Competitors and spectators alike are greeted by a cool & clear autumn day for the start of the SMH half marathon in Sydney.
Perfect running conditions in my book: no rain and temperatures between 10 – 15 degrees Celsius.
The starters are segregated into groups with the elite and “seeded” runners up the front followed by the “preferred” and relay runners.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a previous race time fast enough to get me into the “preferred” start. It would be handy as there will be less of a crowd to contend with.
So I’m in the yellow group, the last to head off.
Yet the crowd of runners thins out before too long and it’s easy enough to establish a steady pace.
Although I commence well, as we head downhill to the beautiful foreshore of Sydney Harbour, my plans go awry around the hills and small streets of Pyrmont.
The main road narrows forcing many runners to negotiate kerbs and street signs to maintain their pace, myself included.
By the 10km mark I have slowed a little but I’m still averaging a 5min pace, just. My target time is 1 hour 45 minutes so this is spot-on.
However, all these climbs slow me down considerably. I know what I have to work on with my future training.
Oddly enough, I’m surprised at how much I’m enjoying the experience. I think the combination of the stunning location together with the crowd of eager competitors striving to do their best provides the perfect environment.
Plenty of people line the course shouting words of encouragement. It’s especially nice to spy my wife amongst the onlookers cheering me on.
What’s more, I’m injury free, a blessing all runners crave.
I pick up the pace along the stretch of road past Barangaroo and find myself in-the-zone.
I love running. It creates such a sense of freedom.
For a short time I forgot that it involves effort. Yes, my muscles are tightening up. But any pain is blissfully ignored as merely temporal and temporary.
Perhaps those “magic” endorphins are kicking-in masking my discomfort?
Either way it’s exciting to think I’m into the home stretch now with two-thirds down and one-third to go.
Around the 18km mark, along the downhill stretch of Art Gallery Rd, I’ve had enough.
This last part is hard and I’m thinking: “keep going, don’t stop, run don’t walk!”
And just when the finish line is in sight, a short but steep hill is placed to separate the men from the boys.
Who’s idea was it to put it there of all places?
The uphill sprint to the finish line can’t come soon enough. It’s over. Yay!
As always, “thank you” to the people that make such a well-organised event possible: the organisers, the volunteers, the sponsors, the supporters, and my fellow pavement pounders.
You’re all awesome!
Kim | marathon runner