Success, after coming so close back in 2016 with a time of 1:30:09 at the Gold Coast I’ve long had the goal of cracking 90mins for the half marathon.
Today that finally happened… 1:29:15 🏃♂️💨
To get there I changed my training regime and worked on becoming more consistent in my training in 2020 by trying to keep a higher base fitness rather than the perpetual event focused build fitness. After my 2021 attempt was delayed due to COVID and then was unlucky with the weather on the day on the rescheduled date I decided that Gold Coast was the place to do it again.
Fast forward to 2022 and after planning to follow the same lead up events that I followed in 2016 I sadly strained my calf in the days leading up to Noosa 10km which meant training had to be creative. That was just 4 weeks ago.
Race week presented a possible weather hurdle with heavy rain forecasted after having clear weather for what seemed a long time.
Today started with an early alarm and a drive down the coast, I aimed to arrive early to secure a Carpark near the race precinct. It was raining 🙄. Great 👍. 4.30am. 90mins till race time. We planned for this, it’s all good, I tell my head. Grabbed the raincoat and hit the portaloos. No queue. Hooray.
Back to the car for a bit more relaxing and people watching.
5.30am start thinking about another portaloo visit (just in case), it’s stopped raining… what the! Get the race shoes out of the boot and lace up. Poncho on and terrible selfie 🤳 and head to the queue. Multiple lines at the loos, which one is the shortest I try and figure out. Make the call and line up.
Waiting waiting waiting, what the hell are people doing. It’s not 9mins from race start and I’m still 500m from the start line. 🤦♂️ Next minute the loo service people push in line and start stocking up the toilets. I’ve never seen a bunch of runners nearly go lynch mob before but I imagine those service workers might have feared for their lives…
4mins to start time. I’m out and start sprinting to the start line, flapping in the breeze with my poncho. No warm up, no drills, no strides, this wasn’t in the plan. Got closer to the start and nearly had to push people out of the way. I spied a gap in the fence, ripped my poncho off and jumped through. Let’s go. Hang on I’m in the under 90min zone, not my start zone, whoops, I’ll take it as an omen. Without warning, 3, 2, 1, Bang. Gun goes and we are off.
Target 4.14-4.15 min/km. First km 4.06min/km. Oops. Cool the jets. Next 2kms 4.10’s. Feeling good. Let’s just keep rolling. Next 4kms 3x4.08’s and a 4.15. 9-12km starting to slow but still on pace. Must be time for a gel. 41:49 for the first 10km and about 50secs banked. Maurten Caffeine Gel had just after half way.
15-19km was just a grind, slight headwind, tried to tuck in behind people but they just weren’t running a good pace for me. Averaged 4.16-4.19’s. Still on target.
Decided to just hold pace till 20km and then give it a final push. 4.19 pace.
Ok last 1.1km let’s push. Around the final corner before hitting the club tents. Keep focused.
Fly past the club tents to a few shout outs and around the corner into the final 250m. Hammer down. Finish line ahead, time clock just clicks over 1:29, I know I’ve done it, just gotta get across the line now. I throw up the arms to celebrate just before the line and cross at 1:29:15. You beauty!! Feeling a touch emotional, not sure if it’s because I’ve finally done it or is it because I’m just completely knackered.
Big thanks for my Coach Luke from Run Strong, the guidance, the adjustments to program and the general wisdom for getting me to the start line fit and ready.
Also to my previous Coach Gemma as well whom I started this #sub90 project back in 2020.
Huge thanks for Paul from Balanced Runner for all the running form advice too.
Big thanks to my clubs Southbank Tri Club and Fortius Running Club and all my training buddies.
And especially massive thanks to my darling Mel who is there as my number 1 supporter and puts up with me getting up early all the time and creating piles of sweaty activewear.
What’s next? Stay tuned…
Arriving for a practice swim Saturday morning wasn't my brightest idea. I'm a nervous ocean swimmer at the best of times but this miniscule swim in what seemed like massive swell did not help my mindset. From that point until 6am Sunday morning I tried to keep my train of thought on the right track but I had a decent case of nerves (and in hindsight I probably didn't eat enough during that timeframe).
BUT arriving onto the beach Sunday to see rolling clean waves with a rainbow overhead I knew finishing, the swim at least, was in the bag.
Transition was dark and rainy (next time I'll bring a visor with lights). Another lesson... allow more time to squeeze into my wetsuit. The upside to that was I didn't have time to linger on my nerves and went straight to the beach for a calm walk to the Spit.
The starters gun came around quickly and I was off in the rolling start at the tail end of Wave 1. Once I passed the first buoy I found my rhythm and focused on swimming straight and keeping calm. Apart from some abnormal calf cramps in both legs at the 1k point I really enjoyed the swim. All of a sudden it was done and I caught a sneaky little runner into the shore. After passing the exit chute I was elated I had overcome my mental hurdle, now there was only a strangely enjoyable 800m to T1 and 111kms to go thereafter.. easy!
An experienced friend of mine couldn't stress enough 'Nutrition, nutrition, nutrition. Don't miss anything.' So I set my nutrition alerts to 10min intervals on the bike. It seemed excessive but I downed everything I had.. and I was still hungry. (Lesson #543 for next time).
Another piece of advice I was given was 'Don't go too hard on the bike, save ya pins for the run'. Here is where I need to improve considerably. I probably conserved a bit too much energy as I was worried about the return of my calf cramps in the run.
The first lap was pretty windy as expected. Heading north we had a comfortable tailwind and I felt as quick as Quintana but after turning around BAM... hello headwind. The second lap was windy and pouring with rain. Given it was a such a straight course the rain didn't seem all that bad. At least it wasn't scorching hot. With the distraction of the downpours and the lovely Tamborine playing Lady on the Maroochy Bridge, the ride was over before I knew it.
T2 was swift and I was off. The first seven kilometres were great and I felt like I was running on clouds with my new Vaporflys. It was so motivating to hear the cheers (minus the beers) on the hill and to see other SBTC athletes flying around the course. Again I seemed pretty hungry (what is wrong with me) at the 16km mark and was desperate for some fruit at the aid stations but I begrudgingly downed my 88th gel with 5kms to go. The last hill effort hurt but with 1km left to run I was absolutely stoked. My first half ironman was nearly done. I couldn't be happier to see the red carpet and cross the finish line ... yeooow! Doneski!
In a year of such unforeseen circumstances, I think all the athletes who raced were grateful the event went ahead. Thanks to Coach Simon for the detailed plan that kept me motivated and accountable over the cooler months. And to Coach Chris for WHW cycling tips. All those early winter morning sessions paid off.
My goals for the race were to finish in under 6hrs and most importantly enjoy it... otherwise what is the point? I'm happy to say I achieved both of those goals and like any triathlete four days post-race I've set targets for next time. #findfaster #beatyesterday
Simon Brooker is an accredited Multisport and Running Coach based in Brisbane, Australia