42 minutes and 23 seconds. That is how long my last race took me to run, and is how long I will spend writing this blog.
I haven’t been blogging much lately because of baby reasons and being a bit of a perfectionist, most things I write never even make it past the drafts folder.
I read a blog post this week on doing things badly, so I thought I’d make a start and see if I can write a quick race report within the time it took me to run my last race. No pressure on it being a perfectly crafted piece of writing, no expectation that it be witty or contain some sort of wise life lesson. Just a race report.
I went along to the Whanganui Three Bridges marathon last weekend. My old coach Kevin Ross moved to Whanganui a few years ago, so it was a good excuse to go and catch up over a large flat white and chat about running with someone who has been around the track in under 60 seconds four consecutive times.
As is becoming tradition, Elliot recognised that I was prepping to do a race so woke up every hour the night before. Good on ya mate. Pretending that the lack of sleep wasn’t an issue, we were all up for the day at 6am and on the road fully caffeinated by 6.30 to drive from Wellington to Whanganui.
It was already heating up by the time we got there, I’d picked a bright yellow and blue outfit to match the sunny conditions and was feeling pretty confident about my run.
The race HQ was at the boat club, a cool old building with volunteers flitting up and down the rickety wooden stairs (800 volunteers in total I am told for the day!) eating pink-iced morning tea cakes and party pies and giving people directions.
The race packs were in a reusable bag from Pak’n Save which I appreciated because unlike most Stuff commenters I am not hoarding plastic bags to ‘re-use’ as a bin liner and moaning about how awful my life will be when I have to use paper as a bin liner, or god forbid, wipe the bin clean. The race packs also contained PICS PEANUT BUTTER!!! Wellington’s Round The Bays should take note.
I was nervous going in to this race, 10km is a long way to run if you are planning on running hard, and I was. I am still ‘only’ running 3-4 times a week, and I get a bit scared about running too far or too hard because I think my pelvis will split in half or something. I’m not kidding. The fear of my insides falling out is real and I think I’ve just been lucky so far to have encountered no problems post-baby.
The Chan with a plan told me to go out easy at 4.10 pace for around 3km, then pick it up as I went on and finish hard. I was in agreement as I didn’t care too much about the outcome of the race, and it would be a good opportunity to try a new tactic and play around with how I paced things.
I warmed up with one of Wellington’s greatest assets Michelle van looy, club captain of Olympic Harriers, amazing runner, mum, baker and rock climber and all round awesome lady. I planned to start off with her then get faster, but I’m just a bit crap at sticking to the plan.
Lining up on the start line, I could see that people hadn’t really seeded themselves appropriately. There were 10km walkers standing in the second row ahead of runners, people wearing headphones standing up front, me standing nearby, judging their running ability by which shade of hot pink the ginormous phone case in their hand is. And when have I ever been wrong?
Someone needs to write the Velominati for running and rule #35 is to not run a race with a pink glitter filled iphone case in your hand, and if you do, hide it from view by starting at the back. Also Rule #1, shorts should be short, eye-wateringly bordering on obscene short. Death to your inner thighs if you don’t use chamois cream kind of short.
There are people who run to complete an event, and there are people who run to compete. I am firmly in the latter category and it’s not because I want to win the race, it’s because I like to push myself. Winning is just a bonus!
The start gun went and I was in a small pack of women who had set off at around 3.30 pace. This was too fast for me, so I hung back a little, knowing full well that I was going to reel them in very shortly and beat them by several minutes by the time we finished. This isn’t arrogance, it is trusting in yourself and your abilities, it’s having race experience and it’s knowing by the rasping breath of your competitors that they have gone out just a touch too hard.
I ticked off the first 3km in around 3.57 minutes per km which is a lot faster than I had planned to go, but I was feeling comfortable and in a good rhythm so I just let it go. BB and Elliot were on the course, cheering for me and looking at trees.
How good are trees?
It was great to see Elliot’s fat wee face peering out of the pram and looking for me when she heard my voice as I ran past.
After 6km I tried to go back to my original race plan and picked up the pace, running around 3.50. This lasted for a very hot and sticky 2km before I had to cross bridge number two. The steep incline really took it out of my legs and I struggled to get my rhythm back and slowed right down.
Soon after the bridge was an aid station, around 8km in and I was so parched. I had a bit of an internal battle with my eco- conscious self vs my fatigued race self.
Do I drink water from a disposable cup? How can I comment about single use plastic bags if I use that cup? But I am SO THIRSTY! Could I just drink straight from a tap? Do I really need water, it’s only 10km. Water will make you run faster!
I caved and grabbed a (paper not plastic) cup of water, choking on it and getting perhaps one sip inside my mouth. My arms tensed up, my pace slowed even more, what a disaster for my race and for the environment.
Maybe it’s a habit picked up from constantly narrating my daily life to an audience of one beefy little squealing baby, but I said out loud to myself, ‘Come on Amanda, you can do this. Push harder!’
So I pushed a little harder. I pushed aside that little voice that told me I was tired, that I was slow, and that I needed to stop. I told myself I could do it, I wasn’t that tired (jokes on you Elliot I don’t need sleep) and I ran as hard as I could.
I ran over the final bridge, along the board walk, and down the road to the finishing chute where I crossed the line in 42.23 for the quarter marathon. See my run on Strava here.
I managed to go through 10km in 39.55, which is the 4th fastest time I’ve run for 10km. My PB is 39.08 so I am not far off reaching that again. It was so stinkin’ hot, I had a sweat patch that made me question the strength of my pelvic floor. Give me some decent sleep, a course with no tight turns or hills, some bad ass ladies to run with and some cooler weather and I reckon I can get closer to my PB.
I learned a bit about my pacing during this race, perhaps I should have stuck to the same pace and not tried to speed up so early on, I may have felt better and finished stronger. It was great to find out what happens changing my pace within a race and trying to go outside my comfort zone early on.
A highlight of this event was seeing so many people I knew at the finish line. My great Aunty Margie, who is 70 and still walking with her Harriers group, and doing ocean swims. She has amazing legs! My friends Sophie and Sierra, both mums who make fitness a part of life and have a very cute support crew waiting for after the race. Michelle and other harriers runners from Scottish and WHAC, cheering for me while I ran.
Whanganui is not too far from Wellington so this is a great race to support if you live in the capital, and there is barely any wind!