Somehow, this race wasn't included in my original preparations for Ironman Western Australia at the end of the year. However, when I signed up with Bill's coaching, I had a guess that he would have me racing this event. If I had known earlier, I would have signed up before the early bird entry ends and save myself $5! Haha, yes I am an accountant after all, every penny counts!
I have been feeling pretty good with my running sessions lately. And by clocking a 4:10 per km average at my most recent 1.5 hour long run, I set myself a challenge to try to run sub 87 minutes at this race, which is 4:07 per km. My previous best was at the same race last year, 1:28:33. Last year, I did an 80km ride the day before. Whereas this year, I did a 4 hour ride (which ended up being 4:12 because of the nasty northerly winds on the way back!) on the eve of the race. So it will be interesting to see how my legs hold up.
I slept like a log the night before, after a hearty meal at Catalano's Cafe. Didn't have too much sweet stuff this year for dessert, as they gave both myself and Li-Ann stomach upsets towards the end of last year's run.
Race morning, I got to the WA Marathon clubrooms at 7.30am, but all the parking spots were already taken up. This year's turnout was over 740 runners for the half marathon event alone. Parked a bit further, no worries, I did a warm up jog to the club rooms. Caught up with the guys from Break Your Limits, it's nice meeting up with people you know before the race to calm your nerves. Other people I met were Dennis Tan and John Cooke from North Coast Tri Club. We left it to the last minute before doing a warm up jog, after which Sam, my riding partner appeared, catching me by surprise. Sam and I then walked to the starting line, making it just in time, less than 1 minute before the 8.00am start! Yes, you can tell I'm much more relaxed this year!
The start was a bit crowded, I got a bit worried that my pace will be affected but I crossed the 1st km marker in 4:03, and the 2nd in 3:59 so I was doing well ahead of target. I was pacing with whom I thought was Nera Jerab, WA's state champion for the Perth Marathon, and as I soon dropped her off, I tought to myself that I was doing pretty alright! Later, I found out at the turnaround point at the Narrows Bridge, that Nera was away ahead of me and would eventually be the women's champion in a blitzing 1:23:38 (no surprises here!), and the girl I dropped off was her sister Visnja, who actually finished 17 seconds after me.
The km markers were a bit inconsistent, but overall I was averaging just under 4:07 per km pace. I got to the 10km mark at 41:02 and were beginning to overtake some of the runners in front of me. Our BYL Man of Mystery, Shao (Wuzza) Wu was taking pictures at the South Perth foreshore, cheering us on, so I was feeling pretty good.
But it soon came undone from 12km onwards. I was beginning to feel some minor side stitches and it didn't help that despite the weather being generally calm, any slight headwind will tend to affect your mind and body when you're starting to suffer. Also, the absence of km markers from the 13th km onwards made it a bit difficult to estimate if I was on track. Plus, on this part of the course, we had to to go through some short, but pretty steep hills at the East Perth foreshore, which will throw off your leg cadence out of whack. Here's where I constantly needed to tell myself, to just keep the momentum going!
The last few kms, I was inching closer and closer to veteran runner, Mitch Cleasby. We got the finishing chute together and I started sprinting. But, the crafty Mitch wasn't going to let me overtake him, so he picked up his cadence and left me in his wake. I finished a second behind him in 1:27:32, a minute off last year's PB, in 58th place overall, as Mr BYL himself, Ray Lampard, one of the race emcees, commentated my finish. I guess, despite being a bit off target, I really can't complain as it is still a new PB.
Caught up with the other guys after the race, most of them did their PBs that day, indicating a combination of great racing conditions and effective training programs, which are really paying off. A good day out.
*Pictures courtesy of Lena Inkson and Dash Photography*