Saturday, September 28, 2013

Blackmores Sydney Half Marathon

Another good race! I last ran the 'Blackmores Half' in 2009 as a preparatory run for the Melbourne Half. I ran 1:46:10 back then and three weeks later in Melbourne, 1:43:00. Sydney is a great course — all the races (including the marathon) start at Milsons Point, run over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, then meander through the city before finishing at the Opera House. This year I was also planning to run Melbourne as a goal race but unfortunately failed to get my entry in on time. Melbourne was to be a 'time challenge' against Canute, who is running the Robin Hood Half this weekend with the challenging goal of sub-1:40.

My preparation was less than ideal. A week after the Wagga Trail Half I came down with a bad case of flu — I was off work (and running) for five days. Jogged 45k the following week, culminating in a quite satisfying 'run by feel' Canberra Times 5k — 23:56 and 4th M50-59. The next week totalled 59k with a 13k 'long' run which ended up being quite a struggle. My goal for the Blackmores Half was to run with a similar strategy used for the Wagga Trail Half: start easy and finish strongly. I wanted the race to be an enjoyable hard training run rather than a desperate all-out effort that left me with a 3-week recovery period.

After catching the bus to Sydney I checked in at the Vibe, picked up my race pack and caught up with Fiona (Half) and Jarrod (Marathon) for a late lunch/coffee at the Metro Cafe in Hyde Park. It was a lovely afternoon! I wandered down to Chinatown in the early evening for a feed of rice and vegetables. Watched a little footy back at the hotel and set the alarms for the ungodly hour of 4:00 A.M. (the race start was 6:15). Caught a very crowded train from Town Hall and arrived at Milsons Point just before six. I queued up at the porta-loos, not too worried if I missed the start. I didn't think I'd miss it by 13 minutes! I was caught up in the 'C-corral' group so the first 600 metres before we turned onto the bridge were quite crowded.

I was running by feel and once over the 'hill' of the bridge was actually feeling quite smooth. Passing lots of slower runners is good fun! The course was crowded but I was never badly impeded and happy to run wide on some of the turns to find some vacant pavement. It was a beautiful cool, sunny Sydney morning — superb views in all directions. At 9k near the NSW Art Gallery I caught up to the 2:10 pacing group. I was wearing the cushioned Hokas and they felt great — especially on the downhills where I slipped it into the angel gear and let the shoes cushion the impact. I kept telling myself to hold back until 15k. Running a half marathon off insufficient long runs is rather daunting! There was a testing little hill running back onto the freeway following the turn in Ultimo but after that the last 5k was nice and flat. I actually felt a little stronger in the last 3k than I did at Wagga (no doubt due to the easier course). It was a fantastic sight running beneath the bridge, looking across Circular Quay to the Opera House. Finally a little ramp up to the forecourt and a modest sprint to the finish arch. 1:52:23. Fun race! My 5k splits were quite even (26:18, 26:41, 26:38, 26:51, 5:23 + 32) and after a week I've recovered well. If you get a chance, run this race — it's a good one.

Under the Sydney Harbour Bridge with 1k to go!
Sprinting to the Opera House. I may have lost in a photo to #4267

25 Comments:

Blogger Jog Blog said...

Well done Ewen. I love the Syd marathon/1/2marathon. What's next for you?? BTW, we are over due for post Sat run coffee. Let's organise :)

8:02 pm  
Blogger TokyoRacer said...

Those are big shoes!

It's true - passing people is so much more fun than being passed. Makes starting further back a good strategy.

9:07 pm  
Blogger speedygeoff said...

I cannot wait to see your speed in a downhill marathon in the big shoes.

9:33 pm  
Blogger Black Knight said...

This is the right spirit to enjoy a race. And the finishing time is however good. And now I go to watch in tv the Wallabies against the Springboks.

12:59 am  
Blogger Raina said...

Love the race pics!! Sounds like a super event-- except for the porta-john situation :/
Very jealous you got to see Fiona and Jarrod! Someday...
Nice racing :) Glad you are over the cold.

2:37 am  
Blogger Thomas said...

Woah, those shoes really look big! Oh, and well done on the race, those splits are incredibly even, well paced!

7:16 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks Liz. Next 'big' goal race would be the track 10,000 early next year. Yes, very overdue for coffee - must get Ruth onto it!

Bob, yes they're high - good for looking over the crowd ;-) If they were 90g lighter they'd match my Brooks Racer STs and be perfect for racing HMs.

Speedygeoff, good idea. I should sign up for that downhill marathon in NZ that Bron raced, or the St George Marathon in Utah.

Stefano, Springboks 28, Wallabies 8! You weren't cheering hard enough!

Raina, yes, the organisation is fantastic. They had over 100 porta-loos - my problem was arriving at the start too late.

Thanks Thomas. They're big shoes, but similar in weight to my other training shoes. Maybe 10g heavier than the Asics Nimbus.

10:46 am  
Blogger Luckylegs said...

I've worn thos shoes too, but the height gave me vertigo!!

12:57 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Haha LLs, that's funny! Your head would be in the clouds. That's why Ruth likes them ;-)

9:07 pm  
Blogger strewth said...

Sounds like a fun weekend and a great race. Well done! I'm up for coffee over the next couple of weekends - two more over 32km runs before NY!

9:10 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks Strewth. I'll let you and Liz organise something - perhaps this Saturday? I'd probably jog the Parkrun again so 10ish or later?

3:47 pm  
Blogger Janene said...

Way to go ET. Glad you are out there enjoying it!

6:16 pm  
Blogger Mark Watson said...

No shame at all coming second to #4267. She has a higher kick, looks a touch younger and is better looking. Another super race report - well done.

7:07 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks J. Wish you were out there too.

Definitely better looking, more than a touch younger, and with much better form. Great observations Mark.

7:56 pm  
OpenID canute1 said...

Well done. You are pacing your recovery from the DVT well.

I didn’t run well in the RH half – though not too much worse that my prior training times had indicated was likely. Despite yesterdays’ run, I have actually had a fairly productive (northern) summer, and the target of 1:40 is still there to challenge both of us to greater things – though my main focus will be on the full marathon next year.

4:00 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks Canute. Good to hear that your race on Sunday has encouraged you to keep after the 1:40 barrier. I hope to race (and train for!) a number of HMs next year with the same goal in mind.

8:14 pm  
Blogger RICK'S RUNNING said...

Hi Ewen, good to hear you got over the flu and enjoyed your 1/2
Its amazing how even a week off training can effect fitness levels!

9:45 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks Rick. Very true for me - I can notice a drop in fitness after 4 days off. Nice going with your 100 mile week. Keep on running!

9:17 pm  
Blogger Run, Karla, Run! said...

Sounds like a fantastic race! Love seeing race photos of you! I've only been to Sydney once, but did a good bit of running all over the city. LOVED running there. Great job hitting all those 5K splits. Super even and impressive, as always.

1:35 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks Karla. Yes, Sydney has some great running areas - lots of trails and bushland close to the water. Hope you're feeling 100% healthy for Toronto - that was bad timing!

10:45 pm  
Blogger trailblazer777 said...

Well done! I've never seen the Sydney Harbour Bridge (other than in photos and on TV/the net) in person, and was watching the TV footage of the marathoners running over it yesterday, they were calling for people in WA to go run for the state team there this year, but I'd just done city to surf marathon in Perth, and was signed up for Melbourne, and the cost would be very high to go there, plus the hills etc made me think I would be better just to focus on Melbourne, but I would like to get a pair of Hokas (to look after my knees on the concrete) soon, and maybe one day get to run over that iconic bridge. Even splits, and always good when you are passing people. Those Hokas are getting more popular over here now especially since the Kep Ultra took them on as a naming sponsor. Jane T. a big fan of them among many people I know who now swear they are a good shoe. So if the past history is any guide you should have been on track for at least a 1.49 in Melbourne. I ran 1.49 for the first half of my marathon in Melbourne, although my splits were very uneven... Good pics, and I see you have the 6 foot track shirt on, it must be a pre-2011 one? These bushfires at the moment are getting a bit close to the Katoomba area, hope they don't get to there that would be a terrible tragedy if they get that far... Good to see you are still ticking over. Keep at it, and keep identifying some new goal races and going after them.

8:08 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Hi Jonathon, that's amazing about having never seen the bridge. You'd enjoy the half or marathon. The marathon course is about as flat as you can get in Sydney now - still hillier than Melbourne, but pretty good.
The Hokas are great, but quite a different feel to other shoes. If they were 300 grams instead of 390 they'd be perfect for racing. I notice the weight but they're great for long runs, especially on bitumen. Might see you at GC next year.

8:04 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Jonathon, I forgot to mention the 6' shirt is from the 2009 race. 2010 was my last Six Foot. I'm no longer qualified, so I'd have to re-qualify if I wanted to run again (major pain as I don't like long races apart from 6').

6:28 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great race report and your photos are brilliant! I love the way the course loops around so you get to see both the faster & slower runners at various points along the way. Really lovely to see you - hope we catch up at heaps more races!!

9:57 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks Fiona - great to meet you too!

BTW, only just noticed this comment was waiting for publishing. I have a setting on my account that says comments on 'old' posts need to be approved. Sorry about that.

7:03 pm  

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