Thursday, 22 February 2018

Race Recap : Wokingham Half Marathon

My first event and target for the year has been ticked off the list. On February 18th I, along with a couple of thousand other people, took part in the Wokingham Half Marathon. I'd set myself the challenge of a sub 2-hour half marathon but it became clear in training that I wasn't going to be able to maintain the speed to do that so I re-adjusted my goal to achieve a PB, anything below 2h10. It had been a long time since I'd been quite as nervous before an event.

In the week and a half leading up to the event, my training went mostly to plan.
Thursday 8th - Rest day
Friday 9th - 1750m swim
Saturday 10th - Zumba Basic and Zumba Gold instructors course. A 10 hour day with a lot of dancing but I'm now qualified!
Sunday 11th - 1hour ramp run and an hour on the bike
Monday 12th - 1950m swim
Tuesday 13th - 45 minutes of fartleks and a couple of easy miles in the evening with clients
Wednesday 14th - Got talked into skipping track my the husband in favour of a Chinese take away on the sofa for Valentines day.
Thursday 15th - 1h10 on the bike
Friday 16th - 1hr on the bike and 1750m swimming
Saturday 17th - Rest day
Sunday 18th - RACE DAY!
The race started at a very civilised 10am. Car parking was located around the town with a 10-15 minute walk to the start. We ended up cutting it slightly fine with just enough time for me to visit the portals (plentiful) and Dean to do the bag drop. Lots of people, a well set out race village and plenty of shouting from the Race Director to tell us how little time we had left before the start. I placed myself roughly where I thought I needed to be in the start pack, Dean placing himself some distance behind me so I could concentrate on my race. We took about 3 minutes to cross the start line and it felt as though there was less jostling for position than usual. There was plenty of support along the entire route, from marshals, clubs and general public. It was a closed road event, on wide roads, country roads and taking in two motorway flyovers... twice. Otherwise it was largely flat.

I was aiming for 9:40 per mile for the first 8, which I managed relatively comfortably, edging a little quicker at times. Then miles 9-12 fell apart. Rather than speeding up I was taking an extra 45 seconds per mile. Shocking. I tried to dig in, pick my heels up, took my gel slightly earlier than planned... nothing worked. I feared a repeat of Oxford Half Marathon. A couple of shout outs helped but the photos from the race show grimaces and appalling form. Eventually I hit the last mile. A couple of women I knew drew alongside and told me Dean wasn't far behind. I swore a bit. I kept the feet moving as best I could, sped up a fraction and crossed the line taking 2 minutes off my previous PB time. And promptly collapsed on a nearby fence.
Dean crossed the line shortly afterwards, having completed the course in 2 hours 6 minutes to my 2 hours 8. We gathered medals, space blankets and bags (no goody bag for this event) and hobbled back to the car. I have to admit, despite the result I felt disappointed with my performance. It shows I rarely truly race events, completing them in relative comfort. And that's fine. If I do that from now on (after the events I've got goals for this year) then so be it. I'd rather still enjoy running than fear it. But it has opened my mind to what I can achieve.
I've learned a few things from the race:

  • Pace at the beginning of a race is crucial, especially when racing
  • Setting A, B and C goals helps to avoid disappointment, and sometimes that means readjusting goals before you get to the start line
  • It's hard to train for speed whilst training for endurance events
  • I am capable of more than I thought and with some more training a sub 2-hour half marathon is possible
  • I need to work on improving my running form 

I ran the event for the Anthony Nolan charity. I'm trying to raise £1,500 for them via my events this year and I would be so grateful if you could spare a few pounds for the cause. You can find my Just Giving page here:

The next event is Brighton Marathon which I'm aiming to complete in 4 hours 30 minutes. Why not donate the amount equivalent to the time you think I'll actually run it in? For example £4.30 or £4.40. If you get it spot on I'll send you something as a thank you!

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