My ambitious marathon training plan (the one I follow when things are going well and I’m feeling good) called for a sub 2 hour half marathon last weekend. Fortunately my other plan (which I refer to more often when I’m feeling exhausted and a little fed up with marathon training) only required 14 miles of me so I had a back up plan if I needed it!
But I was also keen to run under 2 hours again for myself (even if only by seconds) having done so in all 4 Half Marathons I ran in 2012 but not in any I ran in 2013.
So after a lovely day on Saturday with lots of good company, shopping , eating and all round fun, race day arrived. We had a leisurely start having treated ourselves to a hotel only a short walk from the start so we were not out in the cold rain for too long before the off.
It was busy at the race start and I wasn’t too happy to find myself in the crowds stuck towards the back of my start zone where there were also people wearing the coloured race numbers for the zone behind. I also overheard someone around me discussing her planed pace and my heart sank. I realised I would have some work to do to weave in and out and get ahead if I wanted to stick to my planned pace of 9 mins per mile, a whole minute faster than that. (Note to self on my honesty and accuracy of predicted finish time for mass, popular races!).
I had decided not to be an idiot and try for a PB or a fast race, but to start out at a good solid pace and stick to it. That should take me round just under the magic 2 hour mark, to give me confidence in the eyes of my ambitious marathon plan and be a good even paced test of how my training was going.
As feared it was very busy and In the pack I had to really work at settling into and maintaining my pace without wearing myself out from weaving in and out in a sort of fast-slow race interval run. The Bath Half is ‘Bath flat’ as I found out last year . I was disappointed not to be able to take the opportunity of the downhill just after the start and bank 30 seconds or so of faster pace for later as the first few miles were very crowded.
It eased a little and I was able to keep close enough to my plan for the rest of the two lapped course. At mile 10 I was smug in overtaking a couple who had been ahead of me until then and had annoyed me by ignoring the marshals always running outside the cones on the right hand side of the course reserved for the overtaking front-runners as they lapped us.
The last 3 miles felt like a marathon in themselves, not just ‘a parkrun to go’. I was still having to overtake and squeeze through gaps of people running three abreast. The uphill before the last turn to the finish didn’t help either. On the turn to the finish I glanced at my watch and realised I was dangerously close to 2 hours. I was a few seconds over target average pace plus because of garmin inaccuracy and/or too much weaving in and out of the crowds I was going to run a bit over 13.1 miles so needed a good sprint finish to duck under 2 hours.
It was close, but I did it with 15 seconds to spare!
A big, well organised and supported race in a lovely city. This year was a bit too crowded for my liking so although it’s a great race I think I’ll be giving it a miss for a few years before I come back again.