The Rev’s Report:
There is nothing like your local. The Onehunga may be topographically the least appropriate for me and my off road inclinations, but it is such a sweetness to be able to roll out of the house, down the hill and be warmed up by the time I hit the start of this little road gem.
My purpose was clear, set a PB for the half marathon distance. I haven’t really raced the distance properly, my best performance was performed during a marathon back in ’04. I have been feeling in great shape this Winter, and although I haven’t done much work on my speed, I figured a 1:24 or quicker was a reasonable goal.
I met up with the MEC crew at the start. Vern and Ian were down from Warkworth. Sam Thom was there too, looking to kick off his season in style. Bryce had turned up to spectate, seen the great weather and decided to have a crack at the 10k following on from his PB 1:28:59 half at Whangarei last week.
I saw an old Med buddy Reuben at the start and we ran the first km together. He was gunning for a 1:24 finish so it worked out well. Bryce shot off ahead right from the gun. I had to call out for him to turn when he ran past the 10k turnaround. I was feeling good and running at or below 4 minute ks, and lying in about 5th spot. We ran the Onehunga Foreshore Cycleway out and back, then headed out across the old Mangere Bridge to Ambury park. The pace felt quick, but achievable and I left Reuban and a few others behind.
Pretty soon after crossing the bridge, one of the front runners turned and came back – excellent, that meant he was in the 16k and I was now in 4th. I was already quite happy as I could tell that I had more than a minute in the bank up on goal time, and was still feeling good. The Northeaster had picked up and pushed us along to Ambury. I was surprised to see one of Barry McGee’s young Ethiopean runners tie up along this section – Barry is a big mileage man and those boys are fast. But I breezed by him at the 15k, just before the turnaround at Ambury.
The course is dead flat, and mostly off public roads, so is fast and fun. The wind was really driving into us as we headed back to Mangere Bridge, but I had a bit extra to give and plowed on. My right calf was getting quite achey now. I crossed the old bridge, and now passing lots of 16k peeps, I could tell that a low 1:20s time was on. Dad gave me a big cheer at the Onehunga end and I set off hard for the last 2.5k. Bam! The calf muscle bit real hard and a dozen memories of having to walk out of long runs came flooding back. Any other day that would have been game over for the run. But I didn’t get that far and that close to a PB to walk away. An injury had already occurred, I either stop running and be injured, or run on, see if I can hold out for a good time, and be injured.
So I dug in. I tried to take the load off the calf, I pushed on my glutes, I grimaced. I kept going. Remarkably, my pace was not too bad – still around 4 minute ks. I could see no one over my shoulder and just hung on. My strong finish was not so much a lift in pace, as holding pace despite a bit of pain. I crossed in 1:22:48, 3rd place.
So, mission accomplished. I’m hobbling now, and may need some time off to rehab this leg, but I’ve gotten quite good at that over the last few years.
It was a great day in the sun and wind with the MEC crew and our loud supporters. So nice to have the whanau out in force. I need to let you know that I was joined in setting a PB by Sam Thom, who was looking very good throughout and brought it home in 1:27:09 for 7th place. Bryce Robinson too was sensational, WINNING the 10k in 38:45 – so good my man! Rich Drake ran the 16k in 1:16:59 for 5th place.
Ian felt a bit disappointed with his 1:39, Vern was OK with his 1:55; and Stu was disappointed that the marshall had directed most of the 10k field to turn early, giving them a 7k race (of which he won the Masters section in 38min)! Only Bryce and a few front runners avoided the dodgy marshall!
Still, a great day, with lots of success from our team. It may be a bit flat for my running preferences, but I’m sure I will return again and again. Go local!
Bryce Robinson’s Report:
Woke up 6:30am ready to go and watch Mike race. Wasn’t really planning at all to do the race as cash was a bit tight but when I saw it was an overcast still day I threw my running gear in just in case! As I drove to the race the possibility of me competing entered my mind. When I arrived at the reserve the music was pumping and the atmosphere was buzzing and I really started feeling it! Quickly I changed into my gear and went for a wee jog up the road just to feel how the legs were. My archilles felt a bit tight and my shin a bit tender but otherwise okay. Did a few accelerations and legs were turning over smoothly. Everything felt right, so I thought why not? I jogged back to the reserve and signed up for the race!
The start was exciting I got towards the front for the start and when the hooter sounded I started quick. I accelerated from the main pack and found myself running near the front at a fast speed. Was feeling positive everything was good. Ran the first km in 3.30 and realized that I had started too quick! I pulled back the pace and ran the next km at 3.45. I thought if I hold this pace I should go sub 40 which would be great. Things seemed to be going smooth until I ran past the turnaround for the 10km race. Fortunately Mike was behind me and shouted at me to turn back. I quickly turned and by the time I got back to the turn sign the second placed guy was already turning. I managed to get past him and kept the pace on with him chasing me. I could hear his footsteps and hear his heavy breathing as he tried to reel me in. The pace was quick for me and I was leading the race, but I was full of self doubt as to whether I could hold him off for much longer. I could hear him coming and finally I slowed and he ran past coming onto Orpheus drive. I was gutted realizing that I had started too quick and felt like I had no answer. So I sat in behind him and tried to recover as best as I could knowing that if I could stay in touch I might have a chance at a sprint finish.
Coming off the bridge I could hear the PA at the finish and the announcer saying that the race could be decided by a sprint finish. My moment had arrived and I let loose with a burst of speed and accelerated past him and kept the pace on. The heavy breathing and footsteps behind me disappeared and I tried to keep the heat on to distance myself from him in case I exploded before the finish! My lungs were burning and my legs felt numb I was praying for the finish to come. Finally the welcome sight of the finish appeared and I crossed in 38:45 winning the race and achieving a PB. What a moment. Intense pain gave way to elation as I realized what had just happened! When the discomfort subsided I got to relax and enjoy what was a really special moment for me. Maybe next year I might come a little more prepared!