Upon entering the Port Macquarie Half Marathon in January this year I knew that training for this race was going to be limited. With some changes to my family dynamic over the last few months training at my preferred early mornings has been problematic. I planned to do as much training as I could and give my best on race day.
Port Macquarie Half Marathon is in my hometown and this was my fourth attempt at the race. It has grown in popularity and professionalism over the past few years and is now a must do destination race on the NSW Mid North Coast.
With my training limited through the start of this year I hadn’t been able to do a real half marathon preparation with a longest training run of 13km for the year. The time I had to train I concentrated on building aerobic fitness and strength by regularly running over hilly terrain near my home.
Last year one this course I ran a personal best half marathon of 79:40. This year I tempered my expectations and decided to aim for around an 85 minute half marathon or 4:02 min/km average pace. With a three lap course my plan was to start somewhat conservatively and try and roll through the field over the back half of the race.
After some wild thunderstorms on Saturday evening, Sunday race day arrived to an overcast but humid morning. Arriving at the start I felt good about my chances of running to my goal time. I positioned myself close to the front of the start line and when under way was conscious of my pacing early. I had planned to start the race with a pace between 4:05-4:10 for the first few kilometres and went through the first km in 3:54. I immediately slowed down and run to my plan, the next few kilometres were 4:09 and 4:06 and felt easy and I was happy to speed up slightly and went through the first of three 7km laps averaging 4:05 min/km. Feeling good and happy with how this lap had progressed.
Lap 2 was much of the same, I concentrated closely on keeping my pace even and not racing. During this lap I started to overtake a number of people that had gone out quite hard and felt good pushing myself through the field. This motivated me to keep my pace consistent and try and run through more of the field but mindful not to over pace my race at this stage, still a long way to go. By the end of the second lap I had started to fatigue but was still happy with my ability to run the 4:05 min/km average pace I was running.
Lap 3 I was still running through the field but less so than the second lap. Still I was happy whenever I overtook a runner. At this time in the half marathon fatigue is starting to build and to maintain my pace I had to give my best effort. There were times between 16-18km where I felt my pace was slowing as I felt fatigued but was happy to see my pace hadn’t slowed and when I dug deep I was able to keep this pace. This was apparent until the last 2km where my pace slowed to around 4:20 min/km, by this time I was satisfied with my race and wasn’t in a position to lose or gain a place on course. I felt pleased to come across the line in 1:25:40 for 14th place overall. Just outside my pre-race goal but happy with how the race unfolded for me.
Out of the four times I’ve run this event this is my slowest time, in fact I was six minutes slower than the same day a year ago. Yet I felt a lot of satisfaction from this race. Most runners know that for the most part you get the results you train for, when you put in the work the results come. Knowing that I hadn’t put in the work and adjusting my expectations accordingly gave this race a different perspective in my mind. I believe I gave my best effort and ran this race to the best my fitness would allow.
Another aspect I am happy with is my ability to run to my plan. Had I started and attempted to run an 80 min half marathon the third and possibly second lap would have been quite different. I’m pleased I was able to pace my race as planned and not react to having many runners in front of me early in the race. I walk away from this race feeling good about the races I have planned for later in the year when I can commit to a better training block.
For now it’s back to putting in more training hours and getting my fitness back to a place that allows me to run my best times. As always that’s a journey and not a destination and my fitness will build over the next few months.
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