The Fremantle Half Marathon was signed up to as a whim by Jeremy and I. His three half marathons had all been 1h57mXXs, and that was Jeremy’s indicator that he was up for a PB if he put some welly into it. My indicator was how wonderfully I’d pulled up two weeks beforehand in Sydney. I really had felt like I could have run the full distance again. It was such a positive experience that I knew if I concentrated on keeping to a specific pace (6m15s) I would definitely PB, particularly because Fremantle is a flat course, unlike Perth City to Surf and Sydney.
With this race I wanted to test out a theory regarding hydration – I’m normally very diligent about drinking before the race but I suspected that it was the reason that I was always heading for the portaloo on course. This race I knew wasn’t going to be in such hot conditions so I could risk just reasonably hydrating the day before and sticking to my standard cup of tea in the morning with my weet bix, milk and a banana.
I made up a bottle of High 5 Zero and filled my Fuel Belt bottles to wear during the race but my cup of tea really was it for pre-race hydration. Because I drank some of the Zero in the car, I only carried three Fuel Belt bottles, which means all up I was carrying around 550mls of water. Logically I know I could probably make it through the race just on the water stations, but I love being able to run past the water stations at first and just rely on my bottles. Also, I like always having access to water when I want it, and not relying on the convenient spots on the course for the organisers.
I think that my nutrition strategy needs some work if I have had less fluid before the race. For the last four half marathons I’ve used the same nutrition schedule; a gel at 0Km, 5km, 10km and 15km. Logically I recognised at Fremantle that despite my intended increased effort I would probably require less gels than I did at Busselton, because I have noticed that despite running relatively similar times at all three events I have been increasingly less tired after each one. After Busselton, I slept quite soon after. After the City to Surf I went to the pub with Jeremy and the other parkrunners and then when we got home we had a nap. After Sydney I settled in at the Suncorp tent, ate some food, waited for the marathoners to finish and we went back to Ben, Simon and Katryna’s place and swam in the pool and lazed in the hot tub. We didn’t get back to the hotel until at least 2pm, and I didn’t bother napping then.
During the race the gel at 10km didn’t feel necessary, but I had it anyway. The 15km gel probably needed more water with it, but I had a slight stitch in my side and that was it. My long training runs around 14-16km I’ve just been having some Dextro Energy tablets and that is it. I ran my PB 10K with no gels in my system, just running off breakfast. I think I might go out and try and do a hard 20K training run and only have gels at the 10km mark to see what happens. My 0/5/10/15 strategy was born of a very bad final 4-6 km of an 18km run, so maybe I should test myself out and see how I do without the extra glucose. Perhaps some of my extra bellyfat can be my energy source.
Back to the race. The start of the race was on the grass out at South Beach, then you all get funnelled onto the footpath through the dunes. It was packed, and if you weren’t up the front you were not going to get out fast. Thankfully we all sprang free after a while at a carpark and headed down the road. I hadn’t gotten far into my first lap when the frontrunners came heading back towards everyone. It doesn’t matter how often I am overtaken by faster runners, it is always amazing. Some people find it demoralizing, and I suspect that if I was ever expected to be a fast runner I would be too, but to me, the fasties are a whole other species. Wilson Kipsang just recently managed a 2h03m23s world record marathon run at Berlin. That’s my dream time for a half marathon! My standard parkrun barometer of my ability is whether I manage to get above 50% in the WAVA age grading. Anything above 50% and I am truly chuffed.
I managed to run for a while with a woman, Diane, who was training for the ING New York Marathon. She and I had matching footfalls, so we ran in rhythm for a while, just moving along. You loop back on the course multiple times, up and down the same long road. There is a bit of a rise to the corner of one part of road, and then there is a gentle rise further up the road after the corner. The first time I went up the hill I was disappointed to realise that my intended pace was out by 30 seconds, and then I realised that the roadway was a hill and I didn’t feel so bad. Once I know that there is a hill, and I can expect it, I don’t have any problem with them.
With all the doubling back on yourself you can feel confused as to which way you should be going, because you do loops, then you head back into the start/finish area at the 10km mark and head back out again, then you do another few laps and go back to the start area. Because of the storms a few weeks ago the course had changed from the published map, so you couldn’t really memorise the course and the instructions ahead of time, so I relied on the marshals to steer me right. The instruction at one corner was something like “people doing their 3rd turn go right, finishers go left”, and I couldn’t remember whether it would be my third or fourth turn so I called out “I’m at 16km, what is that then?” and the marshals directed me right. Damn it. I recall yelling out “But surely 16km is long enough for a half marathon?!”
One small thing I noticed was that I now tend to get more hot now that I’m running faster. At Busselton evidently the temperatures were a bit high, but I didn’t really notice it because I wasn’t running fast. At parkrun and running at home I’ve noticed that certain clothes mean that I overheat, so this time I ran in a singlet and running shorts, instead of a t shirt. Jeremy and I had discussed before we left the house which hats we were wearing. I’d washed a visor to wear but Jeremy could not find his so I gave it to him and grabbed the Road ID hat. Jeremy said that he had stopped wearing them because the dark fabric got too hot, but I hadn’t had that issue so I said I was happy to wear it. Around kilometre 12 I noticed that my head was getting way too warm, and even though I was throwing the remainder of my water cups on my head it wasn’t fixing things. I ended up clipping it to the back of my number belt for a few kilometres so that I could cool down. (I’ve since bought a few more Road ID visors instead of caps).
On the whole I was happy with my run. My only body issues was the stitch, which I ran through, and at no point did I need to go to the toilet on course (hooray!). When I finished I’d managed 2h13m28s which knocked 11m11s off my previous personal best time, and I’ve learnt a few things as well.
I’ve signed up to 12WBT again for the November-February round, because they have an advanced half marathon program and I have a new running goal – Wilson Kipsang’s world record marathon time. Just for a half marathon instead. If I put in some serious training and not just run 12-20km on a Sunday as my sole run, restructure my nutrition strategy and lose the last of my bellyfat, given good conditions on the day in Busselton I think that goal is completely do-able.