Half Marathon 2013

Been thinking a lot about the half marathon today. Last week’s 10K knocked my confidence a bit. Going off too fast last week and the impact that had on my finishing time meant the pacing today was crucial.

The race is 4 and a bit (a little bit) around Dorney Lakes.

Preparation was perfect – one thing I can do is prepare. Having a slight case of OCD helps as I tend to do everything in the same way for each event.

The start was miles away from the car park as usual, the start was delayed by 15 minutes, as it was last year due to people taking so long to get from the car park to the start. Do they not read the instructions?

It was an absolutely beautiful day as well. The lake was like a mirror, not one bit of wind at all. The sun was even out for some of the race.

The race is called ‘race your pace’. Therefore there were runners with ‘flags’ on their back with pacing times and finish times. I tucked in with the 1hr 58mins finish time flag man. IS THAT CHEATING? The key for this race was for me to get the pacing right and there I was being paced by someone else. But maybe that is what I needed?

The horn went and off we went, eventually. Lots of slow walking and then very slow jogging while the runners spread out. I crossed the start line and hit the start button on the Garmin. We were off for real.

I started off and after 100 or so metres realised I was ahead of the flag man, not massively ahead but ahead. I slowed, he caught up and went past me, I did the first lap with him  in my sights. And what an easy lap it was. I felt comfortable, it felt easy, like a Saturday morning jog not a race. Lap one was nice – just over 5k and I did it in 28 mins 39 secs. a pace of 5.34, speed of 10.7 kmph.

Loads of runners had flooded past me – which if it wasn’t for the flag man I probably would have got sucked into keeping up with them. Lap 2 was just as easy, nice and … well … slow. But I lost the flag man half way around lap 2. He stopped at the drinks tables and I carried on. I was sure he was just behind me as I was still running at the same ‘easy’ pace.

Half way around lap 3 flag man came past me. It really hit me hard. I didn’t think I was miles ahead of him, I had forgotten all about him. But him coming past meant I was slowing. That’s fine though. As long as I stay with him I was on for a sub 2 hour finish, well actually a 1 hr 58 mins finish.

Lap 3 was harder. I needed more effort to do the same speed. I was sweating a lot, so needed to take on fluid at the feed stations, the drinks were water in plastic cups. You know the score, half is lost giving you the cup, more is lost sloshing the cup around and the rest is lost over your face as you try to drink and run. So I did what flag man had done before. I walked through the feed station drinking a full cup of water. Then carried on running after. I did this for the last two laps, at both feed stations at each end of the lake.

Lap 3 was slower (not surprising as flag man caught me and was now in the distance) 29 mins and 14 secs pace of 6.08 and an average speed of 10.5 kmph.

Just lap 4 to go. I felt OK, not great. Not run this distance for ages. Have only run this distance twice before so it was still quite unknown territory. Running away from the club house was hard. People were passing me, the flag man was not in sight, it was tough going. Just got to get to the feed station. A little rest while taking on more fluid. I must confess I needed a little breather before the feed station. A lady passed me and said ‘ah no don’t stop, you are my pacer’. I started to run again but struggled to keep up with her. I took on water for the last time and said to myself ‘right Webby 2.5K or so to go, you ain’t stopping no more’. And off I went.

I felt good, surprisingly good. I was focussed on getting the to the finish as fast as I could. I saw the women who had shouted at  me in the distance and decided she was my target – to catch her and pass her by the end.

I caught her at the end of the fourth lap so just the half a K run to the finish. Lap 4 was a time of 31 mins and 25 secs – slower then the other three. An average speed of 9.7 kmph. But I was going great guns to the finish. I said to the lady ‘common then, I’m back, let’s get to the finish’. She picked up her pace to match mine and we run towards the finish side by side.

I did the last 500 metres at a speed of 11.6 kmph (pace of 5.11) and crossed the line at 2 hours and 2 mins, but due to the delay of going over the start, my race time was 2 hours and 58 seconds.

Pleased with that – not under 2 hours, but based on the 10K the week before being 54 mins this was a good result. It was also 7 mins faster than last year which I did in 2 hrs 8 mins and involved a lot of walking on the last lap last year. And I did 2 hrs 20 mins at the Marlow half iron man – but that time was blamed on the mud.

I had an energy drink, a banana and an energy bar. Got changed into some dry clothes and grabbed a coffee.

As I was leaving the massage people had a spare table. I hadn’t had the chance to stretch but was going to after the walk to the car, so I handed over the £10 and hopped on the massage table. Nice rub down on the legs and lower back.

The last two races have taught me so much about pacing. I think I could have gone under 2 hours if I hadn’t kept up with and gone in front of 1 hr 58 flag man, even thought I thought the first two laps were very easy they obviously weren’t.

But I am happy with that result.

Thanks for reading.

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