Having not raced for three weeks I was keen to get back on it. In the middle of the week a couple friends (Freya & Alan) let me know that they were doing the Wimbledon half marathon. After a few days of contemplation I decided to commit to the race and signed up on Saturday. I love living in London and being able to sign up to races at the last minute. Due to not running much over the last three weeks I was starting to feel back to normal after the Bristol + Bath and Trailscape North Marathons six days apart.
Due to the race being in Wimbledon I woke up around 6am to begin my journey across London. Stepping out my front door and into the freezing cold I was starting to regret my decision to race. I got the bus, tube and train and walked to the race start.
I was there in plenty of time to collect my race number and drop off my bag. Freya was unfortunately feeling under the weather so couldn’t make it but I met up with Alan near the number pick up. We dropped off our bags and did a short run to warm up; it was ridiculously cold especially in the wind. It’s not very often I resort to wearing a bobble hat and gloves but I’m glad I had them on me. I just wish I’d have worn one of my buffs too. Having warmed up slightly we waited around for our start time of 9:15. At 8:45 the 10k race started and just after two guys were chatting and casually walked passed me and Alan:
Runner no.1: “How’re you feeling, ready to race?”
Runner no.2 “Yeh I’m feeling… (looks over to see hundreds of runners sprinting off the start line) Oh Shit!” (Both peg it to the start!)
Lesson: Know what time your race starts. (Alan and I were in hysterics!)
After this slapstick comedy we headed to the start line, we chatted about goal times for the race and both decided we would run together and aim for 1:30 then adjust our pace depending on how we felt. We ticked off the first couple miles around 6:52 pace so on target for 1:30; we then gradually pushed the pace and made the most of a nice downhill section. As we all know when you run down on a looped course you’re going to have to run back up. Luckily the hill wasn’t that long or steep so we could maintain sub 7 min/mile pace. It was a bit bizarre to be in a race running along chatting with a mate but it was good as the miles flew by. Once we’d run up the hill around mile 5 the route was pretty flat. It was good to get the first half of the race done and know where to push and hold back for the second lap. We went through half way in around 43 minutes so knew we would be closer to 1:25 than 1:30 if we kept pushing on.
As we went into the second lap we caught up with a large pack of runners (they were taking a little detour as didn’t know which road one of the marshals was pointing down) it was good to be moving forward throughout the race chasing down runner after runner. When we got to the downhill section the pack closed the gap and applied some pressure but we stepped it up a bit and moved away. As the run went on the weather was picking up and because there wasn’t much wind it was almost ideal running conditions. We broke the race into chunks mentally and were saying “the quicker we’re up the hill the stronger we’ll feel and it’ll be 5k or so to the finish”. We were going through the gears and using our competitiveness to aim to overtake the person in front. Something Nick Anderson said at the Brighton Marathon Expo was that “the marathon doesn’t start until 20 miles, and then you shouldn’t stare at your watch but focus on the runner in front and try to overtake as many people as possible.” This turns the race into a bit of a game and mentally it’s much better to pace it and feel good passing runners rather than being overtaken. Having done a fair few races now I much prefer to race this way, when I did my first few events I would go out fast and then try and hold onto the pace and suffer in the last few miles. Every now and then I still take this approach for instance over 5k and 10k particularly you have to suffer to get those personal bests. Had I been aiming for a time and personal best for this half marathon I would’ve pushed it more and wouldn’t have been at conversational pace for the majority of the race. Yesterday the Wimbledon Half was more about enjoying it and getting in a long run at pace so I can still do big mileage this week and get ready for the Trailscape Marathon on the 5th of December.
As the race continued Alan and I upped the pace we managed to do the last four miles in: 6:49 (up the hill), 6:25, 6:16 & 6:16.
We crossed the line in 1:25:26 (on the chip) in 33rd and 34th. Considering we were talking about doing 1:30 we smashed it. Had the route of been a little less hilly I’m sure Alan would’ve got a new PB, I think it stands at around 1:25. I’m sure he will get his half time more in line with his 2:58 marathon soon with the track work he’s doing and the long runs we’re planning. Next year it’ll be good to see what he can do, we’re doing a lot of the same races like Essex 20, Cardiff Half, Paris Marathon, London Marathon, Edinburgh Marathon and maybe Race to the King.
The race was well organised, I arrived early so picked up my number and dropped off my bag with now waiting or issues. The bag drop was well managed so collection was smooth. The goodie bag was decent, ironically we p.. p.. p.. p.. picked up a couple Penguin bars in the cold. We also got water, bananas and a Capri-sun so can’t complain with that. The medal wasn’t really anything to shout about unfortunately but for a relatively cheap half you can’t expect the biggest and best bling.
Well done to everyone that raced or trained in the cold over the weekend. Well done to Lorna and Sasha in particular doing the Norwich Half Marathon. They finished in 2:14 in what was Sasha’s first half marathon. Apparently listening to terrible music like Taylor Swift and Bieber makes you run faster ha I suppose the quicker you run the sooner the music stops.
See a lot of you soon