Port Macquarie Half Marathon 2020, was my fifth time competing in this event in my home town of Port Macquarie. It’s an event that continues to grow each year and being in my home town is one I’ll try to do each year if i can. It’s a three lap course of a 7km section of the town that winds along the river and coastal areas.
This year the race kind of crept up on me as my training through the start of the year was quite poor. A month or so before the race I decided to focus on linking some solid training weeks together before entering. I put together about 4-5 weeks of good training. I entered a week before the race and felt relatively good going into the race.
My race day plan was to pace myself at close to by personal best 79 min half marathon time and see how long I could hold onto that time. I wasn’t sure I was in that type of shape but decided to put myself in a position to run close to my best if things went well. At the start I saw a few local runners I know with one saying he was aiming for an 80 min half marathon. It was inevitable we were going to spend some time together on course.
The race started in heavy rain which made the roads extremely wet in places with large puddles on course. This was not ideal for fast running. When the race started a couple of small distinct groups formed a group of four guys out front and then a second group of similar size. I was hoping to jump on the back of a group at my pace and let them do the work for 21.1km. This didn’t happen they were running 10 sec/km faster then I wanted to run. So I let them go after 500m and settled into my pace of 3:45 min/km. Unfortunately I had missed a group and took up the pacemaking myself with Adam (friend aiming for 80 min) in hot pursuit. We settled into a rhythm at this pace that felt pretty comfortable early in the race.
For the first lap our two man group traded pacemaking duties with myself leading for the first half of the lap before tucking in for the second half. This worked well and we ran a consistent pace for the first lap. Rain had albeit disappeared now and the conditions were pretty good, much cooler than this race has been in the past and running felt good. We finished the first lap in 9th and 10th position overall and pretty comfortable with how the race was going.
At the start of the second lap I went back to the front and tried to keep the pace as consistent as I could. Running felt comfortable at this point and I just tried to keep relaxed and focus on pacing. There were a couple of runners in the group ahead that had become separated. I was hopeful they may comeback to us and kept an eye on how far they were ahead of us. During this lap I made sure I drank at each aid station and monitored my condition. Which by midway through this lap I was beginning to feel in my legs. In the second half of the lap I sat behind and was able to stay with the consistent pace we were running.
By the end of the second lap I was starting to fatigue. The pace was starting to become harder and I didn’t come to the front to take up the pacemaking. I was able to hold onto the pace but it was becoming difficult. Over the next few kilometres I faded slightly and dropped off the pace. This was earlier then I’d hoped, I still had about 5km to run. I was now hurting in my legs and on my own. I tried to push the pace as hard as I could to the finish but my 3:45’s had now become 4:05 min/km over the final 5km. The last 5km was a tough test, I was happy with how I was able to grit out these kilometres. Unfortunately I was overtaken by two runners in the final 2km who had paced their race beautifully and were running very well near the end of the race. I couldn’t lift my effort as they went by.
I crossed the line in 1:22:40 in 12th pace. Overall pretty happy with this result. Disappointed that I faded in the last 5km but a good assessment of where my training and fitness is currently. I’ve had a difficult running year so far and put together a good month of training and was able to run a pretty good race. There really is no substitute for training and miles in the legs. There’s also nowhere to hide in a half marathon when the wheel become ajar. I’ll be better prepared next time I turn up on a startline.
Another good event in Port Macquarie. Slight course changes due to waterfront construction were fine. There was a bit of chat from runners at the finish about the course measuring slightly long. This can happen and you shouldn’t judge a course by what your GPS watch says, there is simply too much margin for error. No doubt I’ll be back next year.