I’d ended my half marathons in 2016 with a course PB of 2:04. If I’m truthful, slightly disappointed that again the time on the clock wasn’t a true reflection of where I felt I was with my training and not having achieved the sub 2 that I’d really wanted.
It was my home town half marathon and had been the first half that I had ever ran the year before this. Both times I had ran this course I’d come away slightly frustrated and disappointed.
Fast forward to September 17, my training was going well, I’d adapted it quite a lot. Running on average 5 times a week and into my training I’d incorporated a lot of hill training and trail races, track, long runs and park runs for extra speed session. In the early years anything with a hill in it had me running the other way but our club coach is really supportive and gave us all a lot of confidence to challenge ourselves more.
TO SIGN OR NOT TO SIGN …
So, deadline loomed … Do I sign up for this race again for a third time and risk being disappointed when training had been going so well or do I try and get the sub 2 and put my demons of this half to bed?
So, I signed!!! Let’s do this!!! One of the chaps from my running club had kindly offered to pace me round and kick me round the racecourse if needed. So, I was all set.
I paid a lot of attention to this on my training runs with my gels and blocks and on the week leading up to my half anything with a carb in it I was on it! I’d had a really bad experience after one of my training long runs and it made me address my fuelling a lot closer these days and avoid the unpleasant post run comedowns. I wanted to make sure before this race I felt strong both mentally and physically. I knew exactly my race fuelling plan in my head of what, where, when I was going with it all.
My friend told me that we needed to aim for our pace to be 8.50m/m to gain us the time that we needed in the bank for when we hit the dreaded racecourse section of this race.
My first thought was blimey could I really hit those paces in a half marathon and hold them consistently? Not fast to some, but to me who had ran my first half in 10 – 11 min miles a big step on paper.
My pace has improved immensely this year but I still had a bit of a number freak out when I saw it written down. Also, I tended to fluctuate my speed rather than run trying to hold a certain pace and that was definitely all new to me. Also at the racecourse stage of the race the course is very exposed, you have to run with the finish in your eye-line but the course then sweeps it from your view and then onto a very isolated part of the race instead. Also, as it is so open you then see all the other runners like little ants ahead of you running in all directions for the next two miles of the course and it is so soul destroying.
My mantra all week leading up to this race was “don’t be a worrier be a warrior” and every time I started to wobble I just kept repeating it.
I headed to the 1:45 – 2:00 hour pen and met my friend. The race nerves were in full flow and I was trying to tell that little voice in my head I could do this as it kept whispering doubts into my head, could I hold this pace? Would I hit the paces for those first few sometimes stiff miles? Then whoosh we were off, this was it, let’s go…
The course this year was being ran in reverse so we started running downhill. With the descending hill, nerves & adrenaline. I wasn’t sure what our first mile would read but it popped up at 8:47, phew, we were on target.
Right let’s settle down, it was hard in the early miles as I could see people who I train with over taking us and striding ahead. Were we going too slow on these early flat miles? It all made me slightly jumpy and feel like I should be speeding up. Our second mile popped up… 8:44. I needed to slow slightly and calm my nerves now. It had started to rain which wasn’t pleasant at all. A few deep breaths and my friends comforting words “we are doing great and well on target, remember to save yourself for the racecourse!” So, we hit our groove and the next few miles were 8:59, 8:58, 8:41, 9:02 a text from son 1 in there somewhere would you believe, saying he felt unwell. Their timing is amazing! Once I knew his arm wasn’t dropping off I left him for his Dad to sort out, the life of a running mum…
8:51, 8:57 for mile 8. The miles were flying by. I felt so great, the crowds were amazing everyone was cheering, shouting, waving, the children were high-fiving, giving out sweets and goodies as we ran by. We headed back into town now, I saw my parents and my little girl, lots of kisses blown and we were on our way again. I couldn’t believe how good I felt at this point, previous years I can still remember that dying feeling at miles 9 and 10 so clear as people started to pass me on fresh legs. Not this year though oh no.
I had my last gel as the racecourse loomed and stayed on the pace, mile 10 – 8:45. We climbed up a short incline into the racecourse. We were on target, could we really do this? This race was going a dream, we headed into the racecourse. Into our eye-line came other club members who had gone ahead of us at the start. We were catching them up! All my club teammates knew that I wanted a sub 2 hour so as we passed them they all gave us a friendly cheer of support. Mile 11-8:40, mile 12-8:40. It felt amazing to still feel strong at this point in the race, yes, I was tiring, my legs were getting heavy and you feel so exposed out on the racecourse. Even out there with very few supporters we were going ok and held our pace just focusing on the person in front.
Mile 13-8:41. THIS IS IT… All I had as we crossed the line and felt so emotional, the tears welled up I looked at my watch 1:56:07! I had knocked over 6 minutes off last years’ time and got a new PB!
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