Last weekend in Sydney was the Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon, a race very close to my heart. Only two years ago in 2013 I ran this race as my first ever half marathon and surprised myself with a sub 2 hour finish time of 1:54. It was the first of many big races ahead of me. This year we had a group of Rachel’s Runners head in for the event and as always it was such a great morning!
On race day we set off super early and caught the train into the city. Everyone was excited, discussing their race plans and how they were feeling. Surprisingly most of us were calm and I for one was very relaxed for a change. This year I had decided not to run the whole half, but rather run it as part of a relay team with one of my good running buddies Erin.
When we arrived we were shocked to see that it had been raining and a bit worried about it holding off for the race and how slippery the road surface might be. As it turns out the weather was perfect – not too cold, not too hot & not one drop of rain. Everyone set about sorting out their last minute jobs and after a quick ‘good luck’ departed for their designated start groups.
As I was running it the relay, I had a later start group so Erin, our friend Kay and myself decided we had time before the race to go and find our Runlab coaches Damon and Eloise (Wellings). Being an elite runner, Elzy was up the front of the race start with Damon warming up. This race was to be her second ever half marathon and Elzy was going out for the win! We said a quick good luck to her and headed off down to our start spot – at the back! After a little bit of shuffling, Kay and I made out way to the front of our start pack and waited for our start time.
Once the race began, I was feeling good. I was really happy and positive because I knew that I only had 7km to run and for that distance I could maintain a reasonably good pace. If I could get free from the crowds I was hoping to get under 5 minute/km pace.
The start was great as it’s a lot of downhill running for a while – which I love! The thought of running through the streets of Sydney which are shut down just for us always pumps me up and I was moving quickly. As we got to around the 4km mark the front runners were starting to come back through heading back to the finish line. The roars from the crowd of runners cheering them along was amazing!
It was about this time that our side of the course started to become a bit of a squeeze due to some road works. The crowd forced me to slow down, but I took this opportunity to get close to the side where the elites were heading for home so I could catch a glimpse of Eloise and cheer her on if I saw her. And all of a sudden, there she was – out in front!! It was so awesome to witness that moment and I screamed out “Go Elzy!” I felt so proud and more determined than ever to do my best to hit my goal.
I somehow made it out of the crowd and not too long after was powering for the transition point in my race. As I arrived I saw one of my Instagram friends Kelly cheering me on. I gave her a wave and she directed me to my relay buddy Erin – transition complete! As I got my breath and a cup of water I took a look at my Garmin and noted my pace as 4:59 mins/km. YES!! I had hit my goal!
Kelly and I then made our way back up town to the finish line. We spent some time cheering on our friends who were running which was great. I don’t usually get to do this as I am either just finishing my race and am in a daze getting my breath/a drink as the others are crossing the line, or I am running a marathon and they are cheering me on. Such a nice feeling to repay the favour. I also found out from Coach Damon that Eloise had won for the women! Woohoo!
I spent the next hour or so watching the race presentations, debriefing the race with my team mates and congratulating everyone on their run. The atmosphere at this kind of event is amazing as everyone is on a high – a runners high of course! When I am at these things I always flashback to the first time I ever went to a fun run a couple of years ago and my ‘awakening’…I could not believe how many people were out doing this ‘fun run thing’. It’s almost like a whole other secret world that non-runners don’t know exist, but once you go to one you are hooked.
After a while it was time to head for home and on our way we decided to check out how our friend Diala had gone in her event. This time last year Diala and I had tackled the Great Ocean Road Marathon as our first marathon and this year she had returned to run in the Half Marathon down there. As it turns out she ran a great race and achieved her goal also. Well done Diala!
Overall, it was another successful race day and one which we are hoping to return to again next year with a bunch of our newer runners set to run the relay event. The relay version of this run is great way for a person to get involved who is not yet ready to run the whole 21.1km distance.
If you’re keen to run with us we start up a new round of our ever popular Learn to Run sessions next Saturday 30 May. Email me – email@example.com for more info about how you too can become a runner and join in the secret life of the ‘fun run’!