Cadbury half marathon – race recap

Part 2 of another epic running weekend (in case you missed part 1, it naturally involved a parkrun!).

After returning to Hobart (and dropping the car off with a minute to spare), we wandered a bit then headed back to our apartment to relax and prepare for the morning. It’s funny how strictly we stick to routines before a big event – eating the same things, laying out our clothes and accessories to make sure everything is ready to go, resting the legs, calming the nerves. Most importantly, getting enough sleep. This last one is probably the most challenging and was even more so in our apartment which was stunning but without curtains so heading to bed at 7.30pm with Summer sunlight streaming in felt odd.

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The view from my bed as I went to sleep

Regardless, I slept well enough and felt quite rested when the alarm went off some time after 4am. We got up, got ready and headed out to our cab to trek out to the Cadbury factory. We’d bought entry to the VIP area which was completely worth it – an area to chill next to the finish line (with dedicated portaloos) and even a red carpet to welcome us.

As we moved towards the start line, we met up with the five30 clan who were doing a range of events throughout the morning.

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I felt a lot calmer at the start this year. Last year, this had been my 2nd half marathon with all the niggling doubts that came with it, particularly about whether or not I’d finish. This year, there was no such doubt as, being half marathon #6, I knew I could do the distance.

Shortly after crossing the start line, I heard my name called out from the side and saw a friend from high school who I hadn’t seen for years – the perfect distraction and boost that I needed. The start of this event is a short loop around the streets surrounding the factory which then takes you back over the start line – meaning more cheers from the five30 crew and my friend! Once the loop is over you head down the hill – the perfect start to a run as you feel strong and fast with the encouragement helping you along.

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And then the 3rd kilometre hits. Last year, that was when I thought about how far I had to go. This year, I had new doubts. In every half marathon before this, I’d just been worried about finishing. This year, I had no such worries but new ones had taken over – worried that I wouldn’t achieve the time I wanted. Obviously I hoped to get a PB although knew I hadn’t trained enough to warrant one however I knew I would be sorely disappointed if I couldn’t come in under 3 hours. However I was letting the negative voices in my head take over so everything was feeling hard. I got my music out and tried to just get into the zone.

The Cadbury course is very enjoyable, despite being all on the road. Scenic water and mountain views as well as passing landmarks such as MONA and the Entertainment Centre keep you entertained and prevent boredom. There are also slight undulations along the course which I quite like – not enough uphills to stress you out but enough downhills to have those strong moments. And I just kept going, trying not to worry about time and enjoy it. I mostly succeeded. There were certainly a lot of mantras I was drawing on and mentally was breaking it into chunks, particularly after my watch ticked over the first hour.

It was actually just after the half way point that my attitude improved a little. Mentally, it’s always easier to be heading back than heading out. But I also realised that I was doing ok for time. The race predictor on my watch was predicting a PB although I knew that wasn’t going to happen – I don’t do negative splits and was starting to get tired. However under 3 hours felt very possible. Two mantras became important – ‘pain is temporary, pride is permanent’ and ‘head up, wings out’ (which I had written on my arm to remind me when running brain hit).

I was pleased to see that the kilometres ticked by a lot quicker this year and soon enough I was saying to myself ‘one parkrun to go’. Having others around me on the course certainly helped as the marathon runners have to do 2 loops of the course so there were always some nearby. There were also more runners this year at my speed (or it felt that way) so there was no chance of feeling lonely.

I continued to analyse my time and was trying to bank some time for the inevitable slow down that would happen when I hit the hill in the last kilometre. Interestingly enough, there was no slow down – I determinedly powered up the hill, longing for that finish arch at the top. As I came over the crest, I was disappointed not to see the arch but could definitely see the finish line (apparently the arch had had a deflating moment!) and steadily ran towards it – not much sprint left in me. My official time – 2:57.31. A Cadbury PB and only 4 minutes slower than my best half marathon time.

Somehow I managed to bend down to untie my shoelaces and retrieve my timing chip (a considerable effort!), chatted to one of the five30 crew who had finished not only the half but also the 5km, then I made my way to the VIP area. I felt great which is no mean feat at the end of a half – no significant pain, no ridiculous chafing and even the bottoms of my feet felt ok. I had my massage, tried to eat something (which I never find easy after a long run) and generally soaked up the atmosphere and post-run endorphins.

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Going into this weekend, I’d wondered whether we were just trying to relive what was an amazing trip last year and whether we’d end up a bit disappointed. This weekend turned out to be just as fantastic with new adventures and I’m so glad we did it. The Cadbury run is so much fun and with such a welcoming, encouraging atmosphere, regardless of your distance or pace. Thanks again Tassie – we had a ball!

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