Monday, April 16, 2012

Canberra Half Marathon.....

I'm taking a couple of days off training and instead just walking my two puppies each afternoon before starting my next training program.  It's a good use of the time to update my blog and talk about the half marathon I ran in Canberra yesterday, Sunday, 15th April.

 I had planned and entered to take part in this event last year.  I didn't happen when my husband, Jim, was diagnosed with lung cancer and subsequently died just six weeks later.

I had promised Jim I would continue to train and compete for as long as I was fit and happy to do so.  Now, twelve months later I had the opportunity to do that.  I resumed a half marathon training program of 18 weeks and did the very best I could to be ready for this event which I would run in his memory and with the knowledge that he would be watching and willing me on to finish.  For this reason in particular, this Canberra half marathon took on a special significance for me and the 18 weeks flew past all too quickly, as all of life does, and suddenly the event weekend had arrived.  I had prepared as best I could; everything else had to come from the heart...and it did!

Looking back after the event,  I see there is a need, certainly in my own case,  to focus more on strength and endurance as one ages into the 80's...or even sooner for that matter!  It's fatigue taking its toll all too early in the race compared to what one has been used to in even longer races such as the marathon.  This happened to me during this run and I was taken by surprise to feel it such an effort to keep running at a planned pace that previously would have worked easily.  Shocked, to be truthful, and definitely something to learn from.

The weekend started with the daughter of a friend driving from Sydney, picking me up and then on to Canberra.  We stayed at Forrest Hotel & Apartments quite close to the start.  We walked across to watch the 10km race at 4:00pm, on the way meeting Eagle with whom we chatted for some time; always good to talk to Ray.  Later I phoned Ewen and arranged to meet him for an evening meal which we had at a good restaurant in Manuka; I was so pleased Ewen was able to meet with us; he's been a great friend and support for many years now.  Right Ewen?

A supposedly early night, but I never can sleep well before a special event and so I watched every hour on the clock : 12, 1.2, 3, 4 until 5:00a.m I got up to make a cup of tea and a piece of toast for breakfast.  Unfortunately, the toaster was sitting right under the smoke detector and, you've guessed it, the heat set off the fire alarm!  The siren was as much a shock as it was deafening as I waited for the manager and fire brigade to arrive!  Great way to start the day, I thought!  However, no one turned up - another surprise;  the alarm eventually stopped and I'd lost all appetite for toast and Vegemite!

I had a short warm-up jog to the start where entrants to both the marathon and the half mingled for the same starting gun.  It was a fantastic Canberra morning; it couldn't have done better by us : warm, sunny, clear skies and no wind.  I couldn't help but feel quite emotional as we ran past the lake for the first time and saw a mirror image of the surrounding spires and hills reflected in the waters of Lake Burley Griffin. I thought, how fortunate a group of like-minded people we were!

During the run I tired too soon for my likings and that's about all that went wrong! I didn't have what it takes to finish the last kilometres strongly. I had set my Garmin to a pace of 6:38m/km.  That was pretty well spot on for the first 5km but after that it would seem that I ran slower for each of the other 5km splits which I'll copy from the results page later.  This didn't, however, alter my enthusiasm and joy to be part of this event and so I continued on running, keeping an eye on the pace but never quite reaching what I had hoped might get me to the finish in 2 hour 20 minutes and wishing it might even be closer still to my Australian Half Marathon W80 age-category record of 2:17:25 in 2010.  It wasn't to be but it's always good, I believe, to aim higher than one can reach!

I like this course although this was the first half marathon I'd run there; previously, I'd run marathons each year since 1971.  I also liked the way we half runners merged with the marathoners at around 26km I think it was.  It gave me a huge lift to be part of a bigger group and have lots of other runners around me.  Too often I've felt the loneliness of running completely on my own, wondering if I'm going in the right direction and even worse fears known only to those who have been at the very, and I stress very, back of the pack!  From the start yesterday, I was always running with lots of others...a very nice way to run and, since it rarely happens like this, gives me hope that I might be improving my speed!  God alone knows how much I've worked on this and everything else over the past 18 weeks!

I have to say I was relieved to see the finishing chute after the two hour mark; for the first time, the soles of my feet were sore during the later stages of the run; I can't think why as I'm used to running on bitumen.  It was funny and nice to hear my name shouted out as I ran through the finish.  Sometimes recently, I hear my age called out as well.  Yesterday, I was spared the embarrassment!  I collected my medal, returned to the motel for a shower and headed back to Mittagong, home and my two lost and bewildered puppies left alone for the night.  I think they were quite warm and happy though as the doona showed signs of being got under and the pillows looked very much as though they'd had a pillow fight before settling down!

In a few days' time I'll start the half marathon program all over again in preparation for the ACTVAC Half Marathon on August 19....same place, different course.  I will train better having picked up on what I think is my major weakness!  Till then, it's good night from me.... and good luck to all runners!

The Stats......from Garmin:
5km splits:  33:53;  33:59;  34:41;  34:19
Avg. Pace 6:57
Time : 2:24:45


of 1,692 TOTAL finishers.

of 820 F finishers.

of 3 F70-99 finishers.
split point split time s/rank race time r/rank activity distance pace speed
First Lap 01:11:47 1569 01:11:47 1609 RUN 10.50 06:50 8.77
Second Lap 01:13:10 1521 02:24:57 1572 RUN 10.60 06:54 8.69


  1. LL you are a champion, an inspiration, everything I'd like to emulate in xxx years' time. You go, girl!

    1. speedygeoff, you made me feel so good! Thank you.

  2. Great work. I only thought about how you went early tonight. Looked up the results. Wow!!!

  3. Fantastic result LL. Congratulations.I am so disappointed I missed catching up with you. I'll have to persuade Ewen to take me to Mittagong to see you. I arrived very early Sunday hoping I might spot you in the loo queue - no such luck. On Sat evening my daughter and her fiance came from Sydney to support me and I obviously ate with them and couldn't join you and Ewen. Sooo sad as I wanted so much to talk. Never mind, next time. I am so proud to know you. What a huge age group they put you in F70-99 - that's a bit unfair! However, you still came 2nd - woo hoo! You are always an inspiration. xx

    1. Yes, sorry we didn't get the chance to chat, strewth; understand perfectly and there'll be a next time, not too far away I hope.

  4. What an achievement. I'm relieved to read that all went well although not quite as well as you hoped. Do you runners feel a let down after the long preparation and then the race? Maybe just relief?

    1. Not at all let down, lindseypedals. I straight away start to plan for the next time to be disappointed!

  5. Yes, a long time... since before you were 'three score and sweet sixteen'! Agree with Ruth about the tough age-group - I'd hate to be a 98-year-old trying to win that one.

    Great that you've spotted areas where you can improve. I'm sure with a bit of fine-tuning you can challenge that 2:17. By the way, you were way ahead of the oldest finisher:

    1. I wish someone would explain to me why the age categories stop at 70+! Looking at the results, I was way ahead of lots of other runners! Woo Hoo!!

      'Fine tuning' is the way to go before the next one!

  6. LL, disappointed to have missed you after the race. I saw Ewan and he filled me in on your results. You're a tough ol' bird to be getting straight back into the training. Don't think I'll be running for a week! :)

    Enjoy your new focus.

    1. I looked around hoping I'd see you, TA & the Gnome...too big a crowd I'm afraid.

      Haven't started actual training yet; just sorting out the weak spots to concentrate on for the next event. However, tough ol' birds don't sit around for long doing nothing!

      Congratulations on your own fabulous run; couldn't happen to a nicer young lad!

  7. I couldn't get to Canberra for this year's event but have enjoyed reading your race report. The way you were talking I thought you may have blown out in the second half of the race but I think you have held up really strongly. Love that you still have the motivation and drive to aim high. Long may it continue.

    1. Robert Song, I'm hoping to continue on and on...and on! I hope the same for you too. I just tired unexpectedly during the latter part of the run; it shouldn't have happened, but gives me something to work on before the next event.