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