On Saturday, the Sundown Half Marathon was to prove to be an experience that i am likely to cherish for quite some time to come. My fundamental objective for the race was to run below 2hrs and my stretch target was to run 1:53 (for 2 reasons - 1:53 converts to a Mcmillan sub 4 marathon, and also i wanted to go below 2hr by as much as my current PR was above it 2:06:xx). As it turned out, i ran a 1:55:59. And i am pleased as punch by it !!
I had carboloaded reasonably well having had pasta for dinner on Friday and again as lunch on Saturday. Knowing the traffic snarl that was likely in getting to the race site, i left home at around 4.30pm and after an inordinate amount of time crawling through the Aviation Park Road, i parked my car at 5.30pm. Saw the 10km kick off and then found some of my HM friends who had also reached the venue by then. (The three friends who i met ran 1:30, 1:33 and 1:45 respectively !!!)
My first lesson of the day came from here - i should remember to carry something to munch if i felt the need just before a race. At the start line i was actually quite hungry as i hadnt had anything to eat for more than 3 hours. Other than that, I was feeling quite positive and was excited at the prospect of actually "racing" i.e. putting a solid effort out on the road. My plan was to run the first 2-3kms at at 5:45 pace (advice from Roonz) and then pick it up to about 5:20 and hold it there for as long as i could. About 20 minutes from the start of the race, there was a call for sub 2 runners to move to the front and i sheepishly made my way up there, not knowing if i was deserving of rubbing shoulders with other runners who could stake a legit claim to be there.
The race started right on time at 8pm, and because of the speedy gonzales' around me, i ran a 5:34 for the 1st km, and in fact managed an average pace of 5:30ish for the next few kms. On one hand i was ruing going out too fast and on the other, since i had already warmed up by then, i figured i would keep the pace there and keep going. The first 11km went relatively smoothly, coming in exactly at 1 hour. My scheduled gel break was for the 13km water point and it was from there on that my walk breaks at the water points became progressively longer. I knew i was slipping off my pace target, yet when i wasnt walking, i was running pretty well. ECP can get pretty desolate and i found myself running alone for most of the race, either being overtaken or passing others by but not many running at the same pace as i was. I was steadily going out of gas, but since it had been my plan to push it all the way, i tried to run as fast as i could despite my side stitch at the 17th and 19th km as well as a bit of abdominal ache. Probably if i had to pick the worst point in the race for me, it had to be the 21st km, where with less than 700m to go i was reduced to a walk for a brief 100 metres or so due to the stitch. Sprinted the remaining distance and was super ecstatic to see the clock read 1:56:02 (later found out that my time was 1:55:59, position 186 overall, 153 amongst men).
It was a splendid race for me - i set a target which i thought was a tough but realistic one, and managed to hit it (for most part atleast). I also know that if i can keep my training consistent and not get injured, i will be able to run faster and longer. Which is the whole point of my running anyway. :)
So thats 4 races this year, 4 different distances and a PR in all of them. Will i ever be able to do this again?