Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Blackmores Sydney Half Marathon

What can I say? In short, it was a brilliant weekend!

I had entered early for the half marathon as Karen from Calwell encouraged me to try it. I thought it would be a fun event to do - running across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, through the city on parts of the famous Olympic Marathon 'blue line' course and finishing at the Opera House!

Karen ended up being a non-starter as work commitments resulted in a lack of training. I knew Luckylegs was running so I made arrangements to share a room at 'The Vibe' which was about 200 metres from the start line. On Saturday morning I drove through light rain to Mittagong. Chickybabe was standing on the steps waving blue and yellow streamers, saying later she'd done this to a couple of other white cars that drove past before me!

After meeting the family (and Jim) we enjoyed a cuppa and two slices of that delicious running shoe birthday cake! Then, it was off to Sydney via an Oxford Street traffic jam and the Harbour Bridge to book into our digs at Milsons Point. We went for a walk down to the harbour foreshore where a wedding was in progress. It was a lovely warm afternoon.

Back at the hotel we arranged to meet Carolyne and Bob for a meal that evening. Unfortunately, at the allotted time, Carolyne wasn't feeling the best so we left her to sleep and wandered up to an Italian place in North Sydney with Bob who told some fascinating stories about his travels by bicycle through North Vietnam.

The wake-up call did the trick at 5am and we were soon breakfasting on muffins, jam and coffee. From the hotel window I could see runners walking down the hill to race headquarters. I was unusually nervous about this race. Not for myself, but for Chickybabe who was hoping to run 'not so slow'. We found the tent which was handing out the 'free early-bird' race singlets and met a few CoolRunners including Eagle, Benny and Tesso.

There was a queue for the baggage trucks and more at the porta-loos. Our line was painfully slow so Chickybabe gave it a miss. I was sitting down when the gun went off! Luckily the porta-loos were close to the start and I began my journey just 55 seconds later.

Around the corner and up onto the bridge I was looking out for CoolRunning shirts and hats. I spotted The Owl and Omni running easily together but they didn't know where Luckylegs was. I finally caught her a couple of minutes later - she was looking good and running strongly! As for myself, I was feeling a bit wonky and lop-sided. On the downhill of the bridge into the city I started to feel a bit smoother.

It was crowded! A bit like a mini City to Surf start. I had to weave a bit trying to find some space to run. At one point I followed 'stroller man' through the throng. I caught and moved ahead of 'black balloon man', who I guessed was the 2 hour pacer. Forerunner Man was not too far short at the 3k mark but soon after he yelled out 'Weak GPS'. As we crossed the Pyrmont Bridge light rain started. I spotted 'red balloon man' (the 1:50 pacer) way in the distance and set about trying to gradually catch him.

The leaders were coming back from the turn and I was quite surprised to see Vince Craig from Canberra in about 7th place. Not far from the turn there was a yell from the sidelines "hey, wombat!". It was Plu, standing there clicking away with his digital camera just as a tropical downpour commenced. What dedication!

I felt pretty good after the turn and finally caught the red balloon group which included Kevin Tiller. Then, coming the other way was a very good looking group - Luckylegs, Omni and The Owl! "Go Chickybabe!" The rest of my race involved trying to get a bit of a gap on 'red balloon man' before the 'killer' Observatory Hill at the 19k mark. Running up this hill I could hear his voice getting ominously louder as he encouraged runners to "work your arms" and "this is the last hill". It was like the grim reapers at the six foot track all over again!

I crested the hill and ran down the corkscrew and onto the Cahill Expressway trying to keep pace with 'red balloon man'. Lulu was cheering madly at all the CoolRunners! I would try and stay with RB man! Just before the 20k sign he accelerated and left me floundering. I had to run the last 1.1k in 3:34 to break 1:50 which was impossible... however, the 20k sign was in the wrong spot and I ended up running a net 1:50:01 and an official 'loo-included' time of 1:50:56.

After finishing, 'de-chipping', collecting my medal and taking a couple of drinks, I walked back up the Cahill Expressway to see how Chickybabe was going. I waited at the corkscrew and it wasn't long before they arrived. Only The Owl and CB - no Omni whose knees had called it quits. I tried to run with them but Chickybabe sprinted down that hill. I had to put in a major effort to catch up and thought to myself "I'm not enjoying this!". I gave up in Macquarie Street and let Owly and CB sprint down that last hill to the finish. They made it in about 2:32 which I thought was excellent on such a hilly course. I was very proud of Chickybabe - her running was out of sight.

In the recovery area we caught up with a number of CoolRunners including TA, The Gnome, Sparkie and the poetic Go Girl. Then, the long walk back over the bridge. We bumped into Bob who had already showered at the hotel after running 1:31 in the half and was on his way back to meet Carolyne who was running the marathon. We all had a late lunch at a cafe in Kirribilli. Carolyne had run an excellent 3:48 in the marathon. Then, it was the long drive home to Canberra via Mittagong and one last piece of moreish birthday cake!


Blogger Anne said...

... great story Ewen. Almost makes me miss running! Just waking up to a drizzly Tuesday on this side of the globe. A bit of early squirrel chasing with Fin and Tutu and now just knocking back my first coffee for the day. The sun is just rising as I drive to work at 7 ... an ominous sign of impending winter days - and no help in the driving stakes!

11:03 pm  
Blogger allrounder said...

top entry Ewen...sounds like you had as good a day as i did!

i can just imagine you trying to keep up with LL at the end...!

5:27 pm  
Blogger Horrie said...

Glad to hear you had a good run Ewen. Pretty impressive pacing to finish 1 second outside your goal time. Maybe you should have been the red balloon man.

7:40 pm  
Blogger Robert Song said...

Great Post.

The Coach must be proud of his student being able to outsprint him.

9:55 pm  
Blogger Gronk said...

Thanks for leaving a message on my blog Ewen. If you scooted past me during the race (as most did, then it was nice to almost meet you ! Great report of your run mate. Gronk :)

5:06 pm  
Blogger CJ said...

It was a brilliant weekend! Good to hear you had a great run.

7:56 pm  
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4:40 pm  

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