Sandy Point Half Marathon

Any race that uses a picture of myself as promotion makes me think I should compete in it. Wouldn't want to disappoint the masses.


Last year my race slow and cold over the same course. A time of 1:30:20, was disappointing and a kick up the backside to get to what really works in training. Since then I have put in a lot of consistent kilometres and have seen some improvement. I was definitely going to race faster this year. Based on my race results over the last few months the hope was to see if I could get down to near 1:24:xx.

The weather was very different this year. Far from cold, in fact I think it was our warmest night in a few months. However, there was a Damaging Winds warning issued, with predictions of 65km/hr gales to slow things downs a bit. The winds hit, according to the weather sites: NNE averaging around 50km/hr with gusts of 76km/hr. That made for some interesting race tactics. Luckily the rain held off until after the race.

For some reason I felt ready with only 10 minutes of very easy running. Not my usual 25-35 warm up. So I just relaxed and for the remainder of time, kicking in another 3 minutes of running just before the start. Something was feeling right. I was in a state of relaxed readiness.


Racing

Up Jetty drive and turning onto the main road it was clear the wind was going to play a big role. Today felt like a competitive race with plenty of runners in contention for the top twenty positions. Sticking to a set pace was impossible as the varying winds and undulations made for an interesting course. Over the crest of one of rises the field spread out before me. Maybe 20 or so ahead, but not too far. What made things interesting was everyone was in echelons. It was like watching the Tour de France when the crosswinds hit. I was in my own group of three, trying to make the most of a draft.

After the turnaround at about 5km the dynamics changed. With a strong tailwind, and more downhill than uphill over the next few kilometres, I decided I should move up the field. Downhill running is still one of my strengths, plus I think the forced time on the treadmill may have improved some of my leg speed. Anyway, I steadily picked off a few runners. Some of the guys made it easy, as it was clear who had overextended themselves in the first quarter.

Somewhere just before 9km, two runners moved ahead of me. They looked smooth and strong. At the same time, the other two runners sticking with me fell off the pace. We were heading to the turnaround at the halfway mark. With the turn was also the a return into the headwind. Something I wasn't happy to deal with all by myself. This called for a surge that felt way too hard to catch the two ahead of me by the turn.

Through the turn I fell in behind the pair. There was a chance I had just ensured I had just the rest of my race. Nothing to lose now, so I focused my energy on doing what I could to stay in the perfect drafting position. With such a narrow mindset, the 3rd quarter felt uneventful except for one thing. I gradually felt better and better. The pair were forcing the pace, but the wind looked to be taking its toll on them.

With The Wind

Into the last turnaround, a bit over 5km left and now all with a tailwind. I took the turn tight, foregoing the drinks station on the outside of the turn. This immediately gave me about a 20m gap on the runners I had been pacing off. Not to waste the opportunity I put the hammer down. It was clear I taking advantage of the recent higher threshold and anaerobic training. I was racing above my usual half marathon level.

Over the next kilometre I stuck to the pace, before I was caught. We had lost one of our group. If my maths were correct we were fighting for the last spot in the top ten. Side by side the next few hundred metres were getting harder. Then my opponent made a comment, but I couldn't understand what he said, he just sounded so breathless. I knew I was hurting, but he seemed to be hurting more. Better take advantage of the situation.

I took off like I only had a couple of hundred metres left, not the two and bit kilometres to go. The rest was a blur, weaving through the slower 10km competitors. I looked back once only, but it was too hard to tell who was behind as the different race distances were becoming entangled. At least it was clear enough no-one in the half marathon was on my shoulder.

Down Jetty road, a little skid on the sand at the turn onto oval and into the finishing straight. A full five seconds clear into 10th overall. Apparently that was 3rd in the male 30-39 category too. The time was much better than expected: 1:22:01. With splits of 41:58 and 40:03. The big negative split was a surprise. Difficulty walking for the rest of the day was the price to pay for the effort. A good deal really.

Comments

  1. Nice race report.

    I was one of the guys ahead you were trying to pick off... like you I moved through the field as the race went, from about 15th at the 5k mark to 5th eventually.

    Unfortunately I couldn't find a windbreak on the 3rd leg at all... spent that section gradually reeling in a group of 3, caught them about a kay before the final turnaround.

    What sort of time are you aiming for at MM? I guess we'd be pretty close.

    John

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  2. Nice race Jason. Was that a PB?

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  3. Top work on a tough day, I did the 5km and that was hard enough!

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