On Sunday 30th September TeamPI ran the Bristol Half Marathon. A 13.1 mile route that starts near the Harbourside, running under the Clifton Suspension Bridge and back and then around the city centre. Some 14,000 people took part this year!
Last year Irina & Paul ran in their first ever organised races, the Frenchay 10k and then the Bristol 10k. The RunBristol events are extremely well organised and from our limited experience with them, highly enjoyable. Here’s our thoughts on the build-up to the run and the day itself…
The day in Paul’s words…
Unfortunately a couple of weeks before the run, Irina suffered a minor ankle injury, which meant lots of rest and missing out on our last planned long run. I bottled our planned 20k run, as I need Irina to pull me through the last few km’s, and opted instead for a handful of 5k-8k runs. Luckily it wasn’t a bad injury, and with just over a week to go we could get some last-minute mileage in before the key rest period preceding the big run.
We had aimed to complete the run in under 2 hours and all of our pacing work to this point suggested it would be a close call… I am weaker over the longer distances than Irina, and knew that the last few kilometers would be hard for me, just as she is starting to flow (and speed up!).
Our last 20k run was done early morning, to simulate the race day start. So on the day we arose at 6am, did our normal stretching routine, had breakfast and then chilled out for a while before getting geared up. I wasn’t feeling any nerves this time, unlike the 10k last year, but Irina had some butterflies.
We left the house in good time and parked on the edge of town, well away from the closed roads and inevitable queues… avoiding any stress! It also gave us a chance to use the nice loos in Cabot Circus before walking to the Harbourside and the huge queues to the portaloos!
The atmosphere at the harbourside was brilliant. Really buzzing with thousands of runners, supporters and the noise of the warm-up stage which had everyone jumping.
We got out of our layers, stored the bag and went to familiarise ourselves with the start line and gates.
Watching the two wheelchair starters and elite athletes start started to get the nerves going in me. This was it, we’d done everything we could now and this was to be the furthest distance I’d ever run!
Once the first wave had gone, we got ourselves in place, quite near the start of the second wave. The waiting was killing me, it was a bit chilly and keeping the knees and legs warm was impossible. Finally underway and we had the usual crazy mass race start issues of those who were way faster than the starting wave they were in… weaving past, almost tripping you up as the cut across you! It’s difficult to remain focused on the important things like being careful with your stride and pace while the mayhem is going on for those first few kilometers!
Safely out on to the portway and we were in our stride, slightly down on what would be our normal pace were we not surrounded by hundreds of runners. The portway section felt really comfortable. My iPhone playlist keeping me relaxed and I passed those kilometers by trying to make a conscious effort to enjoy the surroundings and take it all in. So many runners dressed up to promote their charity endeavours, it was great to see. I was also keeping an eye out for a friend who started in the first wave, who is running two half marathons in a week for the British Heart Foundation. I didn’t see him, and no wonder as he ran it in 1 hour 42 minutes! Awesome effort… hope he can do the same next week (ouch!).
The energy gels I’d bought were hitting the spot every half hour, but into mile 8 back in town, I was starting to hurt. Now was when it was going to be hard work… and already Irina was finding her pace and starting to lengthen her stride!
Just before the uphill section past Castle Park my left knee had shooting pain, not enough to make me stop, but enough to slow me down! Coming back into the town centre though I was determined not to stop running… and as we came around to the last kilometer although I was clearly slowing Irina down, I started to feel a little stronger and we powered over the last 200 meters to the line in just under our target of 2 hours… 1 hour 59 minutes and 3 seconds! Boom!
I was white… and had to hang on the fence just past the finish line for a couple of minutes… totally knackered!! It took me ages to find my feet again and get through the sections to collect medals, blankets and tshirts. By the time we got our bag back from storage I was feeling human again (the kitkat in the goody bag helped!) and was buzzing with the realisation that I’d actually ran the whole way round a half marathon!! So chuffed!
We wobbled back through town to the car park, stopping on route to smash a hot cornish pasty and chunky chips in on the way. Getting home we had another stretch, but then made a mistake… After our longest training runs we had taken a 10 minute ice bath, which helped recovery so much… we didn’t realise just how much it helped until we failed to take one after the half marathon itself! By the time we got home we were so tired and it was hours after the run, we just got showered and sorted some food out. The following day we realised the mistake. The level of stiffness and muscle pain was much higher than those 16k & 20k training runs which were immediately followed by an ice bath. Lesson learned… next time, even if its hours later, ice bath when getting home!
We’ve now had 3 full days complete rest, and because we are so used to running at least 4k runs a few times a week we were starting to get twitchy. We had a very gentle 4k jog last night, which felt great, if a little sore on the joints. It was very nice to stretch afterwards though and this morning I write this feeling much better having had that run last night.
All in all the last few months have been really enjoyable, increasing mileage, putting in some speed sessions and then completing the half marathon. I had some doubts that I would personally be able to run the whole way around, so am very pleased with myself. Initially I thought that would probably be my one and only half marathon… but I think I fancy another go…!! 😉
Irina’s summary on her first ever Half Marathon (but certainly not last!)…
As Paul mentioned above two weeks before the race I suffered minor ankle injury. I was feeling devastated and anxious. Never the less it was my first ever Half Marathon and I trained hard for the last few months and was really looking forward to this challenge. I knew that I could run the mileage and that I get stronger over longer distance but the doubts about my ankle kept me subdued.
I did RICE method (Rest, Ice/Ibuprofen, Compress and Elevate). It seemed to help but still I had pain during short runs but especially after. I know, you all probable think I shouldn’t have run. And I have considered that but something inside me wanted to continue. I didn’t want to miss our first ever 1/2M (and I paid for it). I also knew that if I wouldn’t take part then Paul probably won’t either. I was ripped apart by my desire, stubbornness, determination, love for running and excitement.
Two days of total rest before the race, seemed to help a lot and I was feeling good though a bit apprehensive.
Day before race I was getting very excited and nervous. Getting my kit ready, making final decisions what to wear, trying kit on…. going through last preparations and carb-loading. I was becoming calmer and confident that I can do it, the question was, would it be under 2 hours?! I went mentally through phases of long runs I had before and how I felt, what I needed and what I can do to stay focus (to say that I am a very focused and determined person in general). I knew when I would hit the lows and what I needed to pick me up. So my play list was created to cope with this distances and my lows. For example for some reason R&B songs give me that needed kick when I feel low.
Morning of the race – early start. One pint of water down the neck to make sure I was hydrated. Usual breakfast (jumbo oats mixed with porridge, honey, seeds, flaxseed, goiji berries, soya milk. I will come back to my breakfasts routine in later blogs). And relax. I think it is very important to get all the kit ready day before (You might all know that). This makes the race day much more relaxed.
The atmosphere in town was buzzing. I was on a high (runner’s high I think), couldn’t wait to start…..
Waiting for the Wave 2 to go, cold, fresh breeze, need a pee again…
And then off we went. Slow and steady, not too fast. I have to say that I struggle for the first 20 minutes of every run. I have difficulties to breath, find my pace, my body doesn’t want to move, I am in pain and stiff…. But then something happens inside me (I still haven’t found out what exactly it is), my breathing starting to stabilise, I drop my shoulders, relax and increase speed/stride. After 41 minutes I took first energy gel (High5) which for some reason didn’t do anything to me (or perhaps I just didn’t notice). I tried this gel on previous runs and it worked fine.
When Paul gave a shout for 10k mark I was surprised how quick it went. I had just started getting warm and increasing speed.
8 Miles – I took another energy gel – TORQ Forest Fruit (with guarana). That one kicked in immediately. I started to flow and got the kick I just needed. Plus with my genius playlist, I was feeling on a high. I had fun, I enjoyed it. After 10 miles that is where I really started feeling the difference. I was speeding up, perfect stride, superb breathing! WOW! I thought to myself. I can do it! At this time Paul was having his low and I tried to pull him (by smiling. It always works :)).
When seeing the Finish I thought when shall I start sprinting?! Seeing the clock woohooo under 2 hours. Come on babe, we can do it! And we did! My first words after crossing the Finish line were “I want to do it again!” Could it be possible that I am discovering a hidden athlete inside me?!?
That same evening I looked up the Bath Half Marathon. Bring it on! I look forward to the training, new challenge. Already started making training and nutrition plan.
And who knows I might give it a go for full Marathon/Ultra Marathon?!?!