Fremantle Half Marathon

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.


Last year I did the Women’s Triathlon mini tri (150m/5k/1.5k). I chose the mini because it had the shortest swim leg. The bike and run legs of the long course triathlon appealed, but the swim in that is 750m, and if I did that I would be risking the life of a poor surf lifesaver or another competitor.

As you might have read, I also signed up to the Triathlon training course at Challenge Stadium. In November 2011 I started Couch to 5K to learn to run in preparation for the course start in the first week of January 2012, combined with a bit of swim training.

Jeremy was hugely supportive about the training course and drove me up to the event when the big day came. I didn’t do particularly well when it came to final placings but I completed the whole event and enjoyed it greatly. My bike leg was majestically quick but I was let down by my run  (which became a walk after I took off too quick from transition) and my swim is best described as suboptimal.

I kept my running up throughout 2012; particularly after the Claisebrook Cove parkrun started up. I signed up for the Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body Transformation to lose the extra 10-11 kilos that I had gained. The 12WBT program took me to running a half marathon.

My swimming fell by the wayside however; when I was injured I headed for the pool but other than that I was land based.

This year’s participation in the triathlon was not nearly as planned. I signed up to do the same mini triathlon the Tuesday before event and had managed a total of three swim sessions in the month beforehand. The last of the swims was Jeremy and my first session with our swim coach, and that was what made me decide that I had to do the mini tri again.

My swim was about as suboptimal as last years, but I did manage to recover quite well after being smacked in the head a few times by someone who started the event mid pack doing breaststroke. Again I wasn’t last but the swim did take it out of me and I think my transition was a bit long as a result.

I absolutely flew on the bike. My bike legs both years have involved me sitting on the right hand side of the course with a perma-yell “Passing on your right!” and I pulled into transition and threw my poor lovely bike on the rack while I ditched my helmet and shoes to put on my trainers.

My now-standard pissbolt out of transition wasn’t followed this year by a desperate push to get through the publicly visible section before I collapsed with a coronary. I ran, and ran! Half marathon for the win!

Coming back towards the finish chute I was overtaken by a runner and was gaining on another. The one I was gaining on overshot and nearly ran past the opening of the finish chute. The runner who overtook me grabbed her by the shoulder to haul her back through the chute. I belted past both of them down the chute and put in a final push to pass someone else in the chute.

I flew over the line with my right arm out grabbing my finishers medal with a “Thank you!” then slowed down to a stop near the water station and grabbed my Shotz cup and a banana. Jeremy wandered over with a huge grin and commented on my neat bit of opportunism in the finishing chute. He had grabbed some photos of me as I’d come in and out of transition and showed me them on his phone.

I headed out of the finish area and had to go back in again because I’d forgotten to give back my timing chip. I walked back out to Jez and was asked by Pip O’Connell the commentator for a chat.

Jeremy and I wandered about a bit to spectate and cheer on some people we knew from parkrun who were doing the short (300m/7k/3k) and long course (750m/20k/5k) options. At one point he wandered off while we were near the finish chute, then came back and said that I “shouldn’t bother checking the results”.

I’d gone into the event knowing that given last year’s results my bike leg was going to put me in good stead for an age group place if I could keep it together on the run. Last year I was lacking the endurance to be able to run hard off the bike even for just 1.5km. This year I’d run a half marathon so running 1.5km at a (for me) super quick pace was child’s play.

The way Jeremy delivered that bit of news told me that he was messing with me. I was hoping for top 5 in my age group but he announced that I’d come third.


Better than that, I’d come 9th overall. At no point had I expected to do as well as I did overall, partly because in the first wave of mini tri swimmers there were a few Australia team triathlon suits on some 12-14 year olds and those kids are quick!  (I’ve got a feeling I should note down their names for when they hit the big time and the Olympics I can proudly say that I’ve been beaten by that medalist!)

At one point in the morning Jeremy and I declared that having now come third in my age group in a triathlon I had to step up and really nail my swimming this winter because then I could go and do the long course next year. Now I’ve got my run leg sorted, I need to work on my swim. It is by far my weakest leg, and over a longer distance I’ll find it more debilitating unless I improve my endurance in the water.

So: I now declare the Year of the Swim has to start. I should probably buy that anti-chlorine shampoo.