October 2, 2010: This race was nearly over before it began. Having run myself into the ground with too many races in the summer, and coupled with - in hindsight - ill-suited shoes, I had had ITB trouble that had made it painful to run. In "exercise bike exile" for several weeks, I had just about got myself into a pain free state. I guessed that my fitness had taken a dive due to the lack of training kms.
First of all, I lost my race number after picking up my package. I walked all the way back to the store having got on the train and realized I'd lost it. On my way back to the train, there it was sitting next to a drain. Like I'd found a bar of gold, I held it up high grinning "I've got it". I would now be running with a footprint on my number.
All this got me in a relaxed frame of mind. I now had a footpod to go with my Garmin FR60, so could pace myself. I had printed wristbands again. I set my watch to pace me from beating last year's time (1.38:07) to a half-marathon overall PB (1.34:05). No pressure, as I was genuinely expecting strong discomfort or hitting the wall within 5km.
A frantic but bump free start ensued, and I pretty much stayed with the leaders. After passing between 2 large rocks and a 90 degree left about 1km in, I checked my speed and let 3 or 4 runners pull ahead. The early hill seemed easier than last year, allowing the thought to enter my mind that this might be a good day. All was well even hammering down the gravel hill into Fish Creek park.
Halfway, and I was about 30 seconds inside PB pace. Going strong. I needed the pacing function on my watch though. I found myself slipstreaming a guy in red for a couple of minutes when the "pace low" warning sounded. As I went past, I could hear somewhat laboured breathing from him.
At km15, I was still ahead and now increasingly surprised. As I passed a spectator I said out loud, "where's this coming from?" "What?"
Sikome Lake hill time. Gradually overtaking another runner I said, "I love this hill." "Not!" was the gasping reply. It really costs a lot of time, that hill. From being 40 seconds inside my PB, I arrived at the km18 marker about 25 seconds down.
Not far from home though, my "extra-time team talk" with myself was that I could now safely go for it and see what happens. If the PB doesn't come, you've still run a good race considering. Km19 sign and the deficit was 15 seconds. "Pace high" said my watch, which I now ignored. Through the twisty paths just before the end, I can't remember passing the km20 marker, just picking up more speed.
I crossed the line in 1.33:36, a PB by 29 seconds. No burning quads at the end either. "Give me a flat course, and the 90 minute barrier can be broken" I dreamed.
Back in the Midnapore community centre, I was astonished to see my name on the first results page. "14th?!" I shrieked in an extremely high voice. Just a great feeling to put in another against the odds performance.