21.1 101

The go out fast, then run hard approach made for one of my harder half marathon efforts. Melbourne put on perfect conditions for a day of running. The starting line for the full marathon and half marathon was crowded with nearly 8000 people lined up to take through the city's streets and finish on the MCG.

The morning was kind of social, well as social as you can be with waking up at 5:30am. My sister and next door neighbour were both competing in the half marathon, and in support was my wife and my sister's husband. I found myself a bit more talkative on race morning compared to usual. My warm up only consisted of an extended walk to find the baggage area and then to the finish line. The number of people already lined up meant my energy was directed towards trying to find a reasonable starting position. That is, as close to the front as possible and with no extra slow people to run around over the first few hundred metres.

After a delayed start resulting in standing in the one spot for about twenty minutes, the horn sounded and we were off... well, walking towards the start line. It took about half a minute before I was under the starting arch and my timing chip registered. It was at this point the crowd spread out a bit and I was able to fall into a reasonable stride.

Now my plan was put into action. I ran conservatively on the few short and not very steep uphills over the first half, continued at what seemed like a sensible effort over the flats, and really got my speed up on the downhill stretches. It felt easy, even when I was putting down a few sub 4:00 kilometres, including a 3:45 due to the downhill sections. I was very tempted to go faster, but I held back.

Passing through the 10km mark things started to change. Holding the pace I thought I should suddenly became very difficult. It wasn't just that the road was level for the next couple of kilometres, before it started to climb back towards the MCG. I didn't even have a head wind, which I expected down near the beach. It was simply that my legs felt like that had taking a pounding. Looks like the extra impact of the faster, down slope running causing some grief for my muscles. My legs were hammered.

After a few negative thoughts over the next couple of kilometres I decided to man up and just get on with. Racing wasn't meant to be easy, and to be honest I have hurt a lot more in some other races. So I focused on keeping good form, and made sure my heart rate did not drop and I took no notice of my split times.

I climbed up Fitzroy street and passed a couple of guys looking in very poor shape and this helped to improve my mindset. Maybe I was taking some enjoyment in other people's misery, but this is a race. The long false flat up St Kilda road had me feeling like an automated machine. Tall body, smooth running stride with legs that felt like bricks and most of all a quiet mind. Some may suggest a dead mind. Looking back, my head was really detached from the experience of the race at this point. My body was simply doing what it had practiced so many time before.

Eventually I reached Swan Bridge, which I think was a bit over 2km out from the finish. It was at this point the 10km and 5.5km event joined us on the course, converging onto the narrow path off the bridge. This last section, all the way to the finish I believe the organisers got it wrong. To put it simply, there were too many people in too small a space, especially if you have to take into account a few selfish people who spoil it for the rest. There were a number of people walking 4 or 5 abreast, and refusing to leave a small space for runners to get past. I wasn't the only person forced to push my through some people.

After navigating the obstacle course of prams (I didn't think they were permitted), walkers and people standing still, I found a clear stretch around the outside of the stadium, just before the short events were again separated into a different line than the half and full marathons. Here we turned a corner and then into was into the MCG.

It is by far one of the best experiences I have enjoyed in my sporting pursuits over the years. Running onto the turf of the sporting venue of my home city just feels fantastic. At first I wanted to take my time over those last 300m, but the guy behind me had decided to make a charge to try and claim my spot. Naturally I couldn't let him do that. My race ended with a very solid sprint to the line.

Race Stats:
Time: 1:25:49
Age group position 26 out of 641
Overall position 101 out of nearly 5000

That is my best half marathon for a few years. In the end it is a race I am very happy with. Now I'm ready to begin my Threshold Phase of training. More on that later.


  1. wow! what a great effort. I loved it when you decided to "man up". Then still digging deep to make the sprint to the finish.

    Congrats on a great race!

  2. Very nice rocking pace, congrats!

  3. Good race Jason - so close to the top 100.

    Can't say I noticed any hills (aside from the start and the bridge) - maybe I was too slow. I'm sure they'll fix the start times for next year - the congested last bit was ridiculous.


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