On Sunday I participated in Run Melbourne, a half marathon race around the city. The run was part of my training for the Sydney Marathon, which I'm running in 8 weeks (yikes!) I was going to use this race to see if I was on track to run my goal of a 4-hour marathon, which meant I had to run it in around 1 hour 55 minutes. (That time is based on this marathon pace calculator, which gives you predictions for different distances based on the intensity of a 4 hour marathon. Obviously it's just a prediction and not an exact science, but at least it gave me something to aim for.)
|Waiting at the start|
My support crew (Andy) and I were up at 5:30am Sunday morning so that I could have time for a decent breakfast before the race started at 7:15am. I had my new favourite porridge recipe from Deliciously Ella, a food blog that I love, which a focusses on plant-based, whole food recipes. The porridge is made with coconut milk instead of regular milk, and has bananas, almond butter and coconut oil mixed in, and I topped it with cacao nibs and blueberries. SO good.
Andy dropped me at the start, outside the Arts Centre on St. Kilda road, at about 6:45am. Best thing about this race start was that the Arts Centre was open and so you could use the toilets pre-race, much better than other races I've done with limited portable toilets. It was still dark and pretty cold when I arrived but the sky was clear and the weather report predicted sun and a high of 16 degrees.
I knew that to run it in 1:55 I would have to run at a pace of 8:46 per mile (or 5:27 per km). My first mile was really slow, over 9 minutes, mainly due to the amount of people in the race who were all running a bit slower than I wanted to run. But it was a good warm-up and at least made sure that I didn't start out too quickly. The route started with a loop around Flinders Street station, and then back to the Arts Centre, heading south on St. Kilda Road towards Domain Road. I was able to pick up the pace after the first 5 kilometers so that I was on track to meet my target. The route was two laps, so for the first half it was a bit disheartening seeing all the kilometre markers for the second lap, but that was the only criticism of the route. Otherwise it was very scenic, taking in the the Shrine of Remembrance as the sun rose, and then running around the Botanical Gardens and along the Yarra River. There were bands and music stations around the course and the looping around meant that I saw Andy after 3km and 14km. It's always nice to hear someone cheering you on! Our race numbers actually had our names printed on them which was a nice touch, but only ONE person besides Andy shouted out "Go Wendy!" while I was running. I love when spectators are cheering when I'm in a race, but I have found so far that in Australia that doesn't seem to happen much.
|At the 14km mark|
I felt pretty good during the race and gradually my average pace got down to about 8:31. I was getting pretty excited after about 11 miles as I was pretty sure I was going to beat my 1:55 goal, but I didn't want to get overly excited and push it too hard and then injure myself right before the end. So I just maintained my pace and ended up finishing in 1:52:13, a new PB! My Nike watch said I'd run 13.23 miles, which is .13 miles longer than a half-marathon should be. I know that seems negligible, but it amounts to an extra minute of running. Oh well.
|Heading towards the finish|
After the race we got a nice medal and an apple - no goody bags here in Australia! Oh I forgot to mention that along the course there were lots of drink stations and they were handing out water with Nuun electrolyte tablets in them. It's like having a Gatorade without all the sugar and calories.
We had a few friends doing the 10k run which started at 9am so we hung around and waited for them to finish, before going for brunch at Self Preservation on Bourke Street. Amazing food, I had the special which was some sort of chickpea and feta smash on sourdough with poached egg, but the service was SO slow. By the time we finished I had pretty much hit a wall and needed to get home to rest. Andy was also complaining about being tired, I guess watching a half marathon is just as exhausting as running one?!
All in all I really enjoyed Run Melbourne and would definitely sign up again next year, and I'm feeling more confident about my marathon training.