Race report: Brisbane Half Marathon

August 27, 2009 at 01:47PM     Running

Brisbane Marathon Festival logo
On Sunday I ran in the 2009 Brisbane Half Marathon. As regular readers will know, I've been training for the half marathon since I arrived in Brisbane in March. (Actually, I started back in Waterloo before I left, but had not adopted a solid training plan until I arrived here.)

Brisbane Half Marathon starting line
In Australia, people like to run early. I guess they are scared of the heat. The race started at 6am Sunday morning. That seemed a bit on the early side for me, but then I was only running the half marathon, and some of the marathoners would be out there for 4+ hours. The weather has been temperate the last few months, but we've got a bit of a heat wave going on at the moment, so it ended up being fortunate for the marathoners that we started so early: by 10am, it was 25°C.

Brisbane Half Marathon along the river
I awoke at 4:45am, which was not as painful as I expected as I had been shifting my sleeping schedule over the course of the past week. Even so, I don't like getting up while it's still dark. I had laid everything out nicely for the next morning in case of brain failure, but the brain was working fine. As I walked through the city, some people will still enjoying their Saturday evening; it was still hopping around the Casino. As I crossed the bridge to the South Bank, the sky started to lighten, and by the time I reached the other side morning was about to begin.

Brisbane Half Marathon and the Brisbane skyline
The race started without incident and wasn't too crowded. My chip time (i.e., when I crossed the start line) was only 11.7 seconds off the gun time (i.e., when the race actually started).

I hadn't planned the race out very much in advance. I did have some goals: #1: finish; #2: beat last year's race time (1:57:20); #3: beat this year's best training run (1:51:37). To accomplish goal #3 I needed a pace of about 11.5km/hr, so my plan mostly consisted of going at least that fast the whole race. Beyond that, I was just going to run.

Running in the Brisbane Half Marathon
And run I did. I started out a bit faster than I had planned; I guess that's pretty common. Around the three or four kilometre mark, I realized that my watch distance was about 4% off of the course distance. To explain: my watch uses GPS signals to track distance. It's fairly accurate, but in city areas where there are tall buildings, the signal reflects off the buildings, making the watch think it's moving around more than it actually is. As a result, the watch thought I had gone 4.16km when I'd only gone 4.0km. This meant as well that my pcae was about 4% under as well, which worried me a bit. I decided to pick up the pace a bit, and turned in some really strong kilometres from 6km through to 14km (I ran kilometre 6 at 13.2km/hr!), then started to feel it a bit at 15km. I think kilometre 15 also involved running over a bridge, and by that time even the slightest uphill was annoying. I'd love to be able to say that the last kilometre was a sprint to the finish, but my legs just wouldn't go any faster than they were gonna go, but they did the job and got me across the finish line.

Sprint to the finish of the Brisbane Half Marathon
And to what a time! I'm happy to report that, according to the official results, my chip time was 1:43:38.0, a full 13 minutes and 39 seconds faster than last year's time of 1:57:17. I'm very happy with this time and how the run went, I felt good through the whole run but was still pushing myself pretty hard.

Brisbane Half Marathon race number
My running companion for the race was my trusty iPod shuffle. Some friends on Facebook provided some great suggestions and I filled the rest of the playlist with some inspirational classics (We are the Champions, by Queen) and some of the Canadian indie music I trained to from CBC Radio 3. The song that was playing as I crossed the finish line was my favourite song of 2008, Tessellate, by Tokyo Police Club. (It wasn't entirely coincidental that that song was playing then, sometimes fate needs a little fast forwarding.)

My friend Dan and I had been talking about running a full marathon later this year, but I was putting off deciding until after the half to see how it went. With such a great race under my belt, the plan is now to keep training for the Toronto Marathon on Sunday, October 18, 2009. Scary, and exciting!