Back in January 2014, shortly after I began writing this blog, I ran at the Brass Monkey Half Marathon in York. It started in steady rain, which abated mid-race producing near perfect conditions for a fast half marathon. I smashed my PB by 7 minutes with a 1:20:27. I haven’t run quicker since.
The human memory is fallible, but I think we had virtually identical conditions today.
I travelled over to York with teammate Tim. We engaged in standard runner pre-race chat during a soggy warm up lap of the Knavesmire – i.e. what injuries/illnesses we have/had and what time we were targeting.
I hadn’t raced on the road for ages – well over three months and had been ill over Christmas, so I put myself down for a 1:23 as a genuine non sand-bagging estimate of my ambitions for the day.
Tim, a fellow MV50 runner, has been running strongly recently. Although I edged him at the Vale of York Half back in September, I thought he might have the upper hand today.
After the off, I tried to find that comfortable half-marathon pacing sweet-spot. For me, this is when breathing is still comfortable, one can still talk in snatches if required, but the legs are turning over quick enough to know that this is a hard race effort. It’s a fine balance.
I don’t know why, but I felt great during the first few miles, pinging along at around 6:05 minutes per mile, steadily passing people. Tim dropped behind me after a couple of miles.
I thought this sub-PB pace may be a little extravagant, but I decided to stick with it and see what happened. I hadn’t targeted this as a PB attempt, so I thought I may as well go with the flow.
Groups formed and I was in a pack of about 6 along with the third and fourth ladies. Unfortunately for me, my group was moving just a tad slowly, so I went to the front, hoping to drag a few with me. Instead, I dropped them and found myself running entirely alone in no man’s land from miles 5 – 10.
My mid race splits were 5K in 18:57, 10K in 38:04, halfway in 40:11 and 10 miles in 61:17. At 10 miles I still just about had a hope of a PB if I could speed up. However, although the breathing was still comfortable and the heart rate manageable, my legs were really feeling it and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to maintain the same pace to the end.
A Richmond and Zetland runner passed me going very strongly at about 10.5 miles, sportingly he invited me to tuck in as he passed. I hung on to him for about 5 minutes, but he was running 6 minute mile flat pace which was too quick for me, so I let him go (he finished in sub 1:20).
I was firmly in the hurt locker, playing games in my head to try to keep it going and attempting mental arithmetic to predict my time. I knew the PB had gone.
After two small bridge climbs, with less than a mile to go, Tim swooped past me. Just as I would in his position, he surged past strongly. I tried to lift my cadence to latch on, hoping that I might mug him in the final sprint, but alas I didn’t have it. Tim beat me by 5 seconds in a PB time of 1:20:55 (with a 5:56 final mile to boot) to my 1:21 flat.
I was delighted with my run, it felt great to be back running somewhere close to my best and for almost 10 miles I was bang on my PB pace, I leaked away 30 seconds over the final three miles.
As a wee bonus, Tim and I both bagged age group prizes and a few English pounds in prize money – Tim was 2nd MV50 and I was 3rd:
It was clearly a good day for fast times, several other Striders ran PBs and/or great times. Liz Reddington was perhaps the most surprised fellow age group prizewinner as 2nd FV55 :
With this solid run under my belt, I can target the Bath half in 8 weeks’ time for a proper beat myself up PB attempt…could I sneak under 80 minutes? Hmmm…
Next week will be light on mileage, but heavy on fun in the snow, beer and crap food. I’m heading off to St Anton in Austria for four days skiing with a gang of mates. I was a bit perturbed to see that the temperature is expected to be -17°C, -24°C with wind chill. That is F. cold!
LM -14 weeks
58 miles, longest run 13.1 miles
Weight 11st 3.4lbs