At the start of 2017 I made a few running goals, mainly focusing on the shorter distances (5/10km) due to the time commitments of training for longer races. However, when the timing for Gold Coast fitted in with my schedule, it seemed like a good opportunity to try for a half marathon PB!
I generally like running fast over shorter distances, with my favourite training sessions being short, sharp repeats (VO2 max training) and the gut running of a 5km race. I’m not such a fan of tempo running which was going to be necessary for a good half marathon time. Therefore, I decided to get a running program written up by the coaches at TRC – which would force me into doing the race specific training required!
So after completing my 9 week training program (logging lots of treadmill kms…), I was feeling pretty good. I had taken all the long runs really easy, not needing any nutrition even on 2hr runs. The threshold sessions were all solid, and I had struggled (usually mentally) through the tempo sets but had gotten the “kms in the legs”.
I was pretty excited for Gold Coast. The marathon is an IAFF Gold Label event, so there was going to be some very fast runners there and the course itself is known for being flat and fast. As the half marathon started at 6am, the chances for cool running conditions were also high. Luckily on the day, the conditions were absolutely perfect!
I started a bit behind the 1hr40min pacers, as based on previous race results and my training pace bands, my target time was 1hr42mins. As per usual in the larger racers there were a few inappropriately placed runners to swerve around in the first km, but then the crowds settled out well. As the sky grew lighter I was feeling pretty relaxed but determined not to go out too fast. There were a few people braving the early morning cold to cheer on the runners which was nice. As the race went on, more people seemed to be supporting on the side-lines and there were a few musical groups too.
Up until the turn (it is an out and back course) I had been craning my neck to see how far the 1hr40min pacers were ahead of me. At the turn I was feeling really good and starting to speed up a bit, gradually beginning to close the distance on them. I have a bad habit in intervals training sessions of trying to catch up to runners ahead of me too quickly, when often gains over a few sets mean that you can overtake those who haven’t paced themselves very well by the last set, without blowing up in the process!
I kept hearing the voices of my training partners in my head telling me that I had 10kms to catch the ‘balloons’ (which the pacers have attached to them so you can see them from a distance) and so just kept trying to slowly bridge the gap. I got closer and closer, but didn’t think I would be able to catch them. However, close to the finish line, I realised that they had actually started ahead of me so there was still a chance of going under 1hr40min on the nett time if I kept digging deep and holding my pace.
A great feature of the race was the finishing chute with a large ‘250m to go’ sign. I’ve been caught before trying to sprint finish too early so it was a good to push really hard at that point. I was so happy with my time when I crossed the line – my first race sub 1hr40min – and very impressed with the quality of the medal and the t-shirt that all the finishers received.
Lots of people also said it was a scenic course – I did notice running over a couple of canals, and it was nice looking down the beach to Surfers Paradise at the end of the race – but I was quite focused on the run and plus I’m spoiled by the beach and river running that I do in Perth for training! All in all, it was a very well organised event and I would recommend it for those looking to do a fast personal best time.
Additionally after finishing the half marathon, it was great to watch the leading marathon runners come past the race precinct – they are amazing athletes!
What worked well:
- Following a training plan, with lots of tempo running so I felt very well prepared on the starting line.
- The prescribed taper was longer than what I had done previously, which I was initially a bit worried about, but the legs were definitely fresh for the race!
- I was in a really good mental state during the race, pretty relaxed for most of it, telling myself it was a 16km ‘jog’ and then Parkrun. As my coach suggested, I tried to run more on feel than being too worried about the km splits.
What I still need to do:
- More strength work and stretching – I’m always about to break down just before tapering. To get faster or increase the load I will need to work on my glutes/hamstrings/calves tightness.
- I’m worried that as this was such a perfect day, that if there is any wind for the next race it will really put me in a bad state mentally!! To beat this PB on a hillier or windier course I’m going to have to get faster…