my running adventures – barefoot or otherwise
On Sunday 28th September, I went back to the scene of my worst running race thus far, to compete in the Robin Hood Half Marathon, for the third consecutive year. Let’s just say I was hoping to put the demons to bed from last year, and dramatically improve my Half Marathon PB.
To do that, I had to run 1:27:31 or better. I’d told friends and anyone else who was interested that I was hoping to get inside 1:25. In my mind though, I had 1:20 in my sights. After failing to live up to that target last year due to illness, I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself this time round.
Friends of mine had been kind enough to give me a lift, and we got to the race village in plenty of time to join the never-ending queues for the portacabin toilets! We seemed to have been a bit too laid back in our preparations though, as we left it quite late to find our pens and within what seemed like seconds, we were off!
I should just say that a big difference this year compared to last was that I got the food right (2 slices of toast and honey for breakfast and a small cup of tea, rather than milk-laden cereal!). Another significant difference was that I was running with my Garmin GPS watch and heart-rate monitor, and NOT with my phone.
I knew I had to average 3:46/km(ish) pace to achieve my goal, and things started out really well. Check out my first 10k splits below!
So, I was well inside my target pace at the near-halfway mark (with a near PB for 10k into the bargain!). The problem was, I was suffering. It hurt. I really felt like I couldn’t keep this pace up, and I still had more than half the race to run.
It was at about this point that the route got a bit more interesting, escaping the bleak Boots industrial site and heading on to the beautiful University of Nottingham campus. I was also cheered on by three friends, who gave me a boost with their support and took some pictures (the ones you see brightening up this blog post!) – so, a hearty thanks go to Dave, Tim & Helen.
From this point on, I was determined to ensure I kept to sub-4 min kilometres, even if I couldn’t quite keep on track with the 3:46/km pace I’d wanted to execute for the entirety of the race.
The Castle Boulevard section was tough, as it seemed so long and support was hard to come by. The support I did get made a huge difference though. I was struck by how willing children were to show their support and cheer you on, even if they didn’t know you. This support and the knowledge that all of my Strava friends, family and work colleagues were all bound to ask me how I got on after the race, gave me the determination and motivation to dig deep and carry on.
When I eventually got to the Embankment, where you are killed mentally (if you let it) by the fact you have to run past and away from the finish line, before you loop back to it, I was feeling tenacious. Knowing I had only two miles to go, I just had to keep it all together. That’s what I kept telling myself. Keep it together.
This was also the point of my literal downfall last year, where I collapsed and was sick (seeing my breakfast again – apologies for the detail), before being helped along a bit. I was so pleased that despite feeling pretty exhausted, I carried on past that fateful section and kept running at a decent lick.
The last 400 metres or so was a further kick in the teeth – having run the majority of the route on the road, transitioning for the finish on grass was a leg-sapper. It felt like all strength had finally vanished and that I was running on jelly. When I looked at my pace, I actually ran this final section faster, but it really didn’t feel like it!
The sucker punch was that I was overtaken by about three other runners who hadn’t made their presence known for the entire race until this last section – something to work on next time: finishing strongly!
You can check out the entire Half Marathon race, my pace, elevation of the course, and my heart rate stats here:
Have you raced recently? Did you meet your target for the race? What are your racing plans for 2015?
Another pic courtesy of Dave H!