Yesterday I ran in my second ever Half Marathon, in the beautiful city of Bath. Irina, as many of our readers will know, was unfortunately unable to take part in this event due to injury. I didn’t have the best preparation mileage-wise leading up to this event, but was feeling good and determined to run it for Team PI! Irina came along and offered amazing support, giving me a real boost when I needed it.
We decided to take the train into Bath as it seemed likely to be easier and less stressful than driving in with many thousands of others. Our journey in did prove to be easy and we had plenty of time to get into the runners village, familiarise ourselves with everything and get ready for the start.
The day itself was very cold, and the covering clouds kept it that way for the whole day. Luckily the event organisers informed us via email before the event that if we wanted to wear an old hoodie or fleece top on the start line before the off, then they would be going round and collecting the discarded clothes and passing them on to charities. So I had a 12 (ish) year old hoodie with me for such a ‘donation’! Glad I did, but even so and even in the huge crowd of people, it was still a cold start.
It took a few miles for my legs to fully warm up and for me to feel like I could up my pace after a very disciplined and steady start. Having put my entry in the white zone (around a predicted 1:45 finish time), it meant I did not have to do lots of overtaking and could really concentrate on that early pace (something we learnt from the Bristol Half back in September).
My mid-race pace was good, and I could feel that my overall pace would be better than my previous long runs, so was happy at that point. Just after 6 miles Irina was positioned where I could see her, which gave a big boost. I think my 7th mile was my fasted of the whole run!
The last few miles were hard work though, as I developed a shooting pain in my left knee. I think this was in part down to the near constant adverse camber of the roads we were running on, and there were lots of parts with splits and uneven surfaces in the road. These put extra strain and twists on my knees. Coupled with the limited training mileage and lack of recent strength work, my knee had had enough at this point! I had to grit my teeth and concentrate on running on the flattest parts of the road whilst avoiding any major twists and sharp turns on the feet for the last few miles. This added work meant I had a couple of flash-points of cramp in my calf, which I was luckily able to stop straight away by relaxing the stride for a few meters.
The last mile of the run felt more like 3 miles! Each corner revealing a long line of runners ahead, still running, until finally, the finish line was in sight. I had no chance of pushing a sprint finish with the knee situation, but I was so pleased that I kept running throughout and managed to get home in 1 hour 56 minutes. There were moments where I thought about walking briefly to help the pain subside, but I knew that if I stop running, I might not start again!
After the Bristol Half Marathon in September, I pretty much collapsed over the line, but this time I felt much better, and had it not been for the knee pain I think I could have squeezed a 1:45 time in. My breathing throughout felt great and didn’t find myself having any ‘head down’ moments through the run. This goes to show that our training, research and self-coaching over the last year or so is really going along the right lines and starting to pay off. (Can’t wait for the next challenge now!)
I really enjoyed the day overall. The organisation of the event was top-notch, the atmosphere on and off the circuit was fantastic, the support from the side inspirational and the course was enjoyable (apart from the last mile! ;)).
Our train ride home wasn’t so great, as the station was packed, trains were late, and we had a long wait in the cold. I was in pain at this point from the knee, and we were both a bit fed up by the time we got home. With a shower, change of clothes and a hot cup of tea in hand, this soon turned into a proud glow about the day!
I have to thank Irina for the wonderful support during the run and for coming with me on the day with the disappointment of not being able to take part. Also we had the chance to catch up with some old friends who we haven’t seen for a long time, and their humorous and encouraging shouts from the sidelines really gave me a big lift… Thanks Giles, Amy and Ben! Catch up with you again soon.
I only have today to go through the ice pack, compression tights, rest routine, before going back to a 12 hour work shift tomorrow… I’m still hobbling slightly, and wishing I’d booked an extra day off!
Looking forward to the next event in our Calendar (14th April, Frenchay 10k), and we are already planning more…