So on Sunday with the thought running through the back of my mind that I was completely under prepared for what I was about to undertake, I and 999 others toed the line for the start of the Marlow Half Marathon. This was my third run of the course and probably with as little preparation as I’ve ever had for a race. 13 odd hilly miles would soon find me out.
Training had been going well until a run of three hard weeks at the office, followed by dark and wet mornings put pay to the fact that I was able to do 12 – 16km without feeling too bad. So this was going to be the longest distance I’d run in a couple of years, what could possibly go wrong.
With a rather lame “whoosh” and a feeble “bang” Guy Fawkes set us off for the run. The first few kilometers are a steady up hill run and good introduction to the course, the weather was almost perfect, cold but sunny but maybe a bit windy. I was aiming to complete the course and hoping to get around in under two and a half hours, my training had gone *that* well and I had a good idea of how well (or badly) I was going to do and what I was capable of doing, still it would be a good test of mental strength.
I enjoy the course, it’s a lovely run through the Chilterns and reminds me that I’m lucky to live in such a nice location, however the scenery can only distract you from the fact you’re running 13 miles a certain amount. I ran pretty much alone most of the race after the first couple of kilometres which I quite liked, had a couple of people that I would go past on the downhills (if you’ve just run up it, you’ve earned the right to let yourself go on the way down it!) as they were more cautious than me only for them to go past me again when their more consistent pace caught up with me again. I only walked one of the hills and it’s the steepest climb of the course and 13km into the run.
I hit a bit of a wall around 16km, and had to have a quick word with my brain, after all the only way I was getting home was to complete the course, so might as well run it! Even if that meant another 5km to go (approximately a further 30 minutes)
There was also an incident on the course where a Land Rover defender passed by me in close proximity at what I would consider excessive speed for the lane, never mind the fact it was dotted with runners, the pass not helped by the driver seemingly forgetting the dirty great trailer he was towing. Sure enough 200 hundred metres ahead of me he managed to clip a couple of runners, no real harm done, but a warning to all of us that we share the roads. I checked the two fallen runners were ok, they were, and continued on my way past the now stopped Land Rover whose driver was in heated discussion with a runner. It was good to note that when he passed me and the runner ahead he was considerably more careful about it the second time around.
Closing in on the final hill it was time to dig deep for the final push ahead of the 3km drop back into Marlow. The final descent was lovely, the course almost complete and I was able to use the downhill to knock out my fastest km of the race, cheating a bit, but it felt good, I even managed to out sprint someone for the line.
So whilst my time might have been slow, it was a better time than I had anticipated and teaches me some important lessons:
- You get the time you train for.
- If you always run at the same pace, you’ll race at the same pace.
- Cut your toenails before running any great distance.
- Don’t wear trainers that you have only done 10km in prior to the race.
Obvious maybe, but experience teaches you to recognise a mistake when you make it again ;-)
Just the Mens Health Survival of the Fittest in Battersea to get through now on the 16th November!
So for your amusement are the graphs of the run from my Garmin along with a race comparison for the three times I’ve completed the Marlow Half.
|Avg Speed||10.3 km/h||9.1 km/h||9.2 km/h|
|Avg Pace||5:51 min/km||6:35 min/km||6:31 min/km|
|Avg HR||174 bpm||167 bpm||178 bpm|
|Max HR||191 bpm||187 bpm||194 bpm|
|Avg Run Cadence||162 spm||162 spm||160 spm|
|Max Run Cadence||182 spm||178 spm||174 spm|