This is somewhat of a delayed post about my last half marathon I ran on 23rd of February. Last year I ran the same half marathon in 1:33:55. Since then I had also run a PB time of 1:32 in September 2013. Since this was my first major race for 2014 I had a goal of running under 1:30. Most of my training leading up to the event has been on preparation on one of my goal marathons in May the Rotorua marathon. So this race was a good time to do a ‘time trial’ of how my training was progressing. At the same time I was not prepared to go all out and then lose time recovering for two or more weeks as I have only about 8 weeks left to the Rotorua marathon in May.
The day was pretty good weather wise, apart from a slight northwesterly wind it was a great summer day for an 8am start. However the race was delayed till 8:15am because the organisers were clearing some vehicles that had ventured into the closed part of the course.
My race plan was to run pretty even splits of 4:15min per Km pace so I will end up around 1:29 and getting under the 1:30 mark There were pace groups for 1:25, 1:30 and 1:45. So I was just slightly ahead of the 1:30 pacer and the plan was to hold pace with him from around the after the first 5km marker. In hindsight I should have held back a little bit. This year the race also introduced a 10k race and the start area was a bit hectic with 10k and half marathon runners all starting at the same time. I think that a staggered start would have been much better for all runners involved. This created bit of a rush and some confusion amongst a few inexperienced runners.
Anyways we started off and as usual there was a rush of the ‘mad dashers’ who usually end up paying the price around halfway. The first 7k splits were pretty good but a wee bit faster in some ways. Splits from start to 7k point were 4:14, 4:11, 4:06, 4:14, 4:06, 4:16, 4:15. At around the 7km point was the turn back for 10km runners and this became bit of a choke point for faster 10k runners coming back into the mass of the runners who were heading past the turn point. The next 7kms had a bit of head wind. I shadowed behind a few runners including the 1:30 pace group. Splits to the 14km mark were 4:23, 4:30, 4:14, 4:19, 4:11, 4:10, 4:11. I was still feeling pretty fresh around 14km marker and I broke a another PB of distance run in 1hrs at the 14km marker. So my pacing was spot on. This is where things got interesting. So what had happened was that the turning point was a bit off than what it should have been and thus making the actual distance about 600-700m longer. I knew straight away that this was the case as I had done the course before. So at this point I had two choices go out a bit harder and try and make up the time/ground to still officially break my 1:30 goal or maintain the same pace (which was feeling pretty good) and not push too hard. I did some quick calculations in my head and decided to stick with the same even pace. My rationale was that I had proven that I am able to comfortably maintain the pace and am actually running faster than I have run before. It was a sign that my marathon training was indeed working. The next final 7km splits were as follows: 4:13, 4:35 (slowed down at a drink station than I anticipated), 4:16, 4:19, 4:20, 4:08, 4:12) and then the added bonus of an almost an extra 1km in 4:22. The total distance actually came to 22kms instead of the standard 21.1km of a half marathon. The organisers officially acknowledged that the course was measured correctly but the volunteers who were sent to the turning point made an error in judgement and placed the turning point too far in that what was marked. There was no adjustments made to results. Officially my time was recorded as 1:33 (which was the same as last year). I actually crossed the 21.1km distance according to my garmin watch in 1:29:50 thus unofficially getting a PB. In any case I was pretty happy with the net result knowing that I am in fact running faster and more economically than before and on track to a good marathon in 8 weeks time in May!
Thanks for reading.