Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Race Report: St Claire Vineyard Half Marathon

The St Claire Vineyard Half Marathon was all the excuse I needed to head to New Zealand for a holiday with a group of friends.

It seems to be set up more as a community event than a serious race. Two thousand competitors are split between runners, hybrids (people aiming to run and walk) and walkers. There are musicians situated around the course and snack stands serving sauvignon blanc gelati, manuka honey sweets and a few other delights.

Those who run with me know that I take events (a bit too) seriously. Did I stop for for an ice cream? No way, I was there to try and win!

This is the first race I've run since joining the Sydney Striders. I decided to wear my club singlet and felt pretty conspicuous on the start line as I was the only person wearing club colours. Taking a pre-race Gu made me stand out even more.

The race started at the very sociable time of 9am. The race briefing was scheduled for 8:50am. It only took couple of minutes and they started the race early. A bit unconventional.

I went shooting off with the leaders who were running 3m 50sec per km pace. I knew that I couldn't live with that sort of pace so after half a kilometer dropped back. To around 4m 20sec per km pace.

The course was absolutely stunning and is by far the most beautiful race that I've run. The course ran across several vineyards and we were either running between rows of vines, up on flood levies with sweeping views of the valley or running along the banks of the Wairau river. Apart from one short section it was a pretty even surface considering it was cross country.

Four days before the race I'd had a my first ever coaching session with Keith Bateman. In a nutshell (I might elaborate in a separate post) I was told that I run totally incorrectly and he sought to start rebuilding my running style.

How should I run? In the way I always have done or trying to follow the new technique for which I hadn't built the right muscular strength yet? I tried the new approach. It went quite well up until 13km when I started to get quite fatigued and then my action fell into a bit of a hybrid.

Running at 4m 20sec per km pace is faster than I've managed to run before over a whole half marathon. It was strenuous, yet manageable to keep going, all at the same time. I was hoping (as has been the case in my marathons) that I'd start to pick off some other competitors close to the end of the race as they tired. Unfortunately this didn't happen until the last kilometer where I managed to over take four people.

I finished 27th overall in a 1hr 30min 34sec which is a new personal best for me. If I'd realised how close I was to breaking 1hr 30min I might have tried to go a bit more quickly!

The official results are here.

Data from my watch is here.

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