Race: Stride Against Cancer Half-Marathon 2012

This weekend was the annual Cayman Islands Cancer Society Half-Marathon and 10K races. This is one of the largest events on the island with nearly 1500 people taking part across the two races. It’s an event I have wanted to do for the last few years but have generally been recovering from injuries sustained in previous races so haven’t had the chance. With my Dad passing away last February from Nasal Cancer I made sure that this year, no matter what, I would be competing.

After the problems in Disney, and feeling distinctly off form the last two weeks since I came back I decided ahead of time that I was just going to turn up and run. No race plan, no time goal, just go out and run. I even went as far as to not bother taking my watch with me so I wouldn’t be tempted to try and keep a pace once I started.

This is a bit of a strange event as although there are timed races for the half and 10K distances, you can basically turn up at any time and set off on either distance once you have paid your money. So as I left the house about half-an-hour before the start of the half there was somebody already 4.5M through the course walking. I must have passed 30+ people on the short drive up to the start at Public Beach. 

Once you get to the start, if you want to take part in the timed race, you just take a number from the pile and that is it. No checking you are who you say you are or anything like that; just take a number and pass the pile on to the next person! A quick briefing from a bloke with a megaphone and then we are told to stand on the side of the road and somebody shouts “Go!”. Disney this was not!

There were probably about 80 of us setting off together and I was most definitely towards the back, I caught up to a couple of friends that I hadn’t spoken to in a while and we had a bit of a catch up, going pretty slowly. They then decided to stop for a chat with a runner who was just out on her normal Sunday run and was confused with all these people suddenly passing her. This left me on my own, so I put the headphones on and set about enjoying my run.

I overtook a few people and then found myself in a no-mans land about 100m in front of someone and 200m behind the person in front, so it was just like a normal run on my own and not really a race, except for people handing out Gatorade every mile or so. I believed I was somewhere about 30th, as there had been a big group in front of me at the start.

Just a quick aside, the volunteers were mixing the Gatorade themselves which meant a few of them had overdone it and it was like drinking cough syrup, others had been a bit cautious and it was rather weak. However, big thanks to all of them for getting up early on a Sunday to clap and cheer us all on! Events like this couldn’t happen without the volunteers.

I wasn’t exactly feeling the best over the first 4M and thought I would probably end up walking for a bit. But as seems to happen on some races, once I got through 4M my legs woke up and I felt a lot better. I still didn’t think I was going all that fast, but I caught the person in front of me. Looking at the split times from RunKeeper (before it started messing up), I didn’t actually get any quicker so everyone else started slowing.

As we reached 6M we could see the leaders heading back up the road, I attempted to count how many there were and was surprised when I worked out I was 12th. By the turn for home I had overtaken another couple of people so thought I was 10th!

The chance of a Top 10 finish sounded pretty cool, but I was anticipating a slow down, and I couldn’t even see the next person in front of me, they must have been nearly half a mile ahead at this point.

Basically my legs kept going and I slowly caught the people in front. With 3M to go we rejoined the 10K course and had several hundred other people to weave through. I went past 2 people in the next couple of miles, and believed I had taken another person in the last few hundred yards with a big finish, so I was a bit surprised to be given the number 9 at the end for my place. Obviously I had miscounted, more than likely because I was expecting a lot more people to be ahead of me so wasn’t paying attention (Shocker!).

Anyway, as I write this I am not 100% sure of my time because Runkeeper messed up (like it did in Disney), the GPS was out by over half a mile and I am not sure it stopped properly when I asked it to. The time it showed me was 1hr44min19, so only 40 seconds outside a PB, as it took a while to stop there is a chance I got very, very close to my best. Considering I wasn’t feeling like I was running as fast as I could, even in the last few miles when I was trying to catch the people in front of me, I am over the moon. 

I am not saying I would have been able to go any faster if I had tried to “race” the whole thing, in fact I may have ended up being slower by setting off too fast! But I am very happy with my performance, I must be in better shape than I thought, and all the hard work in training has paid off. In fact I was convinced even at about 10M I was on for a mid 1hr50’s finish.

It should be noted that the fastest people from Cayman were all in Miami for the half and full marathons that were the same day, which explains the “Top 10”.

There are only 2 half marathons on the island over the year and I finished 9th in one of them. Chuffed, me? I think so!