01 February 2009

2006 Auckland Half Marathon - Race Report

One more re run from the old Blog. This one is the race report on the 2006 Auckland Half Marathon, to date still the only race of this distance if run in. Check out the previous post also for the build up to this race.

After first setting my sights on the Auckland Half 18 months earlier, the day had finally come after much frustration and uncertainty along the way. It was a 6.30am start down at beautiful Devonport on Auckland's North Shore. I was running it with one other work colleague and we caught one of the buses the organisers put on from our local bus station. The bus was full of excited runners and trip to Devonport took about 20-30 minutes dropping us off right by the start. We dropped our bags at the bag drop and headed for the start line.

Memories of the pre start are pretty much limited to the long ques at the portoloos and thinking how are all these people going to make it to the start line in time. I fortunately found a quick moving que however my mate had a longer wait and we of course got separated. I will also remember the images of men standing at the waters edge relieving themselves straight into the harbour in order to avoid the long waits for the portos - note to self not to go swimming there on the day of a marathon!(I'll also say it wasn't just the men who took the beach over the long waits on land either!).

I took the chance to do a few stretchs while waiting for my mate some 50 meters back and to the side of the start but he was not to show up. The gun went. I was not too worried about starting near the back of the field as I had my race chip and it was the chip time that I would be taking as my race time in any event. Expectations / hopes were for a sub two hour run but I was really thinking that a 1:55 would be a realistic time also.

Here's the course.

As you can see the course takes us Northwards from Devonport toward Takapuna before crossing the northern motorway and turning south heading for the Harbour Bridge before ending at Victoria Park in the city. It is a predominantly flat course with the only notable climb being the harbour bridge.

So I started near the back and remembering the advice of my more experienced colleagues I just took it pretty slow from the start for the first couple of miles. I soon got into a good steady pace and I was feeling comfortable though the first hour. I don't really know what pace I was running at and I hardly picked up any distance markers either so it was pretty hard to judge how I was doing pace wise. I just had to go on feel and from my training experience in which I usually ran around 5:20 to 5:30 k's. I wasn't consciously running any quicker than I would normally so I was guessing the first 10k would be covered in at worst say 55 minutes.

At around the half way point my left foot was feeling quite numb and I stopped to stretch my calves. I must have lost about five minutes here and I was definitely a little concerned about the time that I was losing and whether the foot would hold up enough to get me across the bridge and to the finish.

I re joined the race, we crossed the motorway, ran past the netball courts and turned south back towards the city. It was comforting to have reached this point knowing that with each stride I was now actually getting closer to the finish instead of running away from it.

At around the seven mile point when I looked across and saw my mate I'd been separated from earlier. We ran together for the next mile or so chatting about how we were each holding up. Neil was in good shape and gradually I let him go and by the time we got to the bridge I was starting to lose sight of him.

Running over the harbour bridge was an experience. Definitely something that not many people ever get to do. I drive across the bridge virtually every day so the view was nothing new but you certainly get a different perspective. The climb up the bridge would be almost a kilometer and coming at the 14 K mark it was reasonably testing. I had done a fair amount of hill work in training though and got to the top quite comfortably.

The foot was holding up well and though I felt some slight numbness it didn't seem that this was going to be a problem. Down the other side of the bridge and we still had over five k's to go but I knew this area well, it is all flat, and I didn't expect it to pose any problems for me. I was feeling okay and was still running at a comfortable pace that I felt I could sustain.

Coming past the Westhaven marina we had about four K to go and I was starting to try and lift the pace knowing that it would soon be over. I finally saw a distance marker at 19 K and I thought that with only two K to go I could definitely afford to pull out all stops now and put the foot down so to speak. I managed to find some extra speed in the legs. I was passing quite a few runners at this point and still feeling okay. I eventually ran out of gas with around 500 meters to go, slowing to a jog but by that stage I was just soaking up the atmosphere of the finish and thinking to myself that I had made it.

It was a sweet feeling and the relief was enormous. I had put so much time and effort into preparing for this and as I was rounding the last corner near the finish my emotions almost overcame me as I realised I had accomplished something that had for so long seemed so far away.

I was very happy and a bit surprised with my time of 1:49. Had it not been for a stop to stretch it could easily have been sub 1:45.

Here's some picture of me finishing.


Ewen February 1, 2009 at 9:01 PM  

That's odd Bruce - for me I get the course looking like it's in the South Pacific Ocean!

You did well - 1:49 is a good time, as is the 1:45 you should have run.

Your boys are looking good for tonight - 181 should be just a bit of batting practise.

Bruce February 1, 2009 at 11:10 PM  

that is weird, I'm pretty sure I was running on the road. We're three down already i see for not many. Wouldn't put it past our boys to lose it from here!

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