I've been working very hard in order to get in shape for this race, and I must say that I am very satisfied with my result. Overall i was placed 135 out of the 8812 (98 percentile) that finished. In my class I got 28th out of 585 (95 percentile), male 30-34.
In order to tell how I experienced the race I have decided to split the race into approximately 5k sections, telling how each of those sections actually felt like when running.
Before the race
Deciding on the given time I wanted to aim for was hard for this race. Everybody I've talked to has told me that this race is hard because of the different hills and the overall incline of the route. I was therefore a little bit modest, and decided that I would be happy getting between 1:30 and 1:35.
I placed myself just behind the 1:30 balloon and decided to make decisions on the go, depending on my overall daily shape.
Starting off was like normal during these races. You run in line, and try to find a spot where you can run without having to adjust according to the people around you. The first couple kilometers was a game of patience. I decided to wait it off and see how my legs felt, I especially didn't want to run close to the 1:30 ballon, people were so desperate to run keep up with them that they ended up running in a tight cluster.
I kept my distance, about 50m behind until we started on the bridge. Once on the bridge I slowly started to gain on the 1:30 ballon again, and on the way down from the bridge I had bridged the gap (pun intended) and needed to pass. After running a little bit on the grass I managed to get past the balloons and out of the running traffic.
Once I was passed the 1:30 balloon I quickly found a group of about 7-8 men who had the same tempo. We kept increasing the gap down to the 1:30 balloons, and because of the flat route managed to keep a very nice pace.
At the 7k mark something very peculiar happened to me. I huge rock got stuck in a crack under my shoe. Every time my right foot hit the ground, a clicking noise happened, which ended up being a subject we started talking about as a group. I didn't want to stop, because I felt like I was doing so well. Looking at the stats from my watch it clearly shows that I landed a lot more on my left foot than my right while the stone was stuck, and that it took me almost 3 minutes before I managed to kick it out again.
Nothing else happened during this part of the race, there were supposed to be a hill on this part of the route, but I never noticed it.
Up till now the water stations had been very frequent, but suddenly there was a sign at 11k telling me that this was the last time to get water until we were on the other side of the bridge again.
Such a gap between the water stations were a bigger at this point of the race, and I was happy that I had kept hydrating from the start.
My pulse was getting closer to 170 bpm now and I decided that I could easily push my body to 175 at the top of the bridge without being in risk of overstraining.
At the start of the bridge I noticed people starting to push themselves harder. I also did, but let a few people run past me.
I quickly started gaining on the people that had passed me once we started running downhill again. They may have overstrained themselves a bit, or my long legs are just more suited for running downhill.
Once I hit 16k a huge blister on my left foot burst, but apart from the initial pain, adrenaline took care of the rest. Shortly after a guy bumped into me. He was the one I had competed against on the 10k a month earlier. He quickly said hi and continued running a little bit faster than me.
The last 5k was probably the easiest to run, because of the decline in order to get to the starting area again. This is also where I really started climbing on the scoreboard. I had my eyes focused on my running buddy from a month earlier and gave it all to try closing the gap he had created a couple of minutes earlier.
I never managed to close the gap, but was happy that I kept the same distance and had motivation to really run as fast I could during the last kilometers of the run.
After the race
This is probably the easiest half marathon I have ever run. I have no clue what people talked about when they said that it was a hard route, but I imagine my previous experiences have given me a different point of view on these matters. I felt the different hills were just distributed over such a huge distance that they were barely noticeable.
The most important aspect though is how awesome the race was. Especially considering the weather was warm and the sunset was absolutely stunning. A great experience that I'd easily consider doing again next year.
Thanks for all the help and support I got from my friends and family.