(By the way, I did it. I knew I could. Here is the story of my last few training runs. The half marathon itself will be a separate post.)
I ran the proper distance two weeks prior to the actual half marathon – the training program had an 18-20km run scheduled, so Jeremy and I ran the future course of the Canning River parkrun four times over. The parkrun course finishes about 200m from where it starts, so with that extra bit in between the 5km loops, all I had to do was tack on a tiny bit at the end to do the full 21.1km distance.
The first lap I ran with Jeremy so that I knew the course – I’d not run it before, as it was first plotted out on Map my Run on Jan 1st, and the first test run was the next day while I was back at work. The course had been run by a few friends, but I’d only seen where we decided the start and finish were going to be. The second lap I had the mindset of “OK, let’s see if I can remember where you turn left and right. If I go off course, I’ve got lots of distance to run anyway so I can just run myself back on course.” I ran it and only questioned myself a couple of times, but made it round with no issues. The third loop I was so comfortable running it that for the fourth loop I ran it in reverse direction to see whether I’d get lost.
I looked at the whole distance as “just four parkruns”. It also helped that the Canning River parkrun course is a full 5km loop, so at the finish point I’d be able to stop for the loo if need be, have a gel, refill my water bottles if I wanted and then set off again.
The week before I’d run 18km and pulled up quite tired. I had been testing out my nutrition plan, and had a gel at 0km, 7km and 14km. I also had a packet of Dextro Energy tablets. It hadn’t been enough, and while I finished the 18km with only a few lapses in speed and concentration, I was a bit destroyed at the end. I had run from the Claisebrook Cove parkrun finish line, to the Causeway, along the South Perth foreshore then down the freeway shared path until my Garmin said 9km, then turned back and retraced my steps.
My new plan was to have the gel at 0km, 5km, 10km and 15km, at the end of each loop. I’ve had difficulty with gels before – I’ve been known to gag on them and nearly throw up, so I was a bit apprehensive at first about using them. A while ago I’d got a sizable supply of chocolate Powerbar gels (the only gel I’d successfully used) and I had them on the 18km test. The Powerbar gels have a thicker consistency that works for me. The gels that tend not to work for me all seem to be the ones with a thinner, more liquid consistency.
I had worked out that while the quantity of gels wasn’t sufficient; the gels that I’d used weren’t likely to cause any stomach issues. I went back to Coles to buy more only to discover – after also checking on the Powerbar Australia website – that the manufacturers had discontinued them in Australia. Excellent. They were still making gels, but they were all caffeinated and were either vanilla, black currant or green apple. I am a little wary of caffeinated items that aren’t tea or coffee, ever since a moment of heart palpitation after drinking a wannabe Red Bull energy drink.
On the Saturday before the 20km training run I swung by Total Triathlon and to my relief they had quite possibly the last of the chocolate Powerbar gel supply in Australia. I bought ten packets and two Gu chocolate gel packets to test after the half marathon. My idea was that then I had four for the 20km run and assuming that nutrition test went to plan, four for the half marathon. That would give me two spare jammed into the pocket of my Fuel Belt if it all went to shit on the half marathon and I needed all the help I could get. Then after all this I could test out the Gu gels and see if they were going to work for me as a replacement for Powerbar gels.
We both pulled up fine. Jeremy had just done the 20km, and because he’d run the parkrun course running reverse direction for the 2nd and 4th laps, he hadn’t run that extra bit that had made an extra 300m so tantalising to me. I was quite excited now, I was going to run my first half marathon. And I knew I would be fine.