Sunday, July 26, 2015

Run Melbourne Half Marathon

Over the past couple of years I've got a real buzz from running. I've gone through periods of regular training and had times when I don't do any for a while. So I decided to motivate myself by entering a half marathon. This was a great idea as it has kept me focussed on training and taken me from the 10 km runner to the longer distance.

My history as a runner is fairly recent. In fact 5 years ago, as an unfit smoker, the thought of running even 1 km would have been daunting. I started with a build up to 5 km, found that I enjoyed running and moved up to 10 km. I then had a go at the Puffing Billy, Great Train Race which I found too hard because of the hilly terrain. Perhaps that put me off running a bit. I caught a chill after the first time I ran against the train, and stopped training for about 2 months, maybe more.

I guess once I'd completed the Great Train Race, it was like there was nothing more to aim at as I hadn't set a further goal. I think that even as a casual runner it is important to set a goal, whether it be to do with time, distance, weight loss or some other random factor. Anyway, this year at the start of May I ran Puffing Billy again, and after it I immediately set myself the challenge of raising the bar. Puffing Billy is 13.5 km, and I entered the Run Melbourne half marathon of 21.1 km.

I trained sporadically after Puffing Billy, but managed to get myself comfortable at 15 km and perhaps a bit more. My longest run before today had been 19 km, but I only managed to go just over 17 km without stopping. So it was with some trepidation that I rocked up to the start line of the Run Melbourne half marathon this morning. The start was a bit of a shambles. I started in the third wave of runners, and we were lined up on the east side of St Kilda Road, opposite the Art's Centre which is where the race was to begin. We had to wait for the the faster runners to set off and then cross the road for our own start. However, by the time the first 2 waves had been set off, the fastest runners were doubling back up the road towards us,  and my wave of runners found we couldn't cross the road. It took a while, but eventually we started, about 20 minutes after the lead runners. No matter, the timing for the race is based on a chip, so everyone gets a time based on when they started compared to when they finished!

An early start, runners milling around Federation Square before the 7 am start

The race started at 7 am, while I crossed the start line about 7.20 am. However, the morning started for me at 5 am. There was no public transport early enough to get to the event, so I drove to within a couple of km of the run start. After the walk into town I waited around for the start, soaking up the atmosphere in Federation Square before the start of my first half marathon. There were lots of stalls representing different charities and organisations which partner the race. I was running for the charity Beyond Blue which promotes the issues of anxiety and depression, to some extent invisible illnesses which mean a lot to me

After the starting hiccup, running in a big group was really helpful, and was thoroughly enjoyable. The route took 2 laps around the south of the CBD and Botanical Gardens, and I found the first half, about 11 km, fairly comfortable. At about 13 km things began to get tough, and by the 16 km I had slowed considerably. I stopped at a drink station and even had to walk a little around the 18-19 km mark, but all told I had a good first effort.

Tired, but happy to have completed my first half marathon
I was hoping to get inside 2 hours 15 minutes, but ended just outside at about 2 hours 18 minutes, which all told means that I ran at a pace of about 6 minutes 30 seconds. I would very much like to improve this time, and I believe that if I worked towards it I could get inside 2 hours 10 minutes, and maybe even faster. So I'm setting myself a new goal of breaking 2 hours 10 minutes in an official half marathon. The question is which will be my next half marathon? I'd like to run 2 a year from now, but I doubt I'll be doing another in 2015, so I'll be looking for a new run in autumn 2016. Any suggestions?
A beautiful morning for a run, which went past Flinders Street Station

The view from Elizabeth Bridge, the start of the Race
Degraves Street, a good spot for a post run coffee

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