This is a post I started writing last week, then stopped and replaced it with "Pre-race musings":
"After doing my best to take it easy on Monday and Tuesday, I worked until 12:36am on Wednesday. I slept in, and didn't turn up until 9:30 on Thursday morning, after a quick wee spin on the bike, but by Thursday afternoon I realised that the dodgy tummy I've had for a couple of days had been joined by a wee sniffle and a slightly swollen gland on the left hand side of my neck. My predictable, good old friend, "Kate's pathetic cold."
I get this cold when I get rundown, and I generally don't get sick much at all otherwise (I've had 9 sick days in the past 5 years at this job- though I suppose if you added up all of the days I've worked when I shouldn't have been it'd paint a slightly less healthy picture). It runs basically the same course every time- not many outwards symptoms, but always includes the dodgy tummy and generally at some point will involve me lying down on the bed and feeing utterly pathetic, with a wee bit of a fever, congested sinuses and glands out to "here".
I'm not sure whether I should race, but I want to..."
I stopped at the last sentence when I realised I was being an idiot and that anyone who ever listens to my advice would tell me to listen to my intuition, not my ego.
My pre-race run on Saturday was OK. I made it out of the house, anyway, and huffed and puffed my way through 3 slow kms before running hard for 2:30 at 4:15 pace. Phil and I meandered to Taupo with a car full of tissues, first defence and vitamin c. The dodgy tummy got worse on Saturday night, and the cold wasn't any better on Sunday morning.
"But colds are always worse in the morning" said I. "I think I should race"
So, race I did. The first half went perfectly according to plan (55:15), and I felt pretty good, although I was blowing my nose every 5 minutes, and I could feel that my breath wasn't quite getting through my congested chest. I scoffed at the people going harder than me- the ones puffing and panting to get past in the first 5 or so ks, and when I got to the turn around I turned on the ipod and got ready to drop the hammer and nail out a negative split.
The first part of the second half is offroad. My speed went from safely within the 5:10-5:20 zone to 5:25-5:30. My breathing got worse, and as I twiddled with my Garmin, I saw that my heart rate was peeking into the 180s, although my pace had slowed. The people passing me were now people I'd seen earlier, not just speedsters coming from behind, and it was harder than it should have been to keep on their tails.
My last "lap" (about 6k) was at 5:39 pace. My nose had dried up and was feeling sore, overblowed, and blocked. My chest was tight and I was getting passed on hills. ME! My legs were still OK, I just couldn't make them move. I kept expecting A (who'd started after me) to be the next to pass me.
I saw Phil just before 19k and managed a weak smile. From then on, it was just the typical half-marathon chant of "ten minutes to go...ten minutes to go."
Crossed the finish line at 1:54:30ish (almost exactly the same time as my first ever half in 2004 [UPDATE: It was 1:54:28, which is exactly one second off my PW of 1:54:29!]), with an average HR of 178 (basically 175ish for first half and 180ish for second half, but my splits are much more random).
Now- because I'm supposed to be positive:
- my legs felt strong until about 19k, when the quads started to protest a little. This is great for me in a half-m (usually I'm willing my legs to keep moving from about 16k.. thanks to cycling and Paul for the leg strength)!
- I did run a 1:54 (which sounds horrid to me, but isn't ACTUALLY a bad pace (5:23/k) with a nasty cold
- I did a good job of "being awesome instead". When Phil saw me, I was reasonably upright and my turnover was good. I was doing my cerebal palsy arms, but I ALWAYS do those. I felt the difference instantly when I remembered to pull myself up, focus on my abs, and breathe well
- half marathons are the best. I shouldn't have let myself forget how much I love them- even though this was a bomb, I can't wait for the next one.
- the Taupo half is a great race! Great course, with the rolling hills and mixed terrain. Brilliantly run, with well organised road closures/partial closures and a very effective wave start. I will definitely be back!