Half Marathon APESG - Race Report

I have absolutely enjoyed the Australasian Police and Emergency Services Games. Most years I get to compete in the state version, this year adds in competitors from around Australia and neighbouring countries and has created a new level. The level of competition stretches across all the sports from complete beginners to elite and everything in between. I've had the luxury to enjoy a lot of the track and field both as a competitor in the 5000m and as a spectator for the other events. The great culture amongst emergency service workers appears to be universal and delivers a friendly, but intense rivalry and competition.

My second and last event at these games was the half marathon. It was the race I was really aiming for. Not to take away from the 5000m, but my heart definitely was for the 21.1km. I do tend to favour the longer stuff. Plus with less than two months to my next marathon I probably need to be better at the longer event.

Conditions were great. A cool and sunny morning. The course is as flat as they come and predominantly on gravel path. Beginning with a straight forward out-and-back to ensure the correct distance is covered followed by 4x4.7km laps around Albert Park Lake and finishing with a turn into Lakeside Stadium and about 250m on the athletics track. It is a course that is open to the wind and that could play a big role in the race. This day conditions were as still as I've ever seen them. With underfoot being gravel, it isn't the fastest surface so any time achieved is an honest effort.


Palm Lawn at Albert Park, a perfect place to start.
Three easy days since the half marathon, an easy drive and good weather had me feeling pretty relaxed. I had agreed to wear one of the race's sponsor's products, a monitor that measures heart rate, breathing rate and a number of other metrics provided by an accelerometer that is all held in a band around the chest. I was surprised at the how big this band was, but relieved that once on it was hardly noticeable, it felt better than most heart rate monitor straps. During the race I forgot I had it on. None of the data is available in real time and is only accessed after being downloaded later on. I'm curious to see what comes back. Hopefully I hit the correct buttons on it.

In developing my race plan I aimed to keep it simple. There was likely to be at least a couple of fast runners plus a few at around my ability. I figured my best chance was to go out aiming to treat the event as a time trial looking for my fastest time possible and make slight adjustments from there depending on how the race unfolds. It was clear my short sprint isn't a strength, so that was to be avoided. Having added in the 5000m recently I knew I now had the strength and speed to put in a significant long surge. On the flipside there was the risk I could feel very comfortable at a pace that is too fast for the distance. That thinking formed the backdrop and otherwise I was looking to go on feel and not really pay much attention to time.


The finish, inside Lakeside Stadium

At a guess there were around 50 lined up. I made a point to be in the front line and once the gun sounded I took it out comfortably quick, but no where near a sprint. Immediately this gave some clear running and leading into the initial turn for the out-and-back I was in third place with 4h and 5th right on my shoulder. The two in front looked like they were running within themselves and were definitely running faster than me. I stuck to my pace over the first 2km. Still on my heels in 4th the Schwarz appeared to be working harder than he should and I was comfortable he was doing doing his typical fast opening before settling down. A quick look over my shoulder and the field was already spreading out in single file with large gaps. Time trialling was likely me to keep ahead of those already behind, but wouldn't give me a short at improving my placing.

Decision made. Increase the speed, keep it slightly above what I think I can hold and see where that leaves me at the end of the first two of four laps. Hopefully that keeps me in touch with the leaders. That first lap felt good. The legs were strong and felt quick. Even with the wet gravel underfoot I felt light. I was happy with my running and opened the gap to those behind. Up ahead, the gap opened up before me and by 7km I couldn't see the front runners. I held the pace through the second lap getting past 11km. Now well and truly out by myself I settled back down. There was no way I was going to catch 2nd unless he stopped. I'd put in the work to try and give myself a shot at that, but it wasn't beyond what I could do today. If I didn't blow up I was sure I had third overall wrapped up, even if there was a late challenge from behind. So I continued into the third lap at what was a more typically half marathon effort level.

Throughout this lap the harder opening revealed itself. The concentration required to keep the power and technique in each run stride was high. The deep burn from spending time above your threshold spread through each muscle and tried to suck the speed from them. I kept reminding myself it was good practice for the marathon. By the end of this lap 1st and 2nd were just a ridiculous distance ahead. Behind there were at least a couple of position changes, but the gap down to 4th was good.

Into the final lap, plus the little bit extra to the finish I became acutely aware a half marathon is a long way. I had the feeling I was being watched. The new player in fourth definitely had his sights set on me. The gap was big enough that I was confident I could keep it. However, through 18km I was running scared. Despite upping my effort my speed kept slipping. Still confident there was one surge left in my legs I spent the remaining distance checking over my shoulder. Finishing the lap and entering Lakeside Stadium I still held the a good gap, so got to enjoy the final 200m on blue.

As it turns out my average pacing started out at 3:46/km over the first 2km then for each 4.7km, 3:54, 3:59, 4:02 per kilometre finishing the final 5km in 4:07. A final time of 1:24:39 puts me right on 4:00/km as the overall average. Overall 1st had 1:16:xx and 2nd 1:19:01. I took 3rd outright, 8 seconds clear and 1st in my age group. I was happy with how I ran the race and stoked with the result. Great to add to the medal tally for Ambulance Victoria too. 



Comments

  1. Nice race and time Jason. Slowing 5k splits would be pretty normal if you're not in top marathon form.

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  2. Thanks Ewen, I was pretty happy with my runs at the Games. At the moment it looks like that top marathon form is pretty hard to find.

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