It rained overnight, but was just damp in the morning on Sunday the 2nd for the Obihiro half-marathon AKA the Food Valley Tokachi Marathon. The 9 o’clock start meant an early wake up call, but got it together to register in time. It was only about 1 degree at 8am on race day last year, but that was pretty unusual according to the stats – which was good as it was FREEZING last year, well okay, almost freezing. Today wasn’t nearly so cold.
After only two months of training for this, I decided to take it slow and just enjoy the course. Last year I ran 1:55, but that wasn’t going to happen this time. I decided to take it easy the first ten kilometres and then see what happened after that. I decided not to pass anyone during the first 10K as well, or look at my watch… which took a lot of willpower!
So I started off slow. I also wore my headphones. Have never been sure about using music in a race, but I can actually hear what’s going on around me quite well – maybe I just have good headphones… The music made the long grind up one of the main streets in the middle of town a lot easier too. Lots of businesses put on unofficial aid stations and one bank had even put one on somewhere between the 1 and 2 kilometer mark. I doubt anyone stopped to take a drink though!
Looked at my watch at the 5K mark and was almost at 31 minutes. Definitely a slow pace, but I felt great. Couldn’t quite remember where the first official aid station was from last year, but it turned out to be well past the 6K mark. Last year I was totally hanging out for it, but this year I was just cruising.
Same feelings when I got to the hill at around 8K. Cruised up it no problem.
Got to the turnaround at 10K, the aid station at the baseball stadium and then finally looked at my watch again at the 11K mark. 1:07. Still feeling like I was out on an easy jog (which I was!), but I figured I would run a little harder from here and see what would happen. Not too much harder though, but I figured I could up the pace a little…
As the race is run through town, there are people lining the streets almost the entire way, but particularly on the way back. You really don’t want to have a meltdown on this course! As well as brass bands and cheer squads, there were a lot of school sports teams lining up to high five the runners… and yeah, I participated fully. At times even zigzagging up the road to make sure I got all the teams. And yeah… it/I was AWESOME.
There were more unofficial aid stations on the way back as well. Too many even. Continued to just cruise, although I was starting to pass more people as the race got longer. Unfortunately at about 18K my hamstrings started to cramp up. Yeah, not enough mileage! My last three kilometres got slower and slower and slower, but managed to get over the line in 2:09:00.
So yeah, 14 minutes slower than last year, and much slower than my PR, but what are you going to do?! Just happy to finish it this time around. Funny thing was that it was the first race I had really enjoyed – most of the time I’m just stressed and pressured. Got to do this more often maybe…
Of course, the minute I crossed the finish line it started to pour with rain… Ramen and beer in the car made up for it though!