Back to the shorter distances

After something slightly resembling a break after the exertions of the Poppy Half Marathon it was back to the old routine of Saturday morning Parkrun and longer Sunday training runs this weekend.

Parkrun #9 went very well. It didn’t look good up front because the weather was far from pleasant – wind and rain featuring strongly – but the wind seemed to fade and the rain seemed to go away. Fortunately for me the hail held off until after I had finished.

I set out hard and early on overtook some guys I had become used to racing with and I just stayed there hanging on at a reasonably solid 12-and-a-bit km/h. For the last kilo or so I found the downhill section hard but had saved enough for a really strong 15km/h finish, managing to run away from someone who had re-passed me in that last section. The end result was a nice 24:35 – really happy with that.

For today’s run I set out to run 10k at close to 11km/h early on and then try and hang on to that pace as long as I could. The first half went fine and as I turned around my body was calling out for me to stop, but instead I just refocused on counting down the distance still to run.
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In the end I did my second fastest 10k ever and the fastest not in a race situation – a fraction under 55 minutes. I think it’s fair to say that preparation for that winter 10k runs is going really well.

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Poppy Half Marathon

This post is primarily about my Half Marathon experience in Bexhill-on-Sea so if you want to know how my better half got on in her race, you’ll have to ask her yourself!

In short, it was a brilliant weekend and a rewarding and tough race. I got a Personal Best for 15k, 20k and most importantly the Half Marathon but I felt it could have been better. Another day. With different weather.

Our trip started with what has to be the second best pre-flight pilot announcement ever, including being told about how he’ll “get this beast in the air” (hoping he was referring to the plane there) and about the safety briefing we were “about to be subjected to”. I’ve genuinely never heard the opening announcement applauded before. Judging by the head shaking from the cabin crew, it wasn’t planned!

Incidentally the best announcement ever was when I’d been upgraded to Business flying to Antigua and they said they were serving champagne while they were boarding the rest of the flight. Different sort of good entirely!

Anyway, the trip to the hotel was fine and wandering around Eastbourne was lovely. Particularly lovely was the Wetherspoons we discovered. Twice. Ahem….

So next morning saw us head to Bexhill for the event. The sun was threatening to peek through but it never quite made it. It was pretty windy but no more so than we’re used to when running along the seafront back at home. It was tough but fine. I thought.

Jean set off for her race and I fulfilled the important job of a bit of filming and looking after kit. I was rained on a little bit but not massively. The 10k race seemed to fly by. I guess that was just anticipation of my own efforts.

When the time came for my race I was pretty ready. It was still very windy but dry. At the start everyone was gathered up by the start line for what I am informed was a minute’s silence. Although none of the runners in the middle of the field could hear any announcement so we carried on chatting and waiting. I am also told I started reasonably near the back of the field. You see, I couldn’t see where the back of the field was and when you’re in the middle of a crowd it’s pretty tough to try and visualise 400 runners in front or behind. In the end very few runners who started behind me finished in front of me but I had passed about a dozen so I was only a little out of place.
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After the first 8k lap I was still feeling strong. On track for a 2-hour finish (I thought) and making good speed even into the headwind – because it was loosely an out-and-back run along the sea front the wind was either in front and from the sea, or behind-ish. The first half of the next lap went well too, although there were warning signs as I was struggling to hold the pace even with a tailwind. 16km in and all was well.
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Then the wind got stronger and the rain got harder and in the end I just had to stop running and walk a bit and pretty much for the rest of the race I ran a bit and walked a bit up until the last 500m or so when I gave the best finish I had left. It was great to see Jean at the finish and again share our own stories of our own races – they were both hard.

So my finishing time was 2:04:00.70 and I suppose I could be grumpy about missing the 2:03s but ultimately that didn’t mean much to me. 2 hours would have done but I didn’t have it in me in those conditions – my walking only cost me 2 and a half minutes or so. That led me to discover a flaw in my pacing plan because I had calculated what km splits I needed to achieve per my watch to do 21.1km in two hours. Except I forgot that my watch never records a race distance precisely – you never run exactly the measured distance because of running around other runners or just GPS inaccuracy. This time I did about 200m longer so that accounted for another minute and a half or so.

Next March will be my next scheduled Half in Silverstone so I’ll have to plan for a longer distance. I really badly want two hours for that event.

On to the next one then – a 10k race around Regents Park. I haven’t had a raced 10k since last summer so I’m looking forward to that one.
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