After a lay-off of ages (and I really mean AGES – it’s been 2 years since we last participated in a road race, and since then our training has been more off than on) we recently decided to make a concerted effort to get back on the road. And knowing ourselves, we realised this was not going to happen if we didn’t have something to train for. So we entered the Classic Hits Run Mahana Half Marathon, scheduled for 1 December.
To make it to a level of fitness that would more or less get us through a 21.1km race by the start of December, we set some intermediate ‘long run’ targets – a 10km run a few weeks ago, 12km the week after that, and then, as our first race in a long, long time, the 15.4km second leg of the Kahuterawa Classic, a marathon split over 3 legs and two days, hosted by our local running club, the Manawatu Striders.
We did only the middle leg of a three leg marathon (consisting of 7km on Saturday morning, 15.4km on Saturday afternoon, and 21.6km on Sunday morning), so we did not have the added pressure of having to get up early, as is usually the case in running events. Our 15km session started at 1pm in the afternoon for the runners, and 12:30 for the walkers. Arriving just in time to see the field of 14 walkers setting off, we had ample time to enter, have a chat to Alister and a few other members of the Manawatu Striders, and see the rest of the 25-strong field of runners arrive in dribs and drabs. One of the more fascinating participants arriving at the start line was Mike Tennant, a local runner on a quest to run 52 Half Marathons (or longer) in 52 weeks, all to raise money for Hospice. Check out his fascinating quest on 52in52.org.nz.
Being our first race in such a long time, we felt a ping of apprehension when the race got underway. Luckily we soon fell into a comfortable rhythm close to the back of the pack – a position we pretty much kept up for most of the race. Less than 2km into the race, we came to the first of many nasty little hills scattered across the fist half of the course. We bravely jogged (if you can call our shuffle a jog) up most of the first hill, but quickly realised in our current state of fitness this might not be the best idea, so we settled into a pattern of running the flat bits and downhills, and walking the uphills. Luckily our current training programme includes a walking session at the end of each daily run, which made the walks uphill a lot easier than they may have been otherwise.
The course, run in the foothills of the Tararua ranges, started with a hilly on-road section on sealed and unsealed roads, followed by a lovely undulating single-track. The single track led back to a dirt road which gave way to another section on tar, before we finished with a hilly track across Dransfield’s farm, which returned us to the wool shed serving as race headquarters.
Thanks to the amazing scenery, and the running variety provided by the hilly terrain, the kilometres ticked over at a nice rate, and before we knew it we were were on the final downhill towards the finish. We crossed the finish line in a time of 1 hour and 46 minutes, right on our planned 7 min/km pace, despite the very tough terrain. Pretty happy with our outing, we returned home with that familiar post-race glow, when you know you’ve made your target for the day, and deserve spending some quality relaxation time.