I had brain fade. Yes, that is probably it.
I started to falter around the 8km mark, which was no surprise as I had been running at 5km pace. The sun had come out and I took a moment at the drink station to down some fluids. The 2 hour pace group passed me here. I carried on to the busway but by Akoranga station (11km) I took the first of several walk breaks. This is where I started getting passed by multitudes of other runners, and the demoralisation of failure set in. It was a calm sunny 20 degree morning and slightly humid, but I felt like it was 32 degrees. Despite being outside by the harbour, there was no fresh air. My heart rate seemed to elevate at the slightest exertion, and at one stage I felt a bit dizzy and squeamish. I said goodbye to my goal, and settled for the best I could do on the day.
|I stopped my |
One thing I did notice is that there seemed to be more supporters this year cheering from the sidelines. Starting through the streets of Devonport, at the Takapuna on-ramp, Akoranga overbridge, and especially Curran Street onwards they were out in force. They gave me a lot of encouragement, although I probably didn't look as if they did.
Still, I managed to have a fast finish (where does that final energy always come from?) and overtook some runners in the finishing lane. I finished in 2:14:41 - only 4 mins slower than last year, but it sure felt a lot harder than that.
|To compare, last year my net time was:|
48.43% total finishers
63.66% female finishers
72.36% F4549 finishers
Not every race can be a personal best - or where is the personal challenge? The best thing is to learn from your experiences, and I think I've learnt a lot from this one.
Or maybe it was from Runner's World in the first place...