Having missed my planned February Half Marathon last week because of family commitments I was pleased to be able to run Race your Pace Half Marathon at Dorney lake yesterday. I didn’t want to waste all the miles I’d run during Janathon and long HM training runs, especially as I thought I was pretty well prepared for once! Over the past weeks I’ve had some good runs at target pace and ran 12 miles last weekend at 9 min mile pace so I was feeling strong and confident.
The only hurdles I had to overcome were avoiding my sons who were both full of cold this week (fortunately with teenagers keeping a good distance away is welcomed!) and coping with late nights (making sure son finished homework and got to bed!). And then a few anxious moments caused by both sons inability to get up and ready on time yesterday so long-suffering OH had to drive me to Maidenhead, so I wouldn’t be late, and return to London to collect the boys so they could still meet me after the race to go away for the weekend!
My first impression was how bleak and windy it was. Dorney lake is in a wide flat open area that the wind howls across! It was freezing when I got out of the car and I was grateful for the few extra layers, hat and gloves which I’d left in the car after BMF last week and to find a changing room where I could exchange my sleeveless running top for a long-sleeved one. The start was delayed by 15 minutes which left many of us runners sheltering from the wind huddled like penguins behind a small building near the start. Anyone turning up looking comfortable in shorts was considered a hardcore outside penguin!
This race is advertised as a training run for Spring Marathons or to ‘race your pace’, bag a PB or test out training for other events. I expected to see more pacers than I did and there was a crowd around the few I did so it was not easy to get close. The start was not well organised with no pens and just a huddle to get on to the road behind the start. Fortunately most runners appeared to be disciplined and generally tried to position themselves in the correct huddle for their target pace. I was in sight of the 9 min mile pacer before the start but in the slow shuffle to start lost them in the crowd and apart from being lapped during the middle of the race by the 1.30 pack and then lapping the 12 min milers towards the end that’s all the pacers I saw until the finish when I finally caught up and finished just behind the 9m/m pacer.
The race was as I expected. 4 nice flat laps of a long thin lake. Not too inspiring but less monotonous than I feared. (The best views were courtesy of some of the over-taking front-runners in their far too revealing race shorts being blown off in the wind! Kept me going – thanks chaps!) There were good water and Lucosade stations at either end of the loop but that was about it. Apart from the wind. Did I mention the wind?
The outward stretch of the loop was against a strong headwind (which shows in my mile splits for miles, 2,5,8 and 11) and then the return leg (during the early part of the race) had a useful tail wind. Unfortunately the wind increased as the race went on and become a cross wind so that my pony tail was at right angles and I had the feeling that I was being blown into the lake!
I had aimed to run at 9 min mile pace but went along with the group a little bit quicker to start, I thought about pulling myself back but found my rhythm with my garmin showing overall average pace 8.48 most of the time, so stuck at it. The 4 laps whilst slightly boring were useful in pacing, knowing what was to come and giving me satisfaction that I had got to a certain point again. I could steel myself for battling the tough mile out into the wind and look forward to the return loop where I felt stronger and could push the pace a little.
Fortunately my wheels didn’t fall off around the 8 to 10 mile stretch like my last half marathon. My legs did have a short wobble and ache around 11.5 miles but I told them to hurt away all they liked, however they were still going to keep up the pace for the last mile and a bit and bag me a PB!
Would I run it again? Maybe, maybe not. But certainly not in a hurry. It’s expensive for what it is, no goody bag, a basic medal and not much atmosphere. A good option for checking pace during marathon training and good if you’re chasing a PB.
It delivered a PB for me yesterday so I have no complaints!