>Racing>Sub 1:30 Half Marathon in 2019
Race report - Christchurch Half Marathon, 2 June 2019
On a good day, Christchurch is one of the quickest half (and marathon) courses in NZ - flat, not too many turns, closed roads almost the whole way, and the start of June, a decent winter's morning on a clear day with 5-8C temps (40's) is entirely likely. There is a good reason that it generally attracts the deepest half-marathon field in NZ, and is also hosting the NZ Marathon Champs again this year.
Today is not a good day, weather-wise. 5C at the start, but with wind-chill it's probably below freezing, and showers. Fortunately, it's better than the day before, which saw over a month's worth of rain in 1 day, and even stronger winds. While the rain has subsided, there's still a lot of water on parts of the course.
I don't have a time goal in mind, given the conditions, and I'm focused on just running the best I can, having had a great training block since my last race. If conditions were good, I'd be lining up a PB for sure, but they're not. I also don't have any thermal gear with me, and having never trained in it, I'd be reluctant to wear it in a race anyway. I do make the call to wear my decent Icebreaker merino gloves rather than some cheap throwaway ones as I'll probably need them the whole way.
I do a short warm-up in my emergency poncho (yes, it was blue), and there's definitely still wind and rain around - not gale, but enough to certainly be a challenge. I see Watson briefly and one other guy I know (Luke McCallum, who ran a 1:09 at Waterfront and is a damn good sports masseuse) before the start but mostly just do my own thing.
Christchurch sees the 10k, half and full marathon events all start at the same time, which I thought would be chaos, but was actually quite good for creating a bit more atmosphere. There are a few elite Auckland runners that have come down for the race that I recognise but I don't know most of the others. They delay the start a few minutes to allow for latecomers to drop their bags (not impressed with having to stand around in the wind and rain longer than I had to), but fiiiiinnalllyyy at a few minutes past 8 we are off and into what vaguely resembles a sunrise.
It's not long before a lead group emerges with probably 15 of the fastest marathon and half marathon runners and probably the faster 10k runners too. I am a bit behind them but in front of a few others. The first km is a touch quick at 3:19 but we did have the wind behind us. The second km is good at 3:28 as we turn the corner and cross the Avon river for the first of several times.
Then we turn into the wind, and it's immediately noticeable - the effort level immediately rises. As I contemplate pushing the pace to try and catch the group ahead, I realise there are a couple other guys on my shoulder so at least I have a group to (hopefully) work with). However, as we round the top of Hagley Park I realise that no-one else is stepping up to take a turn leading into the wind. I intentionally dial the pace off to force one of the other guys to have a go. I then realise it makes almost no difference and go back to doing my own thing.
Around this point, running into the wind, and rain, in what was apparently -3C temps factoring wind chill, the Wiggles song "Have a Good Day" pops into my head (they're a kids group that my daughter loves). I almost laughed out loud.
Anyway despite the wind, Hagley Park is still as great as always to run through, but the splits are a bit slower at 3:34, 3:32, 3:35, 3:39. A large group of runners have caught us up and we now have a group of probably 8. Of which at least 4 were wearing the yellow and red of Wellington Scottish. Honestly, that club just has ridiculous depth. A guy in maroon, one in grey, one in black, and a lone blue Takapuna singlet (me).
As soon as the wind is behind us, the difference is noticeable. 3:27, 3:25, 3:23, and although I was having to work just a little to stick with the group, it still felt very manageable. We're heading back towards the start line, and after turning right onto Kilmore St the 10k runners go straight to the finish and the half marathon and marathon runners turn left and carry on. The headwind is still there (km 10: 3:36) but running with the group makes it a lot easier.
And so does the tailwind, once we turn another couple of corners. The next part of the race just felt really solid and locked in and at this point my confidence really grew as I felt the legs still definitely had a bit left (or maybe it was just the tailwind). I remember noticing just how good the lead runners in the group were at pointing out hazards on the road - big puddles, etc. Kudos, Wellington Scottish. 3:28, 3:30, 3:27, 3:24 and things are feeling good.
Having said that, we're now into the red zone. This is a (former) suburban area, which is now totally vacant after the February 2011 earthquake - the houses are all gone and there's just a bunch of (largely unmaintained) roads. It's actually quite cool to run around, coming straight out of the city and into this area, but there is a LOT of surface flooding and some serious evasive action is required to avoid the larger pools of water - including running up the river stop-banks a couple times (this was sanctioned by the race organisers). The ducking and weaving does take a bit out of the legs, and km 15 is 3:37, although km 16 is better at 3:30.
At this point the group has broken up largely due to people taking different paths around the flooded areas, there's maybe 5 ahead of me and 2 or 3 behind me. We're coming up to the point where the half and full split off and sure enough all the Scottish guys carry straight on (full), I turn left with one other guy in black just ahead of me. I catch him up just after the turn as we are back into suburbia. I'm a bit cold but still feeling strong although the last 4km home are largely into the wind.
He must be a local guy as he gets a couple of cheers (go Nathan!). Shortly after we reel in another guy who is really struggling. Nathan obviously knows him and encourages him but it looks like this guy has hit the wall. Km 17 pops up at 3:35 and then I realise that there's actually a shot at a decent time here. The hardest part is still to go though so I'm not getting ahead of myself.
The next couple of km's, I could feel we were working into the wind but the legs just kept pumping hard. At 3:41, 3:37, they were a little slower but there's definitely still something in the tank. Everything is soaking wet, but even when wet those Icebreaker gloves aren't (that) cold. I wouldn't say I'm warm, but I'm still feeling vaguely human despite the Antarctic conditions. Seriously, I've only ever run one race in worse weather and there was a major highway nearby closed for 5 days after that one.
The real kicker was the end of km 19. My watch says something just under 1:07 total time and I realised that, somehow, a PB was potentially on. I've been so focussed on just keeping things rolling in the conditions that my brain isn't up to any serious maths and probably the watch distance is running a little long by this point but even then adding 2 x 4 minutes gets me something right on PB pace.
Only one way to find out.
I put in a surge here, and really just hoped like hell that I could keep it rolling. The legs felt like they had a bit left, and I was hoping I was gonna hit paydirt on the 100km weeks I put in this cycle. Nathan dropped off a touch, and as I cross the river again and turn onto Avonside Drive there's some great encouragement from runners heading in the other direction.
At 3:35, km 20 was a bit slower than I'd hoped but coming onto Kilmore St. (again) I can see the finish line in the distance. The watch says a bit over 1:10. I can see the finish line in the distance and I just keep pumping the legs. Surely I can cover that in 4 minutes?
This reminds of driving in the desert when we were driving from LA to Las Vegas like 20 years ago. You see buildings on the horizon, and a little while later, they're slightly bigger buildings on the horizon.
Gotta run harder then.
The headwind gets stronger.
Gotta run harder.
The headwind gets stronger again.
One thing mattered at this point, and that was getting to the bright orange thing in the distance as quickly as humanly possible.
I didn't even see km 21 come up on the watch, and I apologise to Steve because apparently he was cheering pretty loudly for me shortly before the line. I can see the clock says 1:14:0x and YEAH WE'RE DOING THIS BABY!
I didn't see the clock as I crossed the line because I was too busy having a celebratory fist pump but I stopped my watch at 1:14:26. Definitely a PB, although I must've sucked in a lot of cold air as I'm coughing big-time after the finish.
Of all the days I hoped to PB on, this was not one of them. Second-worst conditions I've ever raced in, unquestionably - and not second by much, either. A PB day is always a good day, but this one feels twice as good because I had to fight for every single one of those 17 seconds I wiped off my PB.
Caught up with Steve and Watson for a beer afterwards, it's the first time I've had a beer before lunchtime in a long time, but hey - of all the days, this is worth it.
Official time: 1:14:25 (PB), 10th place
5000m: 16:03 (Dec-18) | 5km: 16:24 (Nov-18) | 10km: 33:15 (Sep-19) | HM: 1:12:49 (Sep-19) | FM: 2:57:36 (Oct-17)
Last race: NZ Road Relays (Leg 2 / 10.2km), 5 Oct, 35:10
Up next: The Agency Group 10,000m, 9 Nov
"CONSISTENCY IS KING"
Watson - absent the conditions you would've been comfortably under 1:30 today.
Piwi - cheers. It wasn't far off that Taupo race, conditions-wise.
Hot Weather Complainer
Mark - nice RR. After I yelled at you I got told to get off the course so I was very close! I thought you may have had hypothermia because your eyes were very absent as you went past - but you weren't the only one. Nearly every runner had a frozen face and this might be the time that the word "literally" is actually appropriate.
Today wasn't as bad as 2017 but not far off. ChCh needs to lift its game and get back to freezing cold but fine conditions.
PB: Christchurch 2016 1:29.25
Recent Races: South Island Half-Marathon 2018 1:32.39 Auckland Waterfront Half-Marathon 2019 1:30.49
Next Race: South Island Half-Marathon, August 4, 2019
weight loss complainer
Mark - great race report as always. It seems to me that cold does not affect you nearly as much as warm.
Watson - great race, it looks like it was a tough day out there.
me - lower volume this week:
M: Functional training
T: 15x400 avg 1:32 each
T: Cut down from 4:45 to 3:45 speeding up every 2k
F: Functional training
S: 12k tempo 4:04 pace / 7.5 mile at 6:35 pace, roughly HM PR pace + 4seconds
S: 7ez pacing duties for the wife, last 7k of her half.
My wife got to know the wall today during her half marathon race haha, we were confident she could snatch a PR but she went out way too fast, breaking her 10k record along the way and by the time my pacing duties started she was overcooked and pissed of already. It didn't help that the hills were over the last 3 miles of the race, she still did great 1h53, nearly a PR repeat.
On a separate matter, I've started coordinating with my running coach and the functional training gym for a new block of training for a 1500m race in early September. I still don't have a target race so it's gonna be a time trial for now, unless I find an official race around that time.
Training will start June 16th for a period of 12 weeks.
The strength training will be 4 weeks of brute strength training, 6 weeks of explosive training and 2 weeks of taper.
The running training will be different with the focus on the shorter race, not sure what's coming my way, but probably a lot more sprints and fast stuff. I hope to unlock a new speed and to gain some much needed strength along the way. My PR is 4:57, online calculators tell me that that 10:34 3000m race from the other day is equivalent to a 5:04 1500m, so I should be close to a PR and maybe even break 4:50. Let's see!
PRs: 1500m 4:54.1 3K 10:34 5K 18:05 HM 1:24:25 - Up next: Chase the HM PR
Watson - Very well run under those conditions!
Flavio - Good luck training for the 1500! If you haven’t already you should look at this thread on LR: https://www.letsrun.com/forum/flat_read.php?thread=2270504
5k: 20:32 (1/17) | HM: 1:34:37 (2/18) | FM: 3:31:37 (3/18)
Swimming instead of running
Mark: great RR thanks
Mark&Watson: man what would have been possible in good conditions ie no wind and a touch warmer....next time!
Flavio: if you pick weird distances you will have to do time trials of course. Reminds me of the Dutch for winter olympics they invented all those weird distances in skating to bring home those medals and no other nation besides the weird Koreans tries to compete there.
Rune: how are you doing man? This Ams marathon cost you deerly...
Mark great race report. You must still have lots of PBs in you.
Flavio it's great to see you amping for these track races. Its keeping you motivated.
I've started Piriformis stretches. It's pretty sore mainly noticeable when driving or kayaking not so bad running. I've dropped my mileage back to short slow runs. My motivation had dropped back with it.
50+ PBs - 5k 18:29 Tauranga Parkrun May18
10k 38.55 oct 19 strava run
" If you don't use it you lose it but if you use it, it wears out.
Somewhere in between is about right "
Congrats to Mark and Watson for doing so well in conditions that sound awful. Special props to Steve for spectating - not sure I would’ve braved that weather to cheer for anyone I wasn’t sleeping with. I much prefer hot weather, which we've had a lot of recently, to cold & wet & windy.
I got in another decent week, though I had a new and perplexing issue with my right hip & hamstring midweek. Felt like I had a band squeezing all around my leg where it joins the hip, and occasionally I would get soreness moving down the hamstring. It wasn't steady or throbbing, but came & went unexpectedly. I felt off balance and out of whack even walking. It was worst during my Wednesday off day, and I felt it some at the start of my Thursday track workout, but I’m back to just mild occasional hamstring soreness now. No idea why.
Was pleased with the workout - my pace wasn’t bad considering that I didn’t push all that hard & wasn’t exhausted afterwards. Faded by a few seconds on the last repetition, but it was around 86/30 degrees and sunny/humid, so I wasn’t surprised. Four groups of law enforcement trainees were doing jogs on the track and stopping every hundred meters to exercise, and I probably lost a couple of seconds each repetition running around them. They were going clockwise, so I did the same, which felt very strange.
Sun - off, paintball with DW & son in 99/37 temps
Mon - 12.5 miles easy
Tues - 6.2 easy
Weds - 36 minutes swimming, left hamstring cramped near the end. Right hip & hamstring felt weird all day.
Thurs - 6 including 4x1200 @ 4:34 average (6:05/mile) with ~3:15 walk/jog rest
Fri - 6.2 easy
Sat - 8.1 easy, then 6 hours in sunny 89/32 temps with son at baseball game
Total - 39 miles
12-week average - 38 mpw, a new high
Post-1987 PRs: 5K 19:12 (2017); 10K 39:35 (Sept '19); Half 1:30:14 (March '19)
2019 Goals: NO INJURIES, 30+ mpw (ok so far), Half<1:30 (almost), 10K<40 (yes), 5K<19 (no)
6hrs of baseball? Sounds like the real crickett matches that last multiple days.
Last time I went for a ball game at the Giants stadium most spectators were busy taking selfies and posting them online....great sport though.
Flavio- targeting a 1500 will be good for your speed for sure. Also that will be some serious anaerobic pain.
MJ - I'm pretty sure 1500m is an Olympic distance (it might still be weird though).
James - nice week, not really great form to stop in the middle of the track but I can see why you just went around them!
Me - forgot to post my weekly. Just did my now-standard race week. Seems to be working so I'm not inclined to change it!
T: 10.1km easy
W: 10.8km w/ sprints
T: 9km w 3x1km moderate, 1x1km hard
F: rest day
S: 7.5km incl. 3 x 5 mins moderate with surges
S: 22.7km incl. Christchurch Half Marathon (1:14:25)
Mark and James - good weeks.
At the airport waiting to board to go home. Today would have great conditions, cold but zero wind or rain.
PRs: 5km 18:43 (Dec 2015), 10km 40:28 (Aug 2019), half 1:26:16 (Sep 2016), full 3:09:28 (Jun 2015)
40+ PRs: 5km 20:34 (Jan 2019), 10km 40:28 (Aug 2019), half 1:29:39 (Jun 2018)
2019 aims: Unlike 2017 & 2018, be consistent. So get 40+ weeks of 40+ miles incl. two quality sessions (5 weeks achieved so far).
It was the same here in Auckland today - would've been perfect racing weather! That's the way it goes I guess.
Also, checked my 5km splits per that discussion I had with JMac a month or so ago...
17:28 (2km downwind 3km upwind)
17:29 (2km upwind 3km downwind)
17:26 (all downwind, some puddle dodging)
17:58 (1km downwind 4km upwind, plus puddle dodging)
Last block was 1.2km in 4:04 on the watch (3:26/km), it was upwind but actually ended up being as fast as the downwind km's mid-race.
All in all, given I had just enough for that quick finish, I'd say this was probably my best-paced race. For Waterfront I ran pretty even splits but faded over the last 2km into the surprise headwind.
Mark: solo synchronized swimming is also olympic.
Disclaimer: Running as fast as possible for 1 1/2 km is really cool and I will never be able to get to Flavio's current speed level. In thinking about the middle distance runninh the way I do i.e. believing that they are far too short, I out myself as clueless about the sport of running. Its just far too technical for me to comprehend. I will leave it to you pro's! One day I might understand....that will be like when Karate kid finally got what Mr Myagui was talking about all the time.
Mark: solo synchronized swimming is also olympic.