With words like “good hill training” on race flyers and in other race descriptions you can be sure that some tough running will be part of the race ahead. That was the case with the Jackie Gibson half marathon I ran yesterday. The race is known to be one of the not so easy runs in the Johannesburg area. As I mentioned somewhere before, I need some good hill training so I was up and ready for the race at 05:00 with all systems go.
The race is one of a few that is close to home for me, 10.2km to be exact. I still left early as all the races this year have very big fields and traffic and parking can be a problem. This was no exception and the queue for parking was about 1.5km long when I got there. I still managed to find a nice spot fairly quickly. Luckily there are a few open fields in the immediate vicinity of the venue.
Winter is fast approaching in this part of the world...still dark when parking.
We’ve been having some cold, rainy days and I was worried we might have a cold and wet race. The clouds were very low when we started but the rain stayed away. Although a bit cold, the weather was actually very good for running. All around me runners were taking off any extra layers during the first few kilometers.
The first half of the race is tough and hilly. Just after the 2km mark we ran up the first tough hill. Some people were walking here already. I don’t have any specific rules for walking during races. One thing I’ve learnt over the years is that walking is OK. When you get to running ultras walking is important and you should train to do this well. You can read a previous post of mine about walking here. One rule I have is that I don’t run up a hill if I can walk up at the same speed. When a hill is really steep and I find myself running at the same pace others are walking, I walk. There were a few hills like this on Sunday and I used them to practice some power walking.
The race went through the suburb where I grew up and I was excited to run past the church where I went to Sunday school many years ago. My parents still live here and I could see their house on top of the hill to our North. This really got me going and I felt a bit of a runner’s high running through this area.
We ran through here…my childhood suburb.
Although a road race, we ran around the nature reserve where I do most of my trail training runs. This is a beautiful area and the scenery is lovely, keeping in mind this is a Johannesburg (big city) race. I was looking out for some game and spotted a loan Black Wildebeest at some point. Then I nearly tripped over a traffic cone and decided to rather look where I was running instead.
The first 11km were up and down all the way with some challenging hills. I did my power walking routine on the hills between 7 and 11km and somewhere between 13 and 14km as well. As with any circular route what goes up must come down and eventually we got to some nice, long downhills with flat stretches to go with that. I was feeling extremely good with 6km to go and was still enjoying the run a lot. I think the power walking on the hills in the first half worked well and helped me to keep enough in reserve for the last part of the race.
The last 2km were a steady climb and here I was glad I didn’t run the full marathon. I’m sure some of the marathon runners didn’t enjoy those 2kms as I did. It was great to reach the finish feeling so good and positive.
Another great medal, t-shirt and goody bag with a few sponsors items… the goody bag in support of the 2010 soccer world cup in South Africa.
If I have to describe the race in one word it would be “pleasant”. I had a lovely run and enjoyed everything. Organization was superb and I don’t have anything negative to say about the race. Next year I’ll do the full marathon here. Tomorrow I’m running another half marathon, the Cradle half marathon at the Cradle of Humankind. This should be a nice outing and I hope I’ll be writing another positive report after that.
Have a good week everyone!