First half, of the half.

First half, of the half.

If 2015 were to be rated on my running performance, it would have been a mighty lazy year. In my defence, I was injured for a bit, sick for another bit, lazy for most of the time, and changing nappies and sleeping for the rest of the time.

Once the busyness of welcoming a little one into the world was over, literally the next week, I was back on the road. I really wanted to focus on not getting injured again, so I started to build my running distance again, frustratingly slowly.

When scratching online for information on how to build on your running distance, most resources recommend that one only increases your distance by about 10% per week. What they don’t tell you is how hard it is to stick to, especially in the beginning. Nevertheless, I tried my best to stick to it and to date have been injury free!

Once I got back to form, I decided to do something crazy. That something was to enter for my first half marathon. Now for the regular runner one would say, that’s easy — just a little bit of training and you’ll crush it. Well, maybe not so easy for me. Before I started actively training for the race I had done about five 10k races with moderate success and never having longer runs over 8kms. So I think it is fair to say 21.1 km’s it a massive mountain to climb. By the time I had entered, I had only 8 weeks to the race, so lots of time to prep. Maybe not, all the training plans I found online were at least 12 weeks long.

After numerous training runs, four races and life as we know it in between it was race week. The schedule for the week was to do two short runs to taper before the actual race, I got to neither. My family had caught an unwelcome cold, one which I was determined to escape from. I was successful in evading the cold but picked up some stomach cramp bug which knocked me down for most of the week. But without catching a cold, on the weekend race, I would race, no matter what.

On the morning of the race, all went according to plan, I had slept well, found parking in time, the weather was perfect. Now all that was to follow was an incident free race to reach the goal I had set out to complete.

Let the games begin

Following some frustrations with the very slow starts in previous races, I knew that I didn’t want to start the race bunched up for the first 3 km’s or so. Thus, my plan of attack was to start towards the front of the pack and get away at my planned race pace — which was about 7min/km.

Starting at the front of the pack I most certainly achieved my first goal; what a great start. Unfortunately, so great that I was averaging about 1:15min/km faster than planned. In hindsight, that would prove to be my Achille’s heel towards the end of the race.

The first 10km was simply amazing, I was moving through the kilometers pretty quickly. After the first 10km, I noticed I had recorded my fastest 10k ever, I could smell trouble and I had more than half to go. Just over the halfway mark, I could hear the comforting noise of a running bus I had come to know from a few of the races I had completed on the way to the 21k.I knew that if I stuck with them, I would make it. I didn’t even last 1km with them :-) The horse had bolted…Now I was all on my lonesome again.

I could feel the fatigue set in right around the 12km mark. I figured that the only way I would complete the task at hand was by mentally breaking it up and taking it water point to water point. After I passed the first two (just after the 15km mark) with my new strategy — it was working! For me, in the planning leading up to the race I knew that the real test for me would come after 15k’s, a distance I have never crossed.

Around the 17km mark I could feel some hectic cramps rise up my calves a bit of pain in my feet. I decided I would walk the remaining 500m or so to the next water point, little did I know that walking actually makes the cramps worse! Through the remainder of the race, it was a walk-run affair right to the end. But alas I made it to the finishing line! I had achieved one of my first goals for 2016.

After the race, I had to walk what felt like ages to my car, wow what a struggle.The afternoon of the race it felt like I was never going to be able to walk again, never mind run! But on the Monday after the weekend, I was back into my normal stride and rearing to go and tackle another race!

I haven’t decided on what the next race will be, but I am pretty sure that I will do another half marathon in the not so distant future. Maybe this time, I will learn from my past mistakes and pace myself better :-)

Keen to see more details of the race, have a look at the Strava log below for a little more insight into what transpired during the race.

Cheers, Thanks for reading!

—Ryan