I will talk about the race a little bit (as that’s maybe why most of you are here?) and then will possibly bombard you with photos of my best friend Annie and I, thoroughly enjoying our long overdue catch-up.
So, firstly – the race. This was the BEST and most well organised race I have ever taken part in. Everything was seamless and smooth, from the race bib pick-up to the shuttle bus transport to the race, to the different corrals and starting zones. As it’s their 36th event (I think) it seems they have definitely got it down pat. Unusually (or so I thought), the timing chip was actually part of the race bib and not a separate one worn on your shoe. Also, this was the first race I’ve ever run where you don’t get your t-shirt until the end of the race, just after you’ve crossed the finish line, so it means you know you’ve earnt it, lol…
The race started at 6am, but they instructed us to get there at 5am. Yep, that’s a very early start, and a fair bit of waiting around. However, this time also flew by, and after some wandering around to find my starting zone (different zones assigned by your last race time or your intended time for this one; there was zone A, B, C, and maybe D? Not sure… I was luckily in Zone A, which was perfect as I was surrounded by other runners aiming for the same pace and time as me, and so, far from the other runners being a hurdle and aiming not to trip over feet and around people in the first few kilometres, they were all on the same mission to get out there and into their race pace it seemed, and everyone flowed nicely), drinking coffee, and using the portaloos a few times, before we knew it the race had begun.
The first 10-11kms went perfectly – exactly how I’d wanted to run, although maybe even a little bit faster than I’d planned for my first 3 kms, however, this was again due to the other runners in my zone as I naturally joined pace with them – not uncomfortably fast though, just a little bit quicker than in practice (so, was 4:30 rather than the 4:45 I thought I’d go at). It is a very beautiful course, and I got to run past my new apartment after the first 3 kilometres (and again on the return at about 17 ish kms).
At about 13 kilometres in though, things were suddenly not so good. It’s hard to describe but I couldn’t keep my pace up, things felt a definite struggle, and I had gone freezing cold/cold sweats/shivery type feel, where I was thinking, ‘wouldn’t it be nice to curl up under a blanket on the side of the road right about now’. Noooooooo! What was happening?? I kept going, but couldn’t keep my pace up for the last tempo interval. So, instead of running at 4:10 ish, I was running at 4:35-4:40. The mantras were helping (particularly ‘you’ve done it before, you can do it again!’), as was the image of seeing Annie at the finish line, but I just couldn’t get my speed back up and felt very strange (I think maybe I was dehydrated, despite trying to be well hydrated, or the recent long traveling was in hindsight not the best approach pre-race?). I just wanted to finish and thought I’d not care about my time or a PR anymore – just finish. I didn’t even look at how long it was taking me and thought for sure I’d be something like 10 minutes slower or more than last time. Before I knew it, the finish line was in sight and I tried to run faster and stronger over the line, as they called out my name and commented on all the race gear I was wearing (I did take my camelback after all, with the intention of not having to slow down at the drink stations – an idea that was working fantastically until I started feeling weird and slowed down to grab extra water anyway). That was it, I’d done it. As I focused on not vomiting and collapsing (managed not to! Success), I checked my time. Wow, I HAD done it after all! A new ‘official’ pb (as in, a race pb, even though I’ve got another pb in training). It wasn’t the 1:30 I was aiming for, but was a whopping EIGHT seconds faster than my Shanghai half in December. Haha, but a pb is a pb right?? So, my official time for this one was 1:34:23. Yes, every second counts, I suppose. Hmmm, months of training and achieving a ‘training pb’ of 1:31 all added up to me getting pretty much the same time as my previous, not-so-trained-for half marathon where I wasn’t focused on my pace or looking at a watch? I think the next race I’ll run I will run ‘naked’ and not focus on a time. I know I can do it theoretically and in training, and maybe I will try and beat my time again in the future, but for a while I may just get back to having fun while running. This race was a struggle, but I tried my best and did the best I could do on the day.
When the race was over, there was a smiling Annie waiting for me, amazingly she’d managed to spot me and we met up as planned, and I then followed the lead of some other runners and went for a 15 minute ‘ice bath’ in the beautiful early morning, winter ocean water. This was a first for me, but I am quite sure it helped – my legs recovered pretty fast and well, albeit with a touch of quad soreness the next day when walking around shopping and looking for restaurants. It took us almost two hours to make it the 5km back to our apartment! And almost another 2 hours (once showered etc) to order, wait for and enjoy our breakfast after that. I suppose thousands of people in town for the races adds up to a lot of queuing for taxis and food and everything. After that, we relaxed and rested for a while (courtesy of copious cups of tea on the sofa together), and eventually ended up going out for celebratory drinks and, of course, more food, a fair bit later than planned. The next day was spent doing yet more eating in wonderful restaurants (there will be a fair few food-on-a-plate pictures, sorry if you’re not into that, but I was very excited to eat some awesome Australian fare that I’d been missing, so loads of fish/seafood and avocado, yumm…), shopping and walking around, and drinking. Oh and taking lots of pictures of ourselves to remind us of our trip, haha. And all too quickly somehow it was Tuesday early early morning and I was getting my taxi back to the airport to commence the looooonnnnng journey back to Husband and Puppy in China. It went something like this: taxi, plane no.1, walk through airport, plane no.2, taxi, train, bus, walk…. (over 1.5 days).
Here is my holiday in pictures, to give you a better idea of this race weekend and holiday with my bestie:
So, to sum up: I had an AMAZING weekend in Australia with the Beautiful Anne-Marie, I ran the Gold Coast half marathon (a beautiful, flat course, that I would love to run again), I achieved an official pb, AND upon checking my results a couple of days later, I found out that I came 110th woman (out of approx. 5000 – I will check again), and 26th in my age category too! Not too shabby.
Now it’s back into the packing and cleaning before we head off early Saturday morning on our amazing caravan tour through China! Now, if only there was a dimmer/slow switch for this time business. It really is going too fast. (I also need to catch up on all the things I’ve missed on various other running blogs since I’ve been gone, however this access to the internet will be short-lived, and during our caravan tour I don’t think we’ll have any internet access. So, it will be a whole month’s break from blogging and emails etc soon.)