21 April, 2012

The hotter Half

Last Sunday along with around 1,100 of my newly acquired best friends, I dusted off the running shoes and hit the river. It was the first Sunday after Easter which can only mean one thing - the 24th annual Geelong Half Marathon - and I fronted up for my fourth official attempt.
I hadn't done a great deal of training over any significant distance - one 16km run about a week and a half out from the day - but had been running shorter distances regularly in reasonable times. On Saturday I trotted down to the clubrooms to pick up my running kit and strolled home in the autumn sunshine.
Likewise, Sunday morning dawned sunny, pleasant and by the time we were ready to start running, about 20 degrees, which is great when you're standing around at the starting line wearing little more than a thin layer of Lycra, but five minutes after the starter's gun goes it is a very different matter. By then - as is always the case in warm weather - I am desperate for an instant cold snap.
3km into the run and everyone was still in pretty good shape
Of course I had no such luck and the temperature continued to rise throughout the run. I always find it difficult to drink and run, but given the conditions, I grabbed what I could at the drink stations and tried to get at least some of it into me - a wise decision as it happens.
Water sachet in hand, but not sure where
on the course we were at this point
According to an Advertiser article the next day, two people were hospitalised with heat stroke and quite a number more were treated for dehydration. Luckily I wasn't one of them, however I did see one unfortunate at around the 17km mark who was in quite a bit of distress. By that stage, I was pretty much operating on pure will power which I find is always the case over the last 5km or so.
19km down, 2km to go and yes, I did catch the guy in front,
but the guy behind caught me

It certainly wasn't the day for most of us to be breaking records or beating our PBs, however there was one record broken when Stephen McAdam and Nathan Saber broke the record for the fastest half marathon completed by two men in a camel suit - yes, really! It was of course a charity run which they completed to raise money for Jim Stynes' Reach Foundation. Despite the heat, they made it home 6 minutes inside the time they required and will take their place in the Guinness Book of Records.
Two men in a camel suit, photo from
The Geelong Advertiser
I made it to the finish line in quite a reasonable time considering the weather - only my time from 2010 was better - finishing ahead of 70% of the field and ahead of 84% of the other women in the field. My official position, after a slow start trying to wade through all the opposition was 296th of the 953 of us who finished the race. I didn't manage to crack the - for me - magic time of 1hr 45min, but 1hr, 46min, 21sec will have to do.
The crowd welcoming home the stragglers
This year's event was the biggest field to date, despite the hot conditions. If the numbers continue to increase as they have over recent years, then I'm not sure how they are going to fit us all on the track next year. Whatever they do, we can only hope that the weather on 7th April, 2013 is a little cooler than the 15th April was this year!

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