Saturday, 13 April 2019

Paddock Wood Half Marathon

Getting my kit ready the night before
My running has been seriously drifting for the past three and a half years, but I enjoyed The Big Half last year so decided that I should set a spring target for this year as well. I was going to do The Big Half again, but messed up my entry so decided to do the Paddock Wood Half instead.

I've never been a huge mileage junkie but when I was 'training seriously' I would be running six times a week. Knowing that I didn't have the time or energy levels to do that type of training any more I decided to follow a program based around the Furman Institute idea of running three quality sessions a week and no easy running. 

I quite enjoyed the training, getting back into going to the track and joining some of the marathoners on their early Sunday morning long runs. I was really struggling to hit the target paces from the plan (no surprise really as I was coming in on off such a low base) and having never done a program like this before I had no real idea what type of form I was in. Getting a virus three / four weeks before the race which hung around for ages also knocked my confidence and paces.

However, my last quality session ten days before the race was a really good tempo run with Len. Get rid of the doubts. Focus. Believe.

I usually remember races quite clearly, but this one is a bit of a haze. However, my notes are below:

Despite it going disastrously wrong the at Wokingham Half four years ago I wanted to find a group to run with in this race as I thought tagging onto a group, at the right pace, would really help me.

0 - 9km
I didn't have race pace dialled into my legs so was looking at my watch quite a bit in the first few kilometers to check I wasn't going to quickly or slowly. I was on the look out for a good group, and spoke to a few people on the road about their targets, but nothing (that I trusted) seemed to be forming.

After three or so kilometers I was aware of a group of around six people up ahead that looked pretty strong. Was it possible to get across to them? Did I even want to? Were they going too quick?

I was running on my own. I didn't look behind me once during the race but I had the feeling that I was probably pulling a few people along. Wasn't the free riding along with a group I was hoping for!

9 - 16km
Having floated around 20 meters off the back of a group, I was all of a sudden running with them. I didn't put in a conscious spurt so I'm not sure how it happened but I'd finally joined a group which was one of my pre-race objectives. Don't do any work, just hang out at the back.

They were running a nice even pace and I wasn't feeling too bad. Through this phase I was beginning to feel mentally quite tired, but my legs and lungs were ok so I told myself to suck it up.

In the group was the second women on the road, Emma Navesey, and she seemed to be getting a bit of coaching as we went along. There was definitely one, and possibly two, people in the group pacing her. It gave me confidence that the group would have legs.

16 - 21.2km
The group began to break up at the 10 mile mark with a couple of people pushing off the front. I found myself doing some work on the front of the group that remained for the first time and then getting into a little of no mans land. (I still wasn't looking behind me, but I got the feeling everyone had strung out a bit.)

With three miles to go I was beginning to slow, but I stayed positive, breaking it down into three six minute chunks and the mile markers came sooner than I expected which was a good thing. I don't remember more than one person coming past me in this phase which definitely helped me stay more positive.

With around 800m - 500m to go I did lose three (?) places as people came past. At this stage I'll admit I'd mentally given up and decided to let people go. Knowing that I had to get over a railway bridge on tired legs meant I couldn't be bothered to sprint. Weak I know!

When we were over the bridge, with around 200m to go, I decided I wasn't going to let anyone further come past, but I had a reasonable gap so didn't need to worry in the end.

I crossed the line in 1:22:21, at the quicker end of my expectations, and in 119th place.

It was quite nice to shake hands and have a quick word with some of the group. One of them even thanked me which took me aback as I'd spent the whole time free loading!

I was pleasantly surprised with how I'd performed and have found training three times a week pretty manageable so am going to try and keep that going for a bit longer and see if I can get a good 5 or 10km in over the summer.

I also feel really lucky that I'd recovered from my virus just in time for the race and it was before I caught the next bug from Hope. The race was on one of the few days in the last month where I was actually able to perform!
Hope sporting my medal

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