When the Rebel Run Sydney dropped into our inbox last year we made a mental note of it but, at only 10km, it was barely long enough to justify putting the running shoes on, especially given it was held out at Olympic Park. This year, however, the organisers added a half marathon distance to the event and that was enough for us to sit up and take notice.
The guys in my life, however, had other ideas. In fact both of them ganged up on me and Coach Dave had no hesitation joining St Pete in deciding that I should enter it as well. Well, what the hell - I didn't put up too much of a fight, and what's another training day, just with the bonus of a medal at the end of it?! D, however, had another very good reason for me to add this to the calendar.
The coach's nirvana - I would aim for a negative split. Oh joy.
My running's been going great this year, but they've all been characterised by the traditional problem of starting strong and fading at the end, whereas the goal of coaches all over is for us to start out slow, build throughout the distance and finish strong. So you do the second half of the race faster than the first half, hence the negative split terminology.
So finish time today wasn't of any interest. What I needed to do was run each 5km split faster than the previous 5km, and I was given the following times to aim for:
1st 5km: no faster than 6min 15sec pace
2nd 5km: no faster than 6min 00sec pace
3rd 5km: no faster than 5min 45sec pace
final 6km: own choice (a.k.a. "go like hell!")
We also managed to rope in bootcamp buddy, Sarah, to join us - although I was under no illusion that I'd keep up with either of them!
After a bit of a delay the gun goes off and we're running. Sarah disappears into the distance and within a minute I've lost sight of her. Pete decides he needs a toilet stop and so he deviates as soon as we cross the start line, however storms past me at the 850m mark - in race mode and not even slowing to acknowledge my existence. Nice…lol.
I get going, though, and try to focus on finding a pace and slowing it down.
Not very successfully, however. First km goes by - 5min 48sec. Oops, a bit fast. Try and peg it back a bit for the 2nd km. Nope that didn't work either - 5min 35sec. Faster than the first kilometre!
I carry on like this for the first 5km, not feeling flash - no real rhythm, feeling like I'm working too hard and way too conscious of the people running past me.
Don't run everyone else's race.
Finally after 5km had ticked by things started to fall into place. I felt as though everything was flowing a bit better and I was able to relax into a steady rhythm that wasn't expending too much energy. There was possibly a good reason why it had taken time to get into it though. I had run that first 5km faster than I should have, with an average pace of 5min 50.5sec. Oops. Sorry Coach :)
The second 5km was much better and I went through that second stage marginally faster (5min 50 pace). Still faster than had been planned but also sticking to the plan of the second 5km split being faster than the first!
At around the 13km mark I started to become aware of people slowing down around me. Either that or I was picking things up a bit. I was feeling pretty good though, and so started occupying my mind with the game of picking off the next person in front of me. From that point on I started making my way up the field, focusing on passing people and being aware of the fact that no one went past me for that last 8km.
I felt strong, physically and mentally, and was confident enough to back myself and keep the pressure on. That 3rd 5km split went by in an average 5min 45sec pace - exactly what coach had wanted. Now I just had 6km to go and could do whatever pace I wanted. Does that mean I could walk if I wanted????
There were plenty of people to pass and that's all I was interested in doing. Hold the pace, keep the form strong and don't stop until you get to the end.
The final 100m is a right hand turn as you head down under the grandstand and then another right hand turn into the ANZ stadium to the finish line and as we headed through the tunnel I
Great run, and while it was 2 minutes off my PB that didn't matter. What did matter is that although I started out faster than I was supposed to I still managed to improve my pace for each 5km split.
Coach will be smiling :)