This was a strange race, that turned out to be a bit of a catalyst for the year ahead. I was due to run with a colleague, who had previously run at a very high level, but had let it go for one reason or another over the years. His goal was around the two hour mark, which would be quite comfortable for me, so I hadn’t given the race too much thought.
A few days beforehand, something came up at work, meaning he couldn’t make the race. All of a sudden I had a choice to make; Go and run the race as a training run with a medal at the end, go and go all out and see what happens, or my preferred choice….lie in until about midday and sack it off completely. I definitely have that third option in my wheelhouse, if given the chance.
I decided to go and push it a little and see what happened. Training is all well and good, but once you are in a race everything changes, for me anyway. I feel totally different in race mode than I ever do in training, there is a little extra buzz that cannot be replicated anywhere.
It was a beautiful fresh morning, the event was organised spectacularly, fellow running nerds will appreciate this, I just parked up, rolled into the baggage check and off I went to the start line.
6:20 mile pace is the focus for 2019, by the end of the year I want to run a marathon at this speed. I like to have a pace for the year that I base my training around, always giving me a kind of North star around which everything else hangs. Easy mileage will be around 7:30-8:00 pace, below 6:00 is fast stuff.
I knew 6:20 for a half this early in the year would be ambitious so I decided to roll with a cadence I felt happy with and see what pace that turned into, which was around 6:30 on this day. One hill in particular was just devastating, I slowed with the guy next to me to around 8:00 pace, it just seemed to go on forever! But the 50-ish miles per week has put some reserves in the pot for me, I was able to finish strong in 1:25:18 for 33rd place.
This race served as a reminder how much fun the shorter distances can be, I hadn’t run a half for about two years before this, which seems very foolish now. It was a great tester and confidence boost to put in this performance at the last minute, I’d actually run a little more than I would have liked in the week leading up to the race, as I didn’t know I would be going solo. Having said that, I came away with a 4 minute pb, which is slightly erroneous given that I haven’t run the distance for a few years, I would have been disappointed to be over 1:30 really, hills or not.
For a smaller event, the support and marshalling was excellent all over the course, most of the route you are running on the left side of the road while the right side stays open! That will keep you focused if nothing else.