Weather conditions looked perfect for this morning's race- fine, chilly. I woke around 7, and was glad of the sleep in. Usually I hate late race starts (I really am a born triathlete), but after wasting too much time reading and mucking around last night, and a few nights in a row of frequent waking, I liked it today!
I had porridge with dates and brown sugar and a cup of coffee, and read a little and checked out some blogs before getting ready. Decided I'd probably be warm, despite the antarctic chill, so wore a new singlet and a thin poly with my snazzy new tights (which I am completely in love with- thank you my wonderful honey!!) This was definitely the right plan - in the end I lined up and raced in the singlet, and didn't once regret it.
P dropped me at the station, and I jogged up to the start. I soon realised that the chilly sunniness was hiding a deceptively strong wind. Crazy strong! (a little stronger than the wind that stopped my plane landing on Friday!) I arrived at the event at about 8:45 (I think?), and soon managed to find my sister (and squeeze behind her in the bag check queue- sorry gods of queueing karma). Went to the bathroom (again...) and then headed outside. I realised I was quite far back, so pushed up to what I thought was a reasonable place (it was- it took me 25 seconds to cross, which should be right for someone finishing near me in a medium sized race. But of course I'd underestimated the sheer IDIOCY of racers. I don't know how many times I've seen posts like this, but if you are going to WALK or PLOD or SHUFFLE the first k of a race then you start at the BACK! It's not rocket science, just common courtesy. And I think race organisers should be more emphatic bout this- even if it's "only" a 10k, there should be some staggering, even if it's just corraling the walkers to the back (they did this in my last half, which was great, even though not 100% effective).
The first k was a little slow, at 4:50 (about right really, given the stupid start, but it's a short k- I always hit it way ahead of pace and freak out, so was expecting a bit faster). I really should have had a decent warm up- definitely getting more reliant on the warm up now that I'm getting more experienced, as I just couldn't make my legs move for the next wee while. Was shocked and appalled to hit 2k in 10:07, but then hit 2.2 in 10:27, so something was screwy there- I did not run 200m in 20s! (the 2k was ours, the 2.2 was the marathoners' 40k mark). From that point on I picked up a bit, and although I was struggling, I started to hit each k marker at under 8:00/pace target time (just that every marker was +0.2, so I hit 4.2 in a little under 20, I think- maybe it was 19:40). I started catching up to and passing some of my "marks", and my legs gradually settled in (I'm jumping ahead, but it wasn't untik 7kish that I actually felt like I was really running!)
I was still under 20mins when I saw the top women returning- I was surprised to see how slowly they were moving and was pretty confused. They didn't look like they should be so far ahead of me- but hey, who am I to judge on appearances? Then I saw a local elite coming up behind them, and realised that there was no way they were in the lead. We figure they probably started with the half, 15 minutes before us! It was heartening to see some seriously fast people ahead of me, and although there were LOTS of ladies (and I knew I'd get a somber look for C who was counting for me and who knew I had top-20 aspirations...), most of them looked like they belonged there. The tail wind swept me around the turn around (23:37!), and before I knew it I'd sailed past the girl I'd had my eye on for the last 10 minutes or so. And the one who'd snuck past us both a little earlier.
Then I ran straight, smack bang into an impenetrable forcefield! I bitch about the wind a lot, but this was something else. My earbuds came out, my eyes watered and my peripheral vision was screwed (fortunately none of the people I was looking out for passed me during that time- I had no waves in me). In hindsight I pushed a bit too hard- I was tireder just after that bit than I was at the end of the race! I saw my sister, who was looking great and gave her a big wave, then a bit later saw C and J. C made exactly the face I'd expected- she'd counted THIRTY FIVE ladies ahead of me!!
I was still making ok time- can't remember when I hit each marker but I knew I was still sub-8:00 pace, and thought I was looking towards a high 47s/low 48s finish. I felt pretty strong, and I was passing a lot more than I was being passed. From 1k to go I ran alongside two speedy women and we took turns edging in front (one of them beat me to the end (just), but my time was a fraction quicker ;-)). My playlist was just perfect- I skipped the third to last song, and when Don't Stop Me Now played, I really was having a ball, and this time I WAS like a rocket ship! We ran up into the stadium (Final Countdown started..) and I was chuffed to see that the course had changed, and the mind-f*ck last 100m had gone, so all I had to do was round the corner and start my finishing sprint. My watch read 46:xx, and I knew I was cutting it fine to finish sub-48. As I neared the end, I saw 47:41, and I kicked into my real sprint, edging out the old dude next to me.
I didn't quite make it. The final sprint took 30s, and I crossed in 48:11 by me, 48:12 by them. Ah well- a 1-minute PR is ok, given my sketchy training, the awful start and the awful wind (I'm sure those two things are worth at least 15s each!!) I didn't quite make my place goals either- had hoped for top 10 F18-34 and top 20 o/all female, and was 13/235(ish) F18-34 (runners) and 22/460(ish) o/all women. So, I beat 95% of people. Not bad :-)
I watched finishers and chatted to mates for aaages. I'd forgotten how much fun this race is, and I love my buds on the Welly-town running scene. My sister came in a little over an hour and I screamed for her to sprint. Well- it's clear that that girl takes after her big sis (or, rather, we both take after our Dad). When I said sprint, she really did- I was chasing her on the other side of the spectators, and she beat me in (she did have a head start, and didn't have spectators to deal with, but WOW!). Talking to her later, I found out she'd really motored up the wee *hill* and had passed everyone in sight. Just like me :-)
Waited around for A who came 9th overall and 6th in her AG in the full, in a smashing time of 3:43. GO A!! We went out for brunch, then I met C (oh crap, I have two Cs now.. )for a quick swim, before dawdling up the hill to write this race report, do laundry and watch Gilmore Girls. I'm feeling a bit more like the old me. I think I might like racing after all :-)
Oh- and guess what else? I counted back to figure out when to start my Akl Marathon sub-4 training plan, and it's LAST week. So will ease into it this week, and start for real next week- yay! But I'll have to base the paces around a 48 10k- that sounds hard!