Today was the second of my autumn races in the build up to my marathon (in 4 weeks time Eek!), my 9th Half Marathon (yes, my 10th will be a full marathon) and the 4th time I’ve run this race.
Running two half marathons only a week apart at a decent pace is pretty hard work! Especially when you’ve banked 3 miles on the way to the second one because you’re not supposed to be running a Half Marathon but bashing out 18 miles of marathon training. The original plan was to race Ealing last weekend and then treat today as an easy training run, enjoy the event and scenery and add a few miles to make up my long run. But I’m afraid I just can’t run a race without trying, whatever I tell myself! Last year I ran this one with friends taking it easy, enjoying the atmosphere and sights because I was just coming back from injury so there was no way I wasn’t going to have a good race this time.
So I started out with lofty ambitions of attacking my PB or beating last weeks pace. I was a bit miffed that I was in the blue start zone (having been in the one ahead before. Am I the only one who puts an honest expected finish time down?) and I was preparing myself to be cross about the overcrowding. It was a very busy race and I did have to do a fair bit of darting in between gaps and had to be patient a few times where the course narrowed to get round people running slower in pairs particularly on slight uphill stretches.
My first wobble came early, around 8 miles (more like 11 for us reminded my militant legs) and because my legs really did ache a bit I had to get realistic and think about adopting plan c, to finish sub 2 and for the next few miles just dug in to hold my average pace below 9 min miles. At 11 miles I manned up with only 2 miles to go helped by a lovely marshal shouting ‘ just think how you’ll feel when you cross the finish line!’ and started to push forward weaving past and overtaking people around me.
I tend to race these days without music. I can concentrate on pace better and enjoy it more without being plugged into my iPod. But I decided to run with music today, knowing it would be harder work on tried legs and because it’s a big busy race where most people are plugged into their own music. I was listening to audiofuel and their Run Wild 2 hour-long run mix for the first time in ages. The timing was perfect, I started it just before the start line and the last 10 mins of the track was fantastic coinciding perfectly with the 12 mile marker and had me sailing across the line on a high. Absolutley delighted to be ony 58 seconds slower than last week.
I was prepared not to enjoy today’s race. I prefer smaller less crowed races where everything takes less time (baggage, loos…) and less crowding gives a better stab at pb pace. I expected to be cross about the crowding and too many slower runners ahead and spectators pushing into the course and the scrum at water stations. Yes there was a bit of all that but it didn’t bother me. It was a lovely autumn day running in a great capital city and beautiful park with great marshalls, many having great fun and encouraging us all along, and a wonderful atmosphere.
So, hard as it is to get into this race via the ballot, its relative high cost, it’s still only 2 miles from home and I enjoy it so I will keep trying to come back for more.
My run today was in 3 parts. An easy run, a half marathon and then I planned to run 2 miles home to make it up to 18. Well I planned to. My militant legs had other ideas… I sent them the message to start running home and the message received back was Pi$$ off! So I walked home trying many times a few pick up ‘jog/shuffles’ but every bit of my legs was agony. All good practice for what it will feel like at mile 25 of the marathon I’m sure!
I was worried, having mainly walked the last 2 miles home, that maybe I hadn’t run my full 18 miles long run. But when I thought about it (I do walk a bit now and then on long runs and am quite ready to walk some of my marathon) I added the time and distances all together which still gives an overall pace which I’d be delighted to run for my marathon! So I am still logging today’s shuffle/walk home as part of my run! I’m sure its time on my feet that counts.
Run 1, ‘Warm up’. Easy 3.11 miles in 32.40
Run 2, Half Marathon. 13.2 miles in 1.57.58
Run 3, ‘Cool down’. 2.16 miles in 33.59
So put it all together and….. Marathon Long run of 18.47 miles in 3.04.45.