Just a few weeks before I was in two minds whether to compete in this half marathon or train through to my goal marathon in April. Two weeks out from the event I decided to race and test my marathon training progress.
Port Macquarie half marathon is in my home town in NSW, Australia and a race I have competed in twice before. It’s a nice three lap course around the river and beach area of the town centre. A three lap race can however be tough mentally, particularly heading out for the third lap. My normal race strategy is to break my race into thirds and a three lap race gives me an easy way to transition through each phase of the race.
The race began under perfect conditions, very light wind, cool conditions for this time of year and overcast clouds. In the early stages of the race there were a number of guys that went out quite hard, with a couple of elite runners in the field they went out very fast and some of the other runners tried to stay with them. I decided to stick to my pre race plan of 3:50 min/km for the first two thirds on the race and then give my best effort. I went through the first kilometre in 3:45 and felt really comfortable, although slightly quicker than planned I felt I had found a nice rhythm and was with a small pack of guys running well and decided to stay at the back of this pack. Next two kilometres were also ticked off in 3:45’s and I decided to stay with these guys. I recognised one of the guys who had beaten me two years ago here and knew he was going to go close to my planned goal time and thought I’d stay in touch even though quicker than planned. First lap felt really good, I had averaged 3:45 min/km for that lap and we had started to overtake some of the guys that had gone too fast early.
Second lap was much the same. Some rain showers started to fall and this was nice to keep us cool. In the second third of the race I try and focus on discipline. And by that I mean staying disciplined to keep my pace even and not go too fast or too slow at any stage. The field had started to thin out now, the guy I mentioned earlier had just got away from me by 50-100m so I just aimed to keep him in sight and stay disciplined on my pacing. I went through 10km in 37:40 and was happy with this. At the 13km aid station I took my gel I had planned to take just before the aid station, it didn’t go down so easy and I almost coughed it up. Took some water at the aid station and then proceeded to cough and spit till the next aid station at 15km I was still running well although starting to fatigue but was able to keep my 3:45 min/km average pace to the end of lap 2.
By lap 3 the race had begun and it’s now time to give my best effort. The field had thinned out considerably and my calculations had me 12th at the start of the third lap. At this moment I focus on giving my best effort. My pace was slightly erratic over this lap and slightly slower than the 3:45’s. Still felt relatively good up until 4km to go and then I had to dig deep. It’s always pleasing to be able to give your best in that moment, when you need to dig deep and are able to find something to stay at goal pace. I was able to do that and finish the race off fairly strong. Over these kilometres I was able to overtake three runners and finish in 79:30. Overall 8th place and 1st in my age group.
Overall happy with where this race puts me in relation to marathon training. 79:30 is my second half marathon under 80 minutes and a new personal best. My last time under 80 minutes was 2001 a few months before my first marathon.
I ran this race in my Gladsoles Trail sandals. They were great to run in again, really light and flexible and allow me to run free. My 5km and now half marathon PB is in Galdsoles so they certainly are as fast as any shoes I’ve worn. Still undecided whether I’ll wear them at Canberra marathon, I’m leaning towards shoes although I’ll explain in a future post why, when i make that decision.
Port Macquarie running festival continues to get better. Much bigger numbers then my race here two years ago and a great atmosphere on course and from the spectators. Always nice to race in your home town too. Look forward to next years event already.