Getting up at 6am on a Sunday isn’t particularly ideal whatever the occasion, let alone driving a long way to go for a run.
A lot of the last week I’ve been researching how to prepare to run this distance when you’re so close to the event. Most sources were saying rest, which I was fine with! I had massage and did a really short run on Thursday. I had rest down! What I wanted to know about was diet and carb loading and what I should eat the night before.
The advice I liked the most was, “don’t do anything you wouldn’t normally do.” Kind of makes sense. My body has been used to running on a fairly decent diet with too much sugar and processed carbs. I gave it the fairly decent diet and only one Caramel egg the night before.
The morning of the run I had some Huel and a banana and concentrated on hydration, remembering that I had to drive to Manchester, pick someone up, and then drive back to Wilmslow, which was about 1 hour 20 minutes of driving.
By the time we parked up it was about 75 minutes before race start, or just enough time for 2 toilet visits, a massage (I thought this was best to get rid of the driving) and a warm up. I’ve had a specific warm up routine so I’d packed yoga blocks and towels to put on the floor so that I can concentrate on muscles that I know I struggle with, but I normally do the warm up and go out straight away. Here I had to do it and wait, so I ran down some side roads on the way to the start line to keep the blood flowing.
The race started and my limited experience of such an event said that I’d go faster at the start then I would plan to. I think this is natural. It’s like if you’re driving and want to overtake another vehicle, you naturally accelerate to go past before settling down to a speed rather than simply maintaining speed through the whole manoeuvre. Being in a tight pack, you need to run past people, so the start is fast.
I hit a period of the race maybe a few kilometres in where things began to thin out and I was checking my pace, but couldn’t slow it down. I knew I was going at an uncomfortably fast pace for me that I couldn’t maintain through the duration so I wanted to slow it, but I wasn’t able to. While I knew it was too fast, I also knew that I wasn’t trying to push the pace which gave some confidence.
I think the first time I noticed I was struggling was about 10km in, which did sap all that confidence. I felt that I was having to drag my legs round and I wasn’t running freely. The biggest difference between this run and my training runs was elevation gain. I wasn’t used to it and I felt that I was sinking in to my legs putting pressure on my hamstrings. I was running consciously.
This was most noticeable when I had nothing else to concentrate on. A few kilometres in I noticed a sign for food a pub, and thought how good it looked. I looked at the countryside around me. I spoke to Ian from Chorlton Running Club. I noticed how the cattle farms stank!
When I was struggling, I got annoyed by people watching who were drumming wheelie bins with broom handles and by the cyclists who decided that they were better than the road closures and by the spectators I had to run round because they wanted to walk on the road rather than footpaths.
At 13km, two things happened. The day before, I was out with friends and they were teaching their child to sing Baby Shark with my name in it. I remembered that! It was also the point where I noticed that people were running past me and that I was no longer running past anyone except those who were walking. At that point I was out any type of “race”.
The 1 hour 40 minute pace team caught me up with 5km to go. I also heard people shouting how far I had to go, but the distance just seemed to be going nowhere. I thought I saw the finish line on a number of occasions which, when I’ve run 10k, has been the signal to step on it. I expected to be able to do some sprints, but as soon as I tried to put the hammer down, each step felt like it was pulling everything I had. At some points, I was even struggling to keep my eyes open.
The reason for that was that my pace, that far too fast pace, was actually staggeringly consistent for the whole run. In my full training run the week before, my fastest kilometre was 4’38”, the first kilometre. Most splits would come within 40 seconds of that until the end, when I was within 90 seconds and 2 minutes of my fastest.
In the race, by fastest kilometre was kilometre six at 4’21”. Ten of the first 11 kilometres were faster than the fastest in my training run. My slowest kilometre was the last one, 49 seconds slower than the fastest.
The crowd towards the end helped. I hit the finish line and was shattered, but I couldn’t find anywhere to lie down so I grabbed a bag with a medal in it and some drinks and walked to the car.
I trained for a half marathon in 6 weeks and did it. I recorded a time of 1 hour, 40 minutes and 15 seconds. Those 15 seconds are kind of irritating, I won’t lie! I am, though, very proud of myself. It was 11 minutes faster than the half marathon I did in training, and I actually ran further!
(Continues to the important bit after the picture…)
I am, of course, going to milk this for the purposes of this blog and will have a few posts coming.
However, the biggest thing is that I am so staggeringly grateful for the support that I’ve received in the form of sponsorship to a charity that means a lot to me. As things currently sit, I’ve raised £380 of a £120 target. I’m so, so grateful. I’m also so humbled. Thank you.