Since the last post on training for the half marathon, I've managed four training runs of 16 to 17 km. I managed to reduce my 17km-ish time from around 1 hr 11 to a little over 1 hr 09, and on the 14km section which tracks the actual course of the race I improved from 58 minutes to a little over 56.
However, to be fair, the last couple of runs have been in close to perfect conditions whereas the first one was in a howling northerly of extrordinary strength -- heading north back around Point Jeringham the gusts were so strong that at one stage I was actually making no progress despite pushing into the wind with all my force. So it's questionable how much improvement I've actually made.
The last week has been a bit of a write off for training purposes. I spent the weekend doing the Southern Crossing of the Tararuas, and then I allowed recovery time to be in reasonable shape for my two mid-week games of indoor football (they're close to the highlight of my week and take precedence over everything else). There's also been some non-optimum eating and drinking over the past few days.
I have one more training run tomorrow, and then that's it until race day next Sunday.
This brings me back to the issue of wind and wind direction. Presumably because it's an add-on to the 7km Round the Bays fun run, this half marathon is not geographically balanced, unlike the Harbour Capital race run in June, which is an "out and back" course. The course heads from Frank Kitts Park to Cobham Drive, up around the Miramar peninsula almost to Scorching Bay, then back to Kilbirnie Park. Two-thirds of the course goes essentially north to south, making a significant net movement south over the race as a whole.
This means that, while light winds would still be preferable, a moderately fresh northerly would still be ok, because it would be close to a tail wind for two thirds of the race, including the last leg. Even a light southerly would be ok: I've found I can still do the first 7km leg into the breeze in 28--29 minutes, and a tail wind would be useful in the 'difficult' middle part of the race. Where things would really come unstuck is in a fresh southerly, so I'm praying we don't get those conditions next Sunday.
The race starts at 8:30 am, so strong sun and warm temperatures should also be taken out of the equation (yes, we actually have had a little bit of those recently in Wellington). The ideal would be a light northerly, overcast, around 16 degrees and maybe the lightest of intermittent drizzle. Currently the forecast says fine with a high of 20 and a northerly at 30 km/h. That would be acceptable! But weather forecasts can of course change in a week.
It's been good to have a goal, but pounding up and down the pavements is not actually my favourite activity, and it does take a lot out of you. Succeed or fail in the half marathon, I'll be quite glad to get back to regular trips to the gym and of course the football.