Blackmores Sydney Half Marathon
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.