I have been in Motueka for the weekend to run the Kaiteriteri Gold Half Marathon on Saturday. It was a tune up race in my training for the Rotorua full marathon in May. I usually do well in races organised by Nelson Events. This time I assumed I would too.
And I did. Theoretically. With a time of 1:42:33 I was the 28th runner home out of 127 entrants. Fifth woman overall. Second in my age group. I should be chuffed but I am not. I am accepting.
I had had ideas of blowing my PB (1:35:15) out of the water. The night before heading north I had gone online and with a race time calculator I had prepared split times for a predicted race finish of 1:32. I don’t know why I felt so confident. I had been skipping speed sessions and feeling lacklustre for weeks. Most runs began with me wondering if I would ever feel fast and strong again.
But I was cocky. Cocky and I have history. I usually come out worse when we get together. I am much better at sandbagging, of breaking my own tall poppy stem.
I had checked out the elevation profile and I was only expecting one decent sized one. But driving along the course to the start, up and over plenty of hills, I discarded any thoughts of a PB! I didn’t even bother to look at my possible split times.
One thing which had concerned me was that I had eaten Thai the previous night. All I had wanted was a nice risotto but there are not many choices in Motueka, especially for fussy gluten free runners. I had hoped Pad Thai with tofu would do. It didn’t. Upset the tummy and related organs in the lower torso big time.
The event was a typical Nelson Events production. Very well organised in beautiful surroundings. The start was outside a major holiday park and competitors were able to use toilet facilities (and showers afterwards). I was grateful for both of those. Ideal weather conditions ideal with no wind, light cloud and comfortable temperature. Literally the calm before the storm as Tropical Cyclone Lusi was still making her way down the North Island.
I arrived with plenty of time to register. Warm-up was good. The two kilometre easy jog rid my muscles of the usual lethargy. People were relaxed and social. It was a friendly atmosphere.
I checked out the competition. I saw a young girl (early 20s) who had looking into our running club but found us wanting. I needed to beat her! There were a lot of speedy and skinny looking women. (I do not think of myself as either. Even though I know people possibly look at me and think similar thoughts.)
I set off strong and slightly more aggressive than I typically do. We were straight into a hilly section and by the third kilometre I have passed the young girl. I figured I was about sixth woman. When I pass someone early I am always afraid of a late race fade which allows everyone to catch and pass me back. As I powered past a couple of burly looking older men I heard one comment, “she could use some of my weight.”
Strong up the big hill out of Riwaka, I passed another female. Coming down the other side I could hear a light footed runner catching me. I was worried it was her, it was not. But it did make me lean forward and run with gravity on my side. I really flew down the other side. I also knew my quads would not be happy on Sunday.
Into the flat, up towards Marahau and a turn around. I could count the leaders as they passed back. I was fifth woman . But young chicky babe had caught me a little. Bugger. This meant I could not slack off.
There were seven kilometres left to run, and most of them were hills. Just one kilometre at a time. Onwards and upwards. I knew they were long. I thought I had three peaks. So I was pleasantly surprised to realise I had run out of distance and was heading doen. Round the final corner and there were the golden sands of thr finish beach.
The last 500m were tough. Coming off those hills and trying to find a speedy sprint finish. I felt like I was Lee Major without the speed. And who had the bright idea to put the finish on the beach making us run across soft sand.
I finished. I stood in the sea for about five minutes. I had the best massage on my legs ever, lying in an open sided tent with the waves providing the ambient soundtrack. Then I showered and wore compression tights for the rest of the day. Today (Sunday) I am reminded of the downhills but not unbearably so.
Looking at my Garmin I ran a negative split which is highly desirable. The first 10k was 49 minutes. The next 10k was 48 minutes. Average race pace is faster than optimum marathon pace for Rotorua which considering all the hills is confidence boosting.
Now I am home again. The rain is still falling but there is no wind. My club mates have stalked my results and are checking I am happy. No. But I accept that yesterday I left nothing on the course. 1:42 was the best I had. Second place was all I deserved. The woman who beat me for first place did so convincingly. By the time I crossed the line she had showered, changed, boiled the jug and made the scones. Well, not quite – it was only six minutes! It just feels like an eternity.
“A runners creed: I will win; if I cannot win, I shall be second; if I cannot be second, I shall be third; if I cannot place at all, I shall still do my best.”
“Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent.” Marilyn vos Savant
“Always enjoy yourself. Don’t be upset if you don’t win, you’ve won by simply not giving up.” Unknown