Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon Report by Sean Greenhill23 May 1999
Executive Summary- I beat my goal time by two minutes, finished my first Half, and had a ball. However, the Dead Runners get together didn't really eventuate )-:
Long Story- I arrived at the starting venue in the Rocks around 6.40am after spending the previous hour deciphering the confusion wrought on the Sydney train system by trackwork this weekend. After using the toilets and talking to a couple of familiar faces, I walked back up Lower Fort Street to Keith White's house, which was being used as a "base" by the Striders competing in the race (I joined Sydney Striders a fortnight ago). Kevin and Dawn Tiller and their hyperactive flock were there also.
Assembling at the start further down Lower Fort Street, it was exceptionally humid, wet from overnight rain, and mist was forming a light envelope over surroundings. Above it, the sky was clear. Four and a half thousand runners took off at the start, first walking, then trotting, and a few fell in the surge forward. The first kilometre was a gentle jog as the runners were too closely packed to run freely. There was a lot of pushing, nudging and jockeying for position, so I drew up alongside Grahame Kerruish and took my mind off forcing the pace as I talked to him for the next few minutes (in that Mountain Man t shirt he's hard to miss). Eventually I accellerated (don't think I was actually going fast or anything) as we ran under the Harbour Bridge, through the Rocks, past Circular Quay and onto George Street. My calves were very tight and inflexible, but they loosened up ascending the surprisingly tough Hunter Street hill.
Usually in a race, be it Ultra or 10K, I usually latch onto one or two people of seemingly similar ability to myself and pace off them. In a long race, we'll talk away, in a 10K we'll be breathing too hard for any talk, but they'll still be there. This race was unusual in that I didn't pace off anyone. I saw several faces a number of times along the way but did not run in concert with anyone. And after a while, I stopped paying serious attention to the kilometre splits, another thing I track in other races. In reality I wasn't sure whether to go hard like a 10K or be more controlled like the long stuff, the result being a number of my kilometre splits didn't make a lot of sense. I suspect my speed was quite uneven.
Turning off Macquarie Street into Art Gallery Road for the leg through the Domain, a cheer went up ahead as the leaders turned OUT of Art Gallery Road, having already completed that undulating leg. Further on, the road splits in two, and the runners coming back the other way were silhouetted in the morning mist. It was a great sight in a run that is full of scenery, although I missed a lot of it. The Ben Chifley statue on Hunter Street, Mrs Macquaries Chair, the Boy Charlton Pool, I missed them all in this race. Perhaps next year.
On the Art Gallery Road leg my energy levels fluctuated quite a bit, I felt bad, then okay, then flat again. Swinging out of that leg, down College Street and through Hyde Park, I felt good enough to ovetake a few people, but was then overtaken by a guy pushing his baby in a stroller! I suppose this race is assuming more and more of the "Fun Run" atmosphere of it's cousin, the City To Surf. I did not see that particular guy again.
I missed a few kilometre markers, but guessed my 10K came up in 53 minutes. Back under the Bridge, and out on the second loop. A number of people walked the Hunter Street hill this time. My legs felt stiff going up it, but loosened up within a minute of cresting the top. My main bother was the amount I was sweating. I felt comfortable, even in this high humidity, but my shoes were loudly squelching every step I took. By the end, every swing of my arms sent a spray of sweat off my fingers, elbows and peak of my cap.
After again feeling flat on Art Gallery Road and good enough afterwards to overtake people, my legs were stiffening up from the beating the asphalt roads were inflicting. Concentrating on lifting my knees, I was able to gradually build up speed over the last kilometre along Hickson Road, then sprint the last 50 metres (as much as I could sprint in the crush of the finish) to close the deal in 1.53.45.
I headed back up to Keith White's house, surprised at how good my legs felt. A quick shower, then Kevin Tiller (who did not race- he minded the kids) and I wandered down the road to the Hero Of Waterloo pub at about 10.10am to see if there were any Deads there. None, although apparently Guy Griffin had already been and left the White's house before I arrived.
Kevin couldn't stay- Dawn had set a PB in a new pair of shoes but had blisters so bad she was hobbling quite badly. Her old racers had been stolen the week before, so she had to use a "non broken in" pair. They both left so she could out her feet up at home. I stuck my head in the Hero again at about 10.40 but again, I didn't see anyone.
Now this evening, my legs are slightly stiff and the ball of my right foot is quite sore (it's been sore for several weeks), but otherwise I'm in good nick. With a little more experience over the distance, I think I could enjoy this kind of race even more.
Sean has also written the following articles that are published on CoolRunning Australia :