Thursday, 31 October 2013

October running

October has almost come and gone without a single blog post. There are various reasons for that but I thought I would squeeze a post in with an update on the running I have been doing.

The month started with the Royal Parks Half Marathon. I went into this race aiming for both a PB and a sub-2 for the first time. It was my third half and I felt in better shape overall than I had previously but also a bit under-trained in terms of the long slow runs. Much as I had enjoyed running in the lovely weather, I actually found it harder to keep to my planned runs over the summer- I was busier with other things and I let training slip. I had done a 10 mile race in September and an 11 mile training run, but I had been aiming to get up to more like 14 miles so was a bit worried. I also felt under pressure because my 5K and 10K times had come down quite a lot since my previous half so on paper a sub-2 should have been achievable but I knew it wouldn't be that easy.

Neil and I stayed over in London the night before so that we could definitely make it to Hyde Park for the 9am start. There was the usual portaloo queue but I ended up with just enough time to spare to get to my start pen before the race got underway in a very smooth start. I'd ended up in the Green wave which I think was something like 1hr 40 to 1hr 55 - although that was slightly faster than my target time it was definitely the right wave for me - I felt like I was running at the same pace as people around me for the entire race and I kept seeing the same faces which was nice. The brilliant atmosphere and usual race day adrenaline powered me to a much too quick first mile but I was able to settle into a nice rhythm of just under 9 minute miles. It was an absolutely beautiful morning and London was just looking wonderful - we ran along the embankment, past Trafalgar Square, down the Mall and past Buckingham Palace before back into the parks. I couldn't believe how stunning the parks were - it was an ideal Autumn day (if I was being fussy it was possibly a bit too sunny for running, but I had my sunglasses and the trees provided plenty of shade) and I remembered how much I loved our seasons. Looking back on it now it was just one of those races where everything seemed perfect - I have blocked out the various aches and pains along with the stress of my Garmin splits not matching the mile markers (I was terrified that my sub-9 minute Garmin pace wasn't going to lead to a sub-2 if my Garmin was measuring wrongly) and can just remember feeling happy and lucky to be running in such a beautiful race!

Neil was a fantastic supporter and managed to see me about 5 times because of the way the course looped around. He'd worked out and told me in advance that every couple of miles there would either be a drinks station or I'd see him - that really helped with the mental side of things particularly at miles 10 to 12 where I did struggle a bit. I felt like I was getting slower and slower - looking at my splits this wasn't the case at all, I was actually remarkably consistent but maintaining that pace was clearly becoming increasingly difficult to the extent where I hadn't even realized that I was maintaining it! I only let myself relax when I could see the finish and knew I was going to do it - I came in at 1.57.35 and was chuffed to bits. I think it's the first race I've ever done that I was unconditionally pleased with - I knew I had pushed myself the whole way round and still managed to really enjoy it. I'm aware that this blog post already seems quite cheesy, but when I crossed the line all I kept thinking was "I've done it!". Running can be really great and that race for me just reminded me of that.

Immediately afterwards of course I couldn't really walk - I struggled to even sit down and I was very stiff for about 3 days. My increased fitness had got me round in my goal time, but my lack of distance training showed afterwards - my legs really punished me! More strength training and more long slow runs definitely on the cards...