Sydney Morning Herald Half marathon Recap 2014 by Elsa Heitbrink


Can you believe I just raced my third half marathon?! This stuff really is addictive.


I really didn’t feel like I had prepared well for this one (did I prepare well for any of them?!). I was really all over the place with training and had only managed three long runs in the past 2.5 months.

I kept giving myself an out by telling people I would just be happy to finish under 2 hours. I even checked the average pace I would need to finish under 2 hours! 5:40min/km if you’re wondering. But I was determined to actually do the thing. There was no way I was going to completely cop out and not even start.


So I got myself up at 4:40am on Sunday morning which was time enough to have some breakfast before heading out to catch the bus into the city. For some reason I wore shorts. It was a freezing autumn morning at 5am. Although I was glad later on that I’d worn shorts.

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Once I got there I headed to the fountain in Hyde Park to meet up with some of the other Running Mums Australia women. We all had a nice chat in the cold for 10-15 minutes and then had a photo before I headed off to drop off gear, go to the port-a-loos and warm up.

I have to say, having the start and finish line at the same place makes it easy for bag drop. It was very organised and you could drop off right up to start time which meant I could wear my jumper for just a little bit longer.

After doing bag drop I then managed to get myself on the slowest port-a-loo line EVER. I am not kidding. People were just not coming out! I don’t know what they were doing in there. I kept nervously looking at my watch and wondering if I really needed to go to the toilet because it was getting close to race time and I was going to miss out on a warm up. Finally those people came out and our line started to move. Phew!

I did manage to get a very quick 10 minute warm up jog done which helped me warm up in the cold and also calmed me down a bit.

Then I made my way to the start group and all of a sudden we were off! I had a clif bar shot blok with me which I ended up carrying in my hand because I couldn’t be bothered wearing a belt to keep it in. In hindsight I should have worn short with a zip up pocket to stow it in but really it don’t’ bother me that much anyway. I also decided to take on water or gatorade at every second water station (there were a lot!) and after reading this post I decided to try walking during my water breaks.  I feel like the walking breaks really helped and I ran stronger because of them.

The first half of the race felt amazing. There were no markers for a few km’s so I had no idea what pace I was doing until I hit 3km and realised I was well under my target split. But I felt great and running was relatively easy. Nothing was hurting as if I was pushing too hard. Because I don’t wear a garmin I like to go through each km and then work out what time I need to hit the next km marker to be sitting under my target pace. Yes, I am strange. But it also gives me something to think about. Imagine that, all I’m thinking about for almost 2 hours is what time I need to hit the next km at.

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I didn’t realise that this was such a hard course. Check out the continuous rolling hills plus a few more major ones too. Side note: I have no idea why this is showing in miles/feet. I have changed all settings on map my run to metric but for some reason this graph just wants to be imperial. Whatever.

Anyway, like I said everything was feeling pretty good for about the first 10 kms. My right knee was not too happy during the downhill so I had to back off a bit. And there were quite a few downhills on a very hilly course. My left calf was threatening to seize up so I knew I couldn’t push anymore than I already was. But most of the time I wasn’t actually in pain. A huge improvement from the last half I did when everything just hurt after about 5km. My hip flexors were aching, my knees were going and in the last 5 km each of my calf muscles seized. Yes that was one of the fun ones.

I went through half way at 50:13. I thought to myself if I can just keep this pace up I could run a PB. That would be a surprise!

I’d spent the whole first half of the race continuing to give myself an out. Each time I went through a km marker I calculated the next km time using the 5:40min/km split. But once I got through halfway my head was in the game. If I could pull off a PB that would be a huge achievement and something to be proud of. I started aiming for 5 minute splits. And I was bang on speed until I dropped a bit of time over the 15th km. I managed to get my speed back but over the last 3-5 km I dropped speed and couldn’t keep up the pace. But I was still going for it trying to get to the finish as quickly as possible. Once I hit the 20km mark I knew I wasn’t going to do a PB but I was going to be a lot faster than I’d planned. I kept pushing myself right to the end and finished in 1:43.12!

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After I finished I felt so much better than I have ever felt after a half before. I could actually walk as opposed to hobble which is a good start. I managed to score a free banana and some gatorade and then found a spot in the grass to stretch. Then I had to grab my gear and get out of there pretty quickly because we had a breakfast engagement party to get to!

Even though I didn’t finish in a PB time I am very happy with how I went – I came in the top 100 of my age group! Pretty chuffed with myself. I honestly didn’t think I could run that fast with the limited preparation I’d done. I’m still kind of scratching my head wondering how I managed it. I guess all that cross training counts for something, right?

I seemed to recover pretty quickly as well and felt fine by Monday afternoon – no aches and pains lingering around.

I’m already looking at what I’m going to do next. I think I work well with a goal. The only problem is I think Damo has banned me from entering any more events for a while after competing in 3 events (Tri the GongCorporate Triathlon and this half) within 10 weeks plus netball. So is that a no to the Gold coast Airport Marathon Festival then?

Thanks Elsa for your amazing recap! It was so great to meet you and the other girls from RMA for this event! If you want to read more of Elsa’s journey, you can read more of her adventures at

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