Sunday, 11 March 2018

The Big Half: Build Up and Race Notes

Herbert and my Big Half Medal
Prior to competing in the Berlin marathon back in 2015, running had been a big part of my life for four / five years. I've been running reasonably regularly since then, but nowhere near the same level of intensity. At one time a 50 mile week would be easy and now it feels like something that is unachievable!

I was happy to reprioritise other things in my life (house building, work & family), but at the same time I used to get a bit upset and how far my times had tumbled. Last year when I saw the Big Half announced I decided that it was finally to set myself a goal and get a race in the diary.

Even with a goal in mind, I still let my training drift as the race was a long way off, until the start of this year when suddenly it wasn't any more! At the start of January I put together an eight week training plan together for myself and have actually enjoyed the structure. I could no longer skip a run because "I was feeling a bit tired" or "I didn't fancy running in the rain".

I knew I had to be realistic and that getting close to a PB wasn't going to be remotely possible as eight weeks wasn't long enough to build a base, some speed endurance and taper. Racing the Hagley Park Run while I was in NZ gave me a confidence booster that I should be able to achieve something in the 82 - 84 minute range.

I started race day nice and relaxed. Bumping into fellow club mate John on the start line we decided to run together as we were targeting for approximately the same time.

0 - 5km
We settled into a nice pace pretty quickly (which surprised me as I hadn't done any training at target pace), and despite quite a bit of weaving round slower runners settled into a rhythm. I could feel my breakfast sitting in my stomach. I'd eaten three hours before the race, but that obviously hadn't been enough time to digest it fully.

Around 4km I was beginning to feel that it was a bit quick and started thinking I was going to have to tell John I needed to back it off a bit as I didn't think I'd be able to make it to the end at the current pace. However, around the 5km mark I started to feel ok again.

6 - 10km
Somewhere around the 6km I started to pull away from John slightly and found myself with a group of runners I recognised from the Assembly League, including a very good female runner called Claire. I ran with them for a bit and then started to ease away from them. I knew I was probably going a bit quick, but I was feeling good at that stage so decided to stick with it.

During this phase of the race I also passed a couple of other Kent runners, Matt and Rowan, who would usually beat me. I probably should rain this in.

11 - 15km
I don't remember much about this phase of the race. Somewhere around the 13km marker Claire came onto my shoulder, but then dropped back again.

I was trying not to be too negative, but at this stage of the race I could tell my lack of speed endurance / general training was going to catch up with me and I'd struggle to maintain this pace to the end.

16km - Finish
As predicted I detonated in this phase of the race. I was trying to keep myself positive and tell myself that it was only a Parkrun distance to go (even though it was further) and also not to look at my watch. In the past, even though it has felt like I've slowed to a crawl, my watch has told me it isn't nearly that bad. If I didn't look I could tell myself I'd barely slowed!

I started to feel a blister on my right heel. Do I stop to adjust my sock? No.

At 18km I received a huge cheer from club mate Alison. It was brilliant, even if I didn't feel as good as I was told I looked. It was at this stage that I started going backwards in the race and I was definitely the one being overtaken. I could also hear lots of "go Claire!". I didn't look round, but I knew she must be close.

Keep going, it's not far.

In the final 200m John came onto my shoulder, he'd clearly run a lot more even race than I had and had now caught up with my. I put in a sprint finish and managed to beat John by around 5m.

I finished in 1:23:17. I was 396th out of 11,598.

The data from my watch is here.

The official results are here. With some fun visualisations of the data here.

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