So I think my last blog post outlined why I never wanted to do a half marathon again….. well never say never!
A month and a bit later I signed up for the Coffs Running Festival, it’s our hometown race and though I wasn’t really feeling passionate about running, I was excited to be running with the Girlpac and Retro Crews and lots of other Coffs locals and friends. It is a fantastic community event and it’s always great to see all the families out running together.
I hadn’t been feeling the love at training during the lead up to the race, I was just exhausted and to be very honest a bit over it. I had been crook for a time as well with an exploding head and asthma which ultimately was a blessing in disguise as it made me take a much needed rest.
The Coffs Creek Track where we would be running is a track I have run on for years, I could probably run it blind folded and still somehow make my way around. I wasn’t sure if this was a good thing or not but it turns out it is. I love visualising a race in the week before hand and knowing this course so well allowed me to be really specific about how I would execute my race plan. I was going to try and be a little bit smarter in my approach and look at ways I could help myself regroup when I started to struggle and make the course work to my advantage.
I was also lucky enough to enjoy a weekend away before the race and had a very easy week leading into it. Come race day I was feeling well rested and my legs wanted to run. Warming up properly is something I am trying to be more diligent about as I can clearly feel the benefits when I actually take the time to do it.
Standing at the start line with some great friends and training partners was awesome. We have some amazingly talented athletes here in Coffs. The start gun went and we took off, I wanted to get to the narrow bridge at the start before the main group and managed a rather quick first km, I could see the gun runners up ahead in the distance and settled into a comfortable pace behind Joey and Pitto.
Heading into Mt Garner the Retro Media Crew and coach Andy were there to encourage us on. Past some motivational signage and we were back out of the gardens and past the drink station where I took a drink and threw the rest of the water down my back, don’t ask me why, id only ran 2km at this point and certainly wasn’t at the point of overheating yet!
The first lap of the race I found myself on my own for most of the way which was kind of nice as it allowed me to do my own thing but running with others sometimes makes you push harder. I tried to go hard up the rise behind the promenade and then use the speed on the downhill to push out an effort past Englands Park. I could see Mark and Leah way ahead in the distance, smashing it!!
Coming onto the first dirt loop of the track I tried to do some one minute efforts as we had been doing in training, this really helped as I often found I had tuned out and settled into a more conformable 4:30min pace when I really wanted to be pushing a bit harder than that. Coming up the hill to Brodie Drive I again tried to push hard up the slope knowing there was a good downhill run waiting for me once I hit Hogbin Drive.
On the second dirt lap and I had pre- planned a series of mental checkpoints that I would use to motivate myself when it got tough on the second lap of the course. At about the 8km mark Shannon came whizzing past me, I thought that I might try and stay with her for a bit but she was just going way too fast for me, absolutely smashing it and looking like she was loving every minute of it!
Back to the Showground and past Andy and the retro crew who told me I was on track for 90min, and I wasn’t feeling too bad! I thought that I would really struggle with the two lap course but it honestly wasn’t that bad. By the bridge I had caught the runner in front of me and he pushed me hard back up Mt Garner but I then managed to pull away from him, I caught the next runner on the promenade hill and found myself alone again.
I continued to try and push some efforts in around the first dirt loop and then coming into the second dirt lap spotted a bright orange shirt up ahead….Ed! Ok I’ll try and catch him I told myself. I didn’t catch him but it really helped to give me something else to focus on through those last 3km which I usually really struggle with.
I was so fixated on reeling Ed in that I wasn’t paying any attention to my time, someone screamed at me that Joey was trying to chase me down as we came back into the showground and then I heard Joey screaming at me from behind to push hard, hurry up Jan, put the foot down.
It wasn’t till after we crossed the finish line that I realised he was trying to get in under 90min, and we did – JUST (1:29:53)!
I was so stoked to have come in third female and so happy for Leah and Shannon who both had amazing runs and are runners that I really look up to. I was also really happy for Julie who had ran a great race after working hard over the preceding months to get there.
The best thing about the whole race was running with other encouraging people and the support from the crowd and volunteers, I LOVED every minute of it! I was no doubt running slower that I had at the Gold Coast (4:22/km compared to 4:17/km) but I really felt great. I am now really excited for what improvements I can make to hopefully improve my times next year, after a nice break.