Finished the Rio Half Marathon!!!

Posted: April 9, 2013 by Ben Weber in English, Running, Training
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Exhausted medal ceremony

Made it!!!

Sunday was the Rio Half Marathon – 21km of running along the beautiful beaches of Rio, from Recreio and through the Barra da Tijuca region to São Conrado. I was slightly nervous as my training has been less than ideal for a running event like this. As I mentioned in the last post, I had run a 15km at the end of the year with the 15km São Silvestre in São Paulo, but relatively little running since then. The only thing I had going for me was a good level of general fitness from the Casa de Pedra gym and climbing training, and the LEJOG cycle ride, though not training specific for running.

Getting ready to run!

Getting ready to run!

My time for the São Silvestre was 1h25mins – about 10.5km per hour. If I managed to keep the same speed, I would manage to complete the Rio event in two hours, so that was my goal. I figured that as the Rio race was almost completely flat – with just one “hill” after 17km – I could do it slightly quicker if things went well; the São Silvestre went up and down plenty of hills in São Paulo, so more challenging in that respect.

First thing was first, it was good to be in Rio again and away from São Paulo, though this was my first time in Barra da Tijuca – I stayed in a hostel in the central area, near Novo Leblon, called Adepta hostel – a fantastic price of r$88 (about US$ 40) for a night – pretty low for Rio, especially in the wealthy area of Barra. And it was a great place – very safe neighbourhood, very quite, and near plenty of places to eat and relax. Definitely would recommend it. A couple of runners from São Paulo stayed there as well – they arrived at the same time as me – and it was good to wander around with them. The taxi driver taking us there was slightly crazy and dodgy though – he almost crashed in to the back of a car stopped at a red traffic light and braked and swerved at the last-minute, before going straight through the light. He blamed the driver of the other car for having stopped, complaining that he didn’t need to stop for pedestrians…. I was happy to get out. Aside from this, however, Barra was very nice – extremely different from the main southern and central zones of Rio – it was almost like a different city entirely

The day of the race… 7am was the start time, so we got there at 6am. Light warm ups and stretches; a bit more water… psyching ourselves up for the race with music playing loudly in a party-like atmosphere at the start… trying to make the legs feel slightly less heavy… and at 7am, off we went.

En RouteThe first minute was spent shuffling along with the peloton to the starting line – there were 3,000 runners and I was somewhere in the front-middle. The music soon faded away, and it was just the sound of our footsteps on the tarmac and the waves. While at the São Silvestre it seemed like the entire city was out watching the race and cheering everyone on, here the event was much less popular, and only a few early-morning drinkers and surfers were watching – probably more bemused than anything else. My legs felt heavy still for the first ten minutes but I was able to establish a nice rhythm of about 5m24s per kilometre and felt good after those initial minutes.

There were water points every three kilometres and I was grateful for every one of them. I would take in general two cups of water and a gulp of Gatorade at each point – one cup to pour over my head and cool me down, and one to drink for hydration. Definitely helped as it was 25C so pretty warm. I had a couple of “Gu” energy sachets, which were fantastic – I took one after 8km and the other after 15km. I prefer the taste of Blocks, but Blocks are more solid, so harder to eat when running, where Gu is what the description says… Gu-ey! So easy to eat and swallow.

I managed to keep up the rhythm for the first 17km or so, up to the main uphill. I was pleased that I managed to beat my 15km São Silvestre time by about six minutes, reaching that point at 79mins. At the uphill, though, I felt my pace dropping a little and then it turned more into a mental battle with myself. It would have been easy to slow down or maybe just have walked a little, but I refused to let myself and had to push myself forward. Am pretty sure that had I done more training, it would have helped a lot here. After the hill, it was okay again, until the final kilometre, or, to be more precise, the final 800 metres…

At that point I could see as sign saying “500 metres” to go… then a bit ahead “400 metres”.. etc… I had been quite happy with just kilometre markers before this, so the time it took me to go every one of those last few hundred metres seemed to take forever; it was like some twisted form of torture!! I am sure they did it for good reasons, to encourage people those last few hundred metres, but for me… well, I was glad to cross the line! And I was elated to have completed my first half marathon!

My final time… 1 hour, 54 minutes, 59 seconds!

Definitely extremely pleased with myself for this, and confident that I will be able to do better next time: Porto Alegre in little over 82 days on 30 June. Check the website of the organisers – if you are around, give me a shout!

(Final note… Aside from the photos from Asics, I didn’t take many pictures from Rio this time, so have included a few from last time I went – such a great city!)

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