Date: 2 October 2016
We have now officially exhausted the last bit of our running memory. No more long-runs without a bit of training first.
When friends invited us to join them for the half marathon, I thought to myself, yeah, why not. So we entered, knowing very well that I’m tempting fate (more accurately, tickling the lion’s testicles) and it’s only a matter of time before the wheels come off. As it rightfully did.
As we’ve done this event previously, I knew that it’s a fairly hilly business. Starting at Pukekura racecourse, you make your way down towards the sea in the first couple of kilometres. A nice little downhill, only to have to chip away at the relentless hill for the next 10km. A slow and arduous task. This takes you into the country towards Mt Taranaki surrounded by beautiful farmlands.
It rained a fair bit in the days before the event and waking in the middle of the night to pouring rain, I was expecting a very wet run. At registration the day before, we were told that certain grassy areas were off limits for parking, as it was too wet and cars will get stuck. Luckily we were all dropped off and picked up by Deon, so didn’t have to worry about it.
When we arrived, a few spits of rain accompanied us on the walk to the start. A long queue of participants was huddled up under the narrow roof of the pavilion, and it was nice to see a few other familiar faces. Shortly after, the rain stopped altogether and we ended up having the most gorgeous weather for the whole run. Overcast with just a light wind and not cold at all. How lucky can one be!
Although my game plan was to take it very slow – running doesn’t come naturally to me, I have to train really heard to run anything further than 10km – I was sore from about 1km in. My hip hurt more than usual, my knees were sore and after not too long my feet also started to complain. But, nonetheless, I tried to ignore the discomfort and enjoy the morning out in the country. Dark clouds were looming and I expected it to start pouring any minute. Luckily it never did.
The second half is overall more downhill, but at 16km another surprise hill forced me to a stroll. At the top, I managed to get going again, but in the final few kilometres my walk breaks became more frequent. The last hill at 19km nearly broke the donkey’s back and all I could think was that any small bump in the road will send me flying. “Lift your feet” became my mantra, but it had no effect whatsoever. I realised that if your mind doesn’t resonate with a mantra, it will simply ignore it. I’m sure if I said fall flat on your face, it would have complied, as laying down was all I could think about at the stage.
By the time we reached the lap of horror on the race course, I was the walking dead. Reaching the finish hadn’t felt this good in a long time. With a medal around my neck, we struggled to the pavilion to meet up with Deon while we waited for the others to come in.
On the bigger side of events boasting more than 700 runners and walkers across all 3 distances (262 in the half marathon), a very impressive 61 participants did their first half marathon at this year’s installment. The New Plymouth Joggers and Walkers club must be doing something right.
A well run event. Four water points on course with water only, but with a couple of kilometres to go, containers with jelly beans brought some relief to a tired body and mind. I cannot fault any part of the organisation. With heaps of marshals and volunteers out on the course, everything ran smoothly.
We went back for prize-giving where Gerry won a popcorn maker. Happy with that, I couldn’t help but also be a bit worried about my hip problem that’s been taking a turn for the worse after another half marathon on no training. Off to the physio with me then.