Half Marathon - Emergency Services Games 2015

If there is one thing the town of Ballarat does a lot, it is be cold. This year was no exception. The good news is tradition continued and the wet stuff didn't fall from the sky during the race. Icy wind was really the only weather issue to contend with. Not too bad for racing.

With popularity increasing the field was up to 47. This included some extra quality up front including the current record holder. Some new blood and some regular rivals. Should be fun.

Last week's cross country confirmed my weak points in racing. In particular that was my top end specific endurance. Anything above the so-called anaerobic threshold I struggled to hold for any reasonable time frame. The intensity level of the half marathon should suit me better than a 10km. Of course, if I went out too hard or surged, that was going to be costly. In almost every year at this race I have gone out pretty hard. This time I hoped to change that.

Lake Wendouree hosts the 6km Steve Moneghetti Track. A very flat, mostly gravel path. We start with an out and back 3.1km then its three times around the track in entirely to bring up the full 21.1km. As usual I take a spot up the front. Even if I'm not going to be the fastest, I can at least keep track of where I am in the field.

Icy wind means the starter's gun is fired as quickly as possible. I cover the first 3.1km right on 12 minutes and feel comfortable. At this point I'm in 7th position with someone tucked in on my shoulder. Out in front are three distinct pairs, each with their own space. I set the metronome to Stairway To Heaven, and hope I have the endurance for a strong finish.

The 6km lap goes quickly. No position change for me and a very consistent run. Allowing for the slight variation the wind direction had on pace I hit it spot on. It almost felt easy. With 9.1km in the bag, Putting my plan into action I sped up a little. This soon put me out by myself, but narrowed the gap on the next two.

Sixth place came back to me pretty quickly. It was hard not to get carried away at this point. My legs kept speeding up when my attention moved away from pace. As a result this lap had a bit more variability. Overall it was pretty close to the plan, but with some moderate spikes in effort that I had been hoping to avoid. The good news is by 13km I had moved up into 6th.

Closing down the second lap my legs now realised they had been racing. The final lap, the last 6km and the plan was to increase the pace a little bit again. The big hope was to keep increasing that speed over each kilometre if I was feeling good, otherwise a more realistic outcome was just to hold a good pace to the end. My effort increased to achieve this. I continued to make some inroads on the gap to 5th and I set my sites ahead of him. Unfortunately my pace wasn't getting faster. Instead it was slowing.

With the fatigue my form tried to leave me, and that sucked away speed. I relaxed, ran tall and held my technique together. The lightness and spring I had been experiencing for more than the first half had left my legs. As a result a chunk of speed was taken away, but I still kept close to my average pace. I wasn't feeling good, but it seemed under control.

That is until 18km. It felt like out of no where, but I suddenly found myself immersed in a full acidic bath. The burn wasn't confined to my legs, but managed to slam through my whole body almost instantaneously. Somewhat impressed with the suddenness and degree of my blow up I had to take stock of where I was at.

Only 3km left. That isn't far (despite it feeling like it was). 5th place was opening that gap quickly. I checked over my shoulder and there was a new face in 7th. It was Clarkey, who I've raced many times. He has a habit of closing down over the final stages and he beat me at the cross country last week. Can't let that happen this time.

The pain was only information, it didn't slow me down. What slowed me was the distinct loss of power in my legs and failure in some strides. It took singular focus to force my legs to run with proper strides and not cut them short. I wasn't successful on every step, but got it in most. As a result the damage control was reasonable. I held between 4:28-4:10/km which was way better than the 5:30/km my body was trying to force me into. This held my position.

Finishing 6th overall, 2nd in my age group and with a time 1:24:08. It was a good run. Not my fastest here, definitely not my slowest.


  1. Sounds like it was a painful finish - well done on holding your run together at the end and defending your position!

    1. Thanks Cecilia, interestingly the pain wasn't the issue. Of course I was hurting, it was more that I was fighting my body to actually do what I wanted it to.

  2. Good report Jason - solid time considering the tough final few kms. I reckon the awesome beard is giving you extra strength! It's up there with Will Leer's beard - https://youtu.be/nelwhM-LbmU

    1. Definitely Ewen. The training has been less volume and lower intensity. Basically no race specific interval sessions or VO2max work at all this year so far. It is down to the beard.


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