Gold Coast Half Marathon
Race Date: July 6th Results: 2014
Heading out early on Friday morning to Williamtown airport I noticed a growing number of police and rescue vehicles whizzing by. Sure enough up ahead on the Tourle St Bridge traffic had come to a standstill. With astute driving skills I managed to pull out just before getting stuck and hot footed it to the airport via Tomago. I dropped Fay off at the entance and couldn’t make out a message which came out over the pa system to which she responsed, “Oh no”. (I later found that we were being paged and had three minutes to report in). I drove back to the bronze carpark, noticed by run bag on the back seat (which she’d left behind!) and did an unexpected 600m tempo run (on my day off) back to the terminal. I rushed through security (“Are you the guy with the wife waiting at the gate?”) to be told that I’d missed the plane by a mere 60 seconds. There it was, just outside the glass door, with the steps still in place. But despite my persuasive arguments the uniformed people wouldn’t budge
So with an unscheduled breakfast at Morpeth I had time to reflect on my preparation before our rescheduled Jetstar flight later in the afternoon. I was not targeting this race or a particular time though I did think sub 90 minutes would be nice. The opportunity to compete only arose recently when we arranged to stay with friends in Brisbane … and I picked the weekend carefully after consulting a running calendar!
I felt I could do 92-3 minutes very comfortably in my current condition though sub 90 might be a bit of a stretch. In some critical training runs in the previous two weeks – two pointed in the right direction but I couple indicated otherwise.
The game plan was to hang behind the 90 minutes pacers in the first half, negative split and storm past them towards the end. The very early start – 6am – provided ideal conditions and I was able to start right next to the dark blue balloon pacers, quite close to the front. I started my Garmin when I crossed the line rather than gun time. After a bit of congestion in the first km or so things settled down and I was comfortably churning out sub 4:20 ks. (needed to do 4:15s) with the pacers somewhat ahead. The course is nice and wide on main roads with a few very gentle rises as we went over several bridges which broke things up nicely. It was great to see the lead runners come back and I’m sure I slightly lifted my tempo. I brought the average down to 4:17s and went through 10k in 43:13 (mat time; garmin time quicker). At the turn around point the pacers looked about 200m ahead I was still feeling good and slightly picked up the pace and was able to gradually working my way through the field (stats show I picked up about 84 places on the trip home … at this rate I could have won if it was a 60k event!).
As my average came down (on the watch) to 4:15, then 4:14, the pacers still seemed a way ahead but I was feeling fairly strong and confident. With about 1.5km to go just as I was comtemplating a significant tempo increase to “bring it home” - a left calf cramp came out of no where. Bugger – and I’d forgotten to strech them pre-race which is my normal and necessary practice. After trying to stretch a bit on the run it settled enough for me to pick up the pace a bit more for the last km but the pacers were further away than I’d hoped. I heard Deek and Monners (I think) on the PA calling down to 90 minutes – I thought my average time might get me there. I knew I would miss the clock time but felt I had 10-15 seconds up my sleeve on nett time. I crossed the finish line feeling pretty good and ended up with 90:08. I was pretty happy with that, and apart from an annoying left calf, felt great. I had indeed done a negative split with the second 10k in 42:27 and the last km my fastest.
Those who know me or who have read my 2014 Canberra Marathon report will know that I am two and a half years into a total rebuild of my running form and posture since coming in contact with Rob Higley. My focus at the moment is to contiunue to build my capacity to run (especially as I get older) and yoga and ‘Body Balance’ (group sessions at The Forum which combines tai chi, yoga, strength, balance, pilates, core, relaxation etc.) I think are playing a significant part. I feel that I’m at a stage where I can start to increase volume and intensity into my training. Stay tuned … this was an important steping stone to a sub-3 hour marathon.
The Gold Coast Airport Marathon and associated events are highly recommended. There is a great atmosphere and it was good to see a solid contigent from the Region of Runners across the events. The courses are excellent and the organization first-rate. Many running festivals (ie Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Canberra and Melbourne) have the problem of faster runners in longer races running up the back of slower runners in shorter races. Gold Coast avoids this to an extreme by sending the half-marathoners north at 6am and the marathoners south at 7:20 am. This is great for the 21k-ers – as we run in the cool morning and can then get out on course and cheer the marathoners on. But Queensland can heat up quickly, even in winter, and after about the two-hour mark it can start to get debilitating. I’ve heard from a reliable source (and you can’t get much more reliable than RP) that the later starting time for the marathon is to suit the Japanese TV market. I think runners should be put first and the actual marathon would be much more attractive to me if it started earlier, as I don’t do heat well.
Was I disappointed at missing out on a 90 by just a few seconds? Not really. It was more frustrating to miss a plane by 60 seconds and besides – you don’t get slapped with a $100 fee for missing out on your goal time!!
Discliamer: I kitted up for the first time in a Runlab singlet – which gave me a discount on the entry. However, I ran and felt like a Flyer.