Saturday, August 17, 2013

Bathurst half marathon 2013 - AKA the only race I have ever really LOVED

Let me do my best to remember this many moons after I actually ran it (it was early May. So.. uhh....over three months ago. Whooooops).

This race was about three weeks after my previous half marathon, which was awesome timing because it involved minimal additional training, and for somebody who likes running long distances, I am super, suuuuuper lazy.

I signed up for the Bathurst Half Marathon on a whim, just a few days before the race. My decision was heavily influenced by the following things:

1. Close to where my parents live, so I could turn it into a weekend visit, and stay with them either side of the race itself.
2. Really cheap entry free.
3. Start time of 9AM. I've never started a race later than 7, so the thought of a sleep-in appealed to me big-time.
4. The promise of "the best free sausage sizzle in New South Wales". That is a big call, my friends, and I was ready to see if it lived up to its reputation.

Let's just cut right to the chase... THIS WAS MY FAVOURITE RACE EVER.

Honestly. Gosh. Wow. I loved it.

I stayed with my mum in a hotel the night before the race (we had an absolute FEAST at an Irish pub on the Saturday night, and followed it up with enormous ice cream sundaes). I got up at about 7 on Sunday, did some dynamic stretches and foam rolled/trigger point massaged myself, ate avocado on toast and drank some coffee, and walked the kilometre or so to the start.

Tip: this is how you correctly fuel before a race.

It's a really small event (less than 100 people in the half marathon, I think), and everyone was above and beyond friendly and helpful and accommodating. I loved how EASY everything was with so few people. Once we arrived at the start, I picked up my bib, used their bathrooms, etc... all completely line free. Oh heavens it was wonderful. I made my way to the start line and had no problem getting a spot right where I wanted.

The event consists of a 10km and a half marathon, with the half marathon course basically just two-and-a-bit laps of the 10km course. It's a BEAUTIFUL course, running along the river, then through farm land (at one point there were horses galloping along next to me. It pretty much made my life. Except that they were much, much faster and graceful than I am, which was a little upsetting).

I was so impressed by the really cool, supportive vibe of the race (and this is from someone who hates the word 'vibe', so it's a big deal). As the race leaders passed us lowly slow plebs, they were cheering for us, encouraging us to keep going, and one even offered me some gummi bears. What a champ (in every way). Despite being a small event, there's some pretty tough competition - a lot of pros who grew up in the area come back to run their 'hometown race', just because it's such a great atmosphere.

I kind of feel like writing about my running itself is irrelevant, because pretty much as soon as I started I knew I wasn't feeling up to anything ambitious - my legs were just TIRED and so, so heavy. My whole bosy felt a little wrecked and I just wasn't able to pick up any speed. But that was pretty okay with me, because once I realised what a fun, nice race this was, I just kind of wanted to enjoy it.

My game face was not very fierce that morning. My legs felt like my phone looks...

That said, I pretty much just cruised on around 5:25 minute kilometres the whole way, with a few breaks due to some majoooor blister issues. I HATE having to stop.. especially to do something as annoying as sit on the ground and do makeshift first aid on myself. But given I'd kind of written this race off as 'just for fun', it didn't bum me out as much as it normally would've.

The weather (cold, foggy morning that gave way to perfect blue skies - AKA all the best bits of autumn) and scenery were gorgeous and the course is pretty much all flat, and a great mix of road/foothpath/dirt. I think that if I were to do it again - and I plan to - I could run some pretty good times on this course. I do, however, mentally struggle ENORMOUSLY with races where the groups break apart - seeing the 10km people cross the finish line while I had to do it all over again bummed me out like you would not believe. And with my feet such bleeding mangled wrecks, I really, reaaaaally wanted to turn off, cross the line, and hope they'd let me count it as a 10km race. But I didn't, and once I got into the second lap, I found my groove a little more and became kind of immune to how much my feet hurt.

The second time through just FLEW by. I loved how few people were running - there were stretches where I couldn't see anyone in front of or behind me, and it just felt like a solo run in the countryside AKA it ruled.

There was one annoying lady who kept overtaking me, then stopping to walk. So I'd overtake her. And then she'd overtake me.....and stop to walk. What? Anyway, with a kilometre to go, I downed half a Gu (why didn't I do this earlier?!) and blasted her. I wish there'd been photography at the race, because my majestic (pained, desperate) sprint finish would've been worth sharing I think.

I loved, loved, loved having my mum there to hug at the finish line as well. She's never been able to come to any races before, and there is nothing quite like a mummy-hug when you're tired and wrecked and over-emotional (except maybe a daddy-hug - which I was lucky enough to get when I finished my first - okay, only - full marathon).

The other untold perk of this race? The best post race snacks ever! I will never accept measly apples and bananas again.
I finished in 1:57:22 - my slowest ever half marathon. But given how many times I stopped and performed roadside surgery on my feet, I couldn't believe I finished in under 2 hours. Also? Given the small number of entrants, I still finished 23rd female, which sounds pretty respectable and more impressive than it is ;)

No medals at this race... but a DIY finishers certificate where you write in your own time. Big mistake. According to me, I ALWAYS set a new world record.

The event is followed by the aforementioned sausage sizzle (which I felt too Gu-gross to try, but my mum gave it the thumbs up) and a raffle for all entrants with prizes donated by local businesses. I really wanted a stick mixer but alas, it was not my day.

 I think many people were very grateful to this pair of gloved hands.

Afterwards, I went with mum to the local RSL club for a delicious greasy lunch (my appetite came back... very passionately) and drove home to their house, where I surveyed my damaged feet and napped for the rest of the day - AKA what seems to be my post-race ritual.

I apologise for this in advance. Please don't puke. I tried to make it into a cute little collage to make it more aesthetically appealing!



I tried to take pre-emptive action against blisters after my last half... note: this is not a particularly effective strategy. As I'm sure you've figured out.
(And yes, I do travel with my foam roller and baseball everywhere I go.)

Aaaaaaaand that is that. I haven't run any races since, but have a couple kiiiind of semi planned for later this year. And you'll all be pleased to know that I have invested in shoes that don't make my feet roll in/completely destroy them - my Innov8 shoes have totally changed my life. Who knew that hardly any support would mean my feet stayed in a better position? Not me. That's why I'm lucky to have a very clever personal trainer/bedmate ;)

So: all in all, Bathurst half marathon was the bomb. I can't wait to go back next year, to either do the half again, or perhaps the 10km. And I encourage you all to road trip with me... I promise we can get sundaes the night before/morning of ;)


  1. holy hell girl - those blisters!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. This makes me so happy. I've read so many race recaps where bloggers are griping and sad and chastising themselves over their times, and so focused (crazily, to my mind) on a mere matter of seconds/minutes/time in general that it seems like they're not running for enjoyment or love or joy, but to "beat" themselves. So I love that you loved this run because you were running, and because the simple fact that you were running is amazing.

    I'm not saying this very well. I think I just mean that a post like this is probably the only way to make me think positively about running long distances. Because it's about pleasure and joy and doing it for you, because you want to, because it was good to. Does that make sense? Shhh, Hannah.