hills, heat & the harbour bridge – auckland half marathon 2013

That title pretty much sums up my Sunday.

My Saturday was awesome though – first Saturday sleep in for a long time (no training), followed by lunch in town with some other lovely runners! In order from left to right: Rachel who was doing the marathon (8 months post-baby = amazing), me, Vera who is currently injured but a hilarious writer and a race junkie, Sheryll who was running her first half (and has some exciting running events lined up!) and Jody who was planning to speed through the half (a superwoman who takes lots of lovely photos of my suburb during pre-dawn runs while I’m still sleepIng).


After my usual pasta dinner it was time for an early night, however this was when the triathelete decided we needed to figure out my pacing strategy. My plan was pretty much just ‘run somewhere around 5.40 – 5.50 min/km and finish under 2 hrs’!

Having all my gear laid out meant a quick start to Sunday morning, after the super-early wake-up call of 4.45am. I ate my toast in the car on the way to town, where the triathlete dropped me off. I met up with two work friends and caught the ferry to Devonport, which I don’t enjoy at the best of times – let alone when nervous and before 6am! We joined a toilet queue and spent the next 45 minutes there (but YAY for proper flushing bathrooms!) before dashing to the start. We had to climb over a barricade due to crowding – another runner told me I got first prize for elegance as I did. I would have thought arriving an hour early would be plenty of time, but apparently not.

At 7am we had the horn to start, and off the mass of people went, many in the orange (male) and jade (female) event shirts. I couldn’t believe the crowding, I’ve done the Auckland Half twice before and not found it that ‘squishy’ previously.

Hills: The first 5km is pretty hilly, which I knew. What I didn’t expect was to find it so crowded, with walkers mixed in amongst runners. By the time I reached the 4km water station I was pretty sweaty (gross) and I knew it would be a tough day. My Garmin was also 100m out for each kilometre we had done and I was struggling to figure out what that meant for my pace. Regardless, I was probably a bit too fast, but still feeling strong after maintaining a steady pace. My flatmate has recently told me I have ‘iron legs’, they certainly helped power me up the hills without too much pain!

Heat: I’d practiced taking fluids while running, and it certainly made it easier. I had water at each drink station, and had jelly beans in between. The course had changed from previous years, which meant lots more time spent on the motorway and therefore a lot less shade. I felt like the sun and the black asphalt was sucking my energy out of me, and the stretch from Smales Farm to the Harbour Bridge was very challenging. I still felt okay, but my HR was way higher than usual.

Harbour Bridge: After being beaten by this bridge in my previous half marathons, I was determined to run up the whole way – and I did! Pretty sure this can be put down to my TempoFit training. I remembered the hill running technique and felt like I passed a lot of people who were stopping to walk (they all passed me later on though!). I felt a big sense of achievement here and thought I still had a good chance of cracking two hours.

It was literally all down hill after cresting the harbour bridge though. My knees hurt even more, my hip was niggly and my HR was still really high. I even took Powerade about 17km because I felt so ill. I made the smart decision to walk a little around Westhaven (although I hated myself for it!) because I knew I needed to recollect myself – and avoid either passing out or vomiting, both of which seemed way too close for comfort at that point. The triathlete was about the 19km mark and jogged with me for a 100m, before running to the 20km mark to see me just before the finish.

Knowing I was almost done got me through, and I managed a sprint to the finish, for a chip time of 2:03:15. Not quite the two hours I wanted, but still a 10 minute PB! Despite achy joints and some stiff muscles, I can’t wait to run again and am looking forward to my next events!

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11 thoughts on “hills, heat & the harbour bridge – auckland half marathon 2013

  1. Kaitlin says:

    A 10 minute personal best?! YOU GO, GIRL!! Congrats on your race, especially for owning that entire bridge!! I bet it is so cool to look back on previous races and see how you conquered it! Good work!

  2. Sherry says:

    You did awesome Michelle – a 10 min PB – congratulations! And on a day when you are not feeling off you will crack that 2 hour mark for sure!
    The motorway stretch was long wasn’t it? I could see the line of runners stretching all the way up onto the bridge several kilometres ahead of me, that was about the time the winner was finishing!
    It was fun to meet you at lunch. Might see you at Coatesville!

  3. kreachr says:

    Holy moly, a 10 minute PB!! You totally deserve a medal! Pity the half marathoners don’t get one… Congrats on conquering the bridge 🙂 It was lovely to meet you! See you at Coatesville? 😉

  4. Awesome PB! you nailed it! That bridge was tougher than I remembered and it was hot out there indeed! Sooo great to meet you on Sat, look forward to the next one… Maybe Coatesville indeed Jody 🙂

  5. Awesome time, well done. It sounds like a tough race!

  6. I’m all registered for Coatesville and even slightly looking forward to those hills! Great work kiwi ladies!

  7. Woohoo! Nice work Michelle! And thanks for the kind words. Hope to see you again soon but will definitely see you in Coatesville – love that half! 😀

  8. Katherine Fricker says:

    Congratulations, Michelle! That’s an awesome time 🙂 I’m glad to hear you haven’t been put off running. I’m signed up for the next TempoFit block. Are you in?

    • Thanks! You totally should have done it! Going to be a bit less structured until after Christmas but I’ve already registered my interest for 2014!
      Looking forward to a run this weekend, my legs are better today 🙂

  9. Leah says:

    Congratulations – what an awesome time! As a “native” Aucklander, conquering that bridge is definitely on my to-do list, I can just imagine that hill climb going on and on and on. Loved your race recap, and congrats again!

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