First off let me say that I went into this half marathon SUPER excited but incredibly nervous! As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, my Honolulu Marathon training (which this race was on the way) was disrupted when I was told not to run. So I’ve been working my butt off trying to get as race ready as I could – and this race was a bit of a halfway marker to see if I’ve been doing the right thing.
My travel plans meant that I flew in super early Saturday morning (about 12:05AM) and fly out after the race in the afternoon Sunday – so it was a bit of a fly in/fly out with no plans other than get to the start line on Sunday morning & visit the expo on Saturday.
If you haven’t been to Auckland, it’s the largest NZ city (not the capital) and is situated on an amazing harbour with the greenest water!
The expo was located on the Viaduct, and wasn’t too overwhelming for a big city marathon. Packet pickup was easy – with seperate sections for the 5K, 12K, Half Marathon and Marathon. As you walked through to the expo side your chip was checked to make sure there were no issues on race day. What was great was the taping that was provided by one of the sponsors – free to their customers, but a donation for those who weren’t – I was able to get my foot taped rather than me trying to wrangle it later on!
I had a look around and tried on some of the clothes from the main clothing/shoe sponsor Asics. For some reason then I decided to try on the event shirt I got with my registration (size M) and I couldn’t get my arm through the sleeve! Ugh oh!! I thought about purchasing an event shirt and tried on an XL and even that was too small! Sigh. I quickly walked back through to runners resources and enquired about swapping shirts. The poor volunteers! They mentioned that this was the #1 issue of the expo. I figured I’d probably use the shirt as part of my intended race shirt blanket if I couldn’t wear it.
The event organisers were super proactive about the issue and communicated that we could change (unworn) shirts after the race at the finish village. I ended up with a 2XL for a nice casual fit (which fit like a M/L).
The rest of the day I caught the ferry over to where the start would be – in Devonport – to explore a part of the city that I’ve never been before! The rest of the day was spent exploring two volcano cones and riding around a seaside town by bike! It was so much fun, and I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t using all my energy pre-run!
RACE MORNING!! I was lucky enough to book a hotel within walking distance to the ferry terminal, so I didn’t have to get up super early (phew!). Armed with my myriad of arm bling – watch, road ID and wristbands for pace and ferry travel, I boarded the ferry quite quickly and headed over to the start line for an incredible sunrise!
Now, I was super lucky that I thought biking around the area was a good idea because I knew it wasn’t going to be flat. But it still surprised me how hilly the course was, and I honestly felt like I was so unprepared for the race about 3km in! How could I have thought that running a half was a GREAT idea??
After the crowds thinned out I felt that my body was running on autopilot. My SweatTracker coach had me on intervals of 9 mins run/1 min walk and I was eager to get to the cutoff point (before they bussed you further up the course). When I made it I felt that I could relax a little bit more, I was on track for a 2:40 half!
Then I hit the bridge.
Yep, it was about 14km in and a steady, steep incline. The race was actually running a Blitz the Bridge competition that the fastest time up every half hour won prizes. I swear some people held back and bolted up that bridge!
By this stage I decided to not push it and walk up the entire bridge as my foot was completely numb by this stage. It was uncomfortable but not painful, which was an improvement on what I was feeling 5 weeks ago! After a slight downhill from the bridge there was another uphill, then finally downhill and flat to the finish. Since we were in the city there was more supporters and even sponsors handing out jelly snakes (YESSSS!!!). Since I walked up the bridge it threw my pace out but I wasn’t too bothered, I really just wanted to finish in less than 3 hours so I could get back to the hotel and check out in time!!
I wouldn’t have picked that the flattest part of the course would have been the hardest, but it was. With every step I could feel the numbness in my foot (is that a weird thing to say?) and by the end I was doing a 4 mins run/1 min walk then 3 mins run/1 min walk ratio. I made it to the finish in 2:51:12 which was under the 3 hours and I was thrilled!!
So overall how did I feel? My foot held up, although numb but what I was really surprised with was how incredible my legs felt. I was less cramped than I had been for any of the other stand-alone halves that I had run this year! All that hard work had really paid off!
I’m now much more confident going into the Honolulu Marathon, and am combining pool and gym work with a long run to make sure I’m as prepared as I can be!