While some races are planned well in advance (I have already started filling in my race calendar for next year), others aren’t.
While sitting at the running club having a drink after time trial last Thursday a discussion started about the race at Irene on the weekend. I was asked whether I would be running, and not knowing any details had to confirm the distance (half marathon). We had already planned our run for Sunday, but the race was on Saturday and nothing else was on the calendar. Kirsten and I agreed that a 21 km run sounded like a nice way to kick off a Saturday, so we ended up at Irene Mall at 6AM for the start of the race.
After collecting our race numbers we returned to the car to keep warm and by the time we ambled over to the start line we started from the back of the field. After setting off at walk, weaving through throngs of people to reach a very slow jog, and then leaping onto gutters and patches of grass to reach a normal jog, we finally cleared the bulk of the crowd and built up to a running pace.
After exiting the mall and crossing a motorway we climbed up to a ridge that we ran along with views out over Centurion. We then turned and descended into the suburbs of Irene, where we proceeded to run through quiet residential streets. Just as we were entering the residential section of the course it started to rain, but thankfully it didn’t last long and the temperature wasn’t too cold. The route involved a number of lollipop loops in the course, so we would frequently pass runners heading in the opposite direction. The course profile was varied with some nice climbs mixed in with rewarding downhills.
Kirsten was dragging me around slightly faster than I had in mind, but in the past week or so my legs have finally started to feel almost normal after Leadville. At around the 10 km mark we caught sight of Cliff, a friend of ours we often meet at races, who was ahead of us so we slowly started to reel him in. At around the 14 km we caught up with Cliff, and the three of us started running together. Occasionally we would split apart on the climbs, but kept regathering on the downhills. We left the residential section of the course to run along the ridge that would take us back towards the mall. The return leg involved some extra distance running through a business park, but we soon crossed the motorway, completed a lap of the mall, and crossed the finish line in a time of 1:37:03.
Overall it was a very enjoyable run, and we were rewarded with a chocolate milk at the finish (Clover is a milk company). The normal rule in my running group is that you can only have chocolate milk after runs over 25 km but we made an exception just this once. Next week we are looking forward to our first legitimate chocolate milk of the new running season after the 50 km City2City race, which I will report on next week.