Part 1: The Final Countdown
The first half of the marathon course is hilly. Slightly hillier than I remembered, but nothing like the training I do here. Ed and I navigated a slow course through the throngs of ill-seeded people. SERIOUSLY LADY- THERE ARE 7500 PEOPLE IN THIS RACE. Did you REALLY think you were in the top 20% or so????? (this rant seems to be a fact of marathoning life, but it never ceases to amaze me). I m was surprised to see Mr 4:15 sticking with us. Uhh hello dude- we're on 3:50 pace here...? (we were pretty much on pace from about the third k). We overheard him saying he wanted to come in halfway at 2:00, which I didn't think was a sensible strategy for a hilly first half! Pacer Liz/experts out there.. any comments before I defame the pacers yesterday throughout the remainder of this report?? Also, if this guy was going for 4:15 GUN time, I think he needed to make that clear, as he would have crossed the line at 5+ minutes. What's the normal rule for such things??
The course was pretty congested to 10kish, and wasn't exactly sparse after that, as we ran to nearly 21k with the halfers. After one drinks station the guy in front of me completely cut me off and I nearly crashed into a van. I was pretty frustrated, and semi-jokingly shook my cup at him. Unfortunately, I misjudged the amount of pressure needed to make a joke, and ended up chucking a cup of water over his back. Not deliberate, but not entirely accidental either. Feel pretty bratty and embarrassed, though it was quite funny, and he laughed too. He was with Mr 4:15, which irritated me, as he should not have been in front of me. As I type this, I realise how irritable I was. I really was having a good time, commenting to Ed that it was so much more fun to be marathoning instead of half-marathoning. But the fact that I was getting so irritable suggests that my hypothesis may be correct. I was not well rested enough to do my best.
I was feeling OK over the hills, even if they were bigger than I thought! I worried about J, even though I knew her H***-power legs would see her through. She needed to get to the Bridge by 8:30 to avoid being bussed, and although we knew she would, I wasn't sure how long it took her to cross the start line, so I kept her in my mind a lot. I knew I wasn't feeling as good as Ed though, and tried to remember this time in Rotorua. I think it felt easy there, but it was hard to imagine speeding up at all, if that makes sense. So, I think my effort levels were roughly equivalent, though I may have worked a little harder, since the first half of Auckland is on balance harder- if only because the hills go down a lot more.
The Bridge was also harder than last time. I think the reason for this is that last time, a half in 2005, I was powering up hills. I expected to be tired, and I got to pass others who are less strong on hills than I am. This time, I'm trying to keep it conservative, trying not to power, so it feels harder, because when we try to pull back, we expect to feel easy. But hills rarely feel easy. They're hills.
After the Bridge, there's some random corner turning to make up distance. Also some overlap, so you can see those who are a bit in front of you. Mr 4:15 was there, sure enough. And, rather surprisingly, Ms 2:20 half. WTF????????? I'll tell you know, we ran into her at 18km, and passed her there. This would have been at about 1:40ish. So 1:45ish, gun time, to be fair. 3k left, and 35 minutes. Hmmm. We said something to her at 18, and she seemed PLEASED to be 15 minutes ahead of schedule. Umm. RIGHT! This woman was supposed to be MY BABY SISTER'S PACER! I was SO glad J didn't find her, because she could have completely ruined her race!
Around 18-19, I started fading. E saw it immediately, and started giving me a pep talk. Technique, shoulders back, watch your gait etc. I know he meant well, but it just upset me. I didn't WANT a pep talk at halfway. I wanted my pep talk to be getting me over the finish line in 3:54:xx, or 3:49.xx, or talking me through the tough ks from 28-33 (those are my worst- bored and sore, but nowehere near done)! But all I wanted at 18k was to nap. My calf was a little tight, and my foot a little uncertain, but if I';d felt strong they'd have been mere niggles. But the thought of turning off the half-M finish, running through, catnapping for half an hour, then cheering my sister in was pulling me strong. I bitched inside. Goddamn work. Goddamnit. Goddamn tired. Too much goddamn walking yesterday. Then I reminded myself that this is a mental game- I remembered one of my super readers (Lana? was it you?) feeling she's lost the mental fight when she first saw a sub-4 hour goal disappear, and I knew I didn't need to lose sub-4, just because I didn't have enough juice to haul way-too-many-pounds of me around 13 more miles at sub-9 pace (sorry for the km/mile changes.. I change the way I think at different times, since I'm basically bilingual now!). And I decided to flip a mental switch. I told Ed, "I was home by 7 every night last week, where I ate sensible, nutritious dinners. I'm not tired, I'm well rested. I slept well last night, and I've had a textbook taper." It didn't work. I was amazed by what a conscious process "mental strength" was for me. I've never called on it before, not in the way I did yesterday. Usually I either go, or give up.
So at half way, when Ed suggested trying to get to 25k by 2:xx (I don't think I ever heard or computed the goal), I told him it was time for him to leave. I knew the only way I could turn myself around was to be with myself, and think only of me. It was hard, and hard for him to do it guilt free, but that was the deal. He looked sceptical when I told him I was still going to be coming under 3:59:59, and said "well, this is pace!" and bounded off. I was irritated (I know he didn't mean it badly, but I didn't need him to lose faith in me too!), and decided I would stick to myself and prove him wrong!
OMG- my computer just CRASHED 2 minutes before pre-sales to BON JOVI went on sale!!! But a frantic call to P and we were in. Thankfully, as by the time I got my baby up and running again, the site was pretty much closed! I'm LIVING ON A PRAYER BABY!