Race Report –Blackmore’s Half Marathon Sydney -September 21st 2014.
This is the 3rd time the Byron Bay Runners have participated in this event.
I can fill you in on the race, but really it’s a very small part of the fun to be had on this annual weekend event for the female members of the club.
The planning commenced months in advance with a ‘What’s App Sydney’ set up specifically to organize where to meet, what flights to book and where to eat and drink while we were there.
The excitement increased as the day approached with phones beeping in offices and homes around NSW (and England) At times we had to remind ourselves we were there to run. (And to work instead of ‘what’s apping’)
The memo was to meet at 5.07 am Sunday for the train to Milsons point. 8 of us headed out for the 21k with Moyra and Ang being first timers. We all shared lots of laughs and nerves as we got to the start on a cloudy Sydney Morning.
Bags dropped and the traditional team photos overlooking the Opera House- Julia commented on the ‘unleashing of my inner Geordie’ as I took off my warm top to show off the team cropped top- yes it’s freezing waiting for the race to start, even for a lass from the North East of England.
Caz and I joined the start and moved up to get a good shot at my second serious attempt to break 1hr 40.
We set off and the first 3k we were flying, Caz is the best pacer you could hope for- giving me water, talking me up the hills and keeping me on track.
It was a perfect day to run, cool and only a small shower to contend with.
At 5km I was bang on my pace, 7km all good, 10k again clocked at 47.20- all good. This part of the race is brilliant- we ran over the Harbour Bridge, and round Mrs. Macquarie’s chair all very scenic.
Next we headed behind Circular Quay and out towards Piermont- as we passed 12k my head started to go- this for me is the most challenging part of the race, not nearly so scenic with a few backstreets and general city docklands. My head went down.
I knew there were a couple of hills, but had in my head that once I was past the worst at 16k and made it to 17 it was downhill and flat to the end. I think I had built up the 16k hill so much I had not really thought enough about the few kms around it. Looking at my splits later I had dropped to 5.20 pace for 14-19km.
Caz pulled me through the hill at 16k and in fact it was nowhere near as bad as I’d built up in my mind. I even managed to pass a couple of people on the hills (they passed me on the way down) those hills were much easier this year. Either the hill training paid off… or I was running slower. Whatever- it seemed a long time till we saw the 17km marker.
The highlights of the run were seeing the rest of the team on turnarounds- I managed to see Moyra, Ang, Julia and Peta and give them a yell.
The Byron Bay Runners singlets and now Visors really stand out. We also had a few members at the 10km mark to cheer us on- they were running later in the Bridge Run- it really lifts your heart, your head and your legs when you hear someone cheering your name. (Never underestimate what you do when you turn up to support someone else)
So 17km passed and I’d had my last gel, Caz encouraged me to step it up for the last 3.5km. I did pick it up, tried to remember about short surges and just keeping strong, but I knew I’d no chance at the 1.39 anything.
At 19k I started to imagine the familiar last 2km of my Saturday runs- getting to the bottom of Bangalow road and heading to the BP- I started to visualize this, checking off the markers, (white gate, Golf Club, Baywood roundabout) and getting to my car to get coffee) and this really helped me focus. So much so, that my mind went to Goal B-beating my last PB from Brisbane (1.41.15). But as the 1.40 pacer got further away I knew that that was out of the question too- so aimed at Goal C-Beating last years Sydney time of 1.45.15. (Yes I am a bit competitive!)
My legs felt heavier as we approached circular Quay, but then it’s that last surge around the harbour and the touristy beauty and familiarity of this space lifted my spirit and my legs.
I took a deep breath and went for it. Remembered to smile for the camera and pushed on.
Looking back it feels like such a blur until the last 2k around the harbor.
Suddenly more 1.40 pacers turned up- Ey? “Maybe if I cross the line in front of them I can do it” Caz is yelling at me to put it in and I do, but the pacers pass me 3 seconds before I cross the line. Official time 1.42.17 my Garmin agreed on the time but clocked 22.7k???
I was obviously disappointed about not achieving this mind-consuming goal, but I’d knocked 3 mins off last year’s time, and was really happy with that. If I can do that next time, I can tick it off my list.
It’s such an amazing feeling to stand on the opera House steps having completed such a brilliant run- most of it is truly stunning for a road run. It’s even better to do it with some of your best mates around you.
The race doesn’t end here- next job is to get your medal, your bag and a coffee and be on the Cahill Express to cheer on the rest of the team in the Bridge Run. I love all that yelling with your mates, for your mates- and for anyone else who looks like they need it.
As we left Circular Quay breakfast bound, the smiles on everyone faces was infectious. Now for the rest of the fun we’d planned.
Eating, drinking the obligatory post race celebratory champagne, eating some more. Plus, I can’t be in Sydney without a trip over the harbour… to Watsons Bay.
Some of the fun we had included impersonating team mates running styles- I’m sure the other passengers waiting for the Ferry found us as hysterical as we did.
I can honestly say that my tummy hurt from laughing almost as much as my legs from running.
Waiting for the flight home we all agreed we’d do it all again next year. We even started the planning:
Get there earlier.
Book all rooms together on the same floor
No squishy beds
No crap showers in rooms
Byron Bay Onesie to keep warm before the race…. Was that it Caz?
Achieve goal time.
To run is the reason we go, but there is so much more to this trip in terms of building team spirit, supporting each other and making new and firmer friends.
These are the reasons I’m in Byron Bay Runners.