Well after really thinking things through, and deciding that my priority in the Half Marathon today was to take it slowly (maybe even take up to 2 and half hours) and not get injured, I ended up surprising myself, and finishing in 2.06.20.
I’d promised myself that I wouldn’t let pride take hold, and that the most important thing right now is to be able to run again tomorrow (and next year, and the year after….). I’d decided that, whatever happened, I wouldn’t aim for any kind of time. I just wanted to finish well (and to finish pain-free).
As if sent by the Running Gods themselves, a man ran along with me for the first 5 miles, and we chatted away. I told him I was keeping it easy, and that all I was thinking about was staying relaxed. He told me he was 57 years old and was still running every day. He used to do sub-3 marathons (PB was 2.40!!) but now he accepted he was slower. He was just glad to still be running.
He ran ahead at 5 miles. I looked at my watch. I was definitely running faster than I’d intended to! But I was still feeling relaxed, so I just floated on.
I chatted to people; I kept it easy; I concentrated on staying relaxed.
At 8.5 miles, I commented to the lady I was running with that I was beginning to feel it a bit. She suggested I stop at the next drinks station and walk for a bit. So I did. I made sure I drank my drink properly and slowly, I ate a jelly baby; I started to run again. I felt much better! It was only a short walk, but it did the trick.
After this, I just went back to jogging along easily. I walked again at the final drinks station (11.5 miles) and then ran along to the end. I didn’t speed up over the final mile, even when people started to overtake me. I kept it steady. And even over the final strait, I just kept strong, rather than accelerating over the finishing line. That’s how I injured my hamstring a couple of years ago, and it still gives me trouble even now.
I finished, then walked around, stretched, and cycled to the station. I ate the best bacon sandwich in the world ever, and attacked the goody bag. We were given the huuuuge medals. My son is overjoyed at getting this one (we share them out between the kids). I think NeverADullBling will be rather impressed at it!
It turned out that this race included my fastest 10K and 10 miles since re-starting running. This is great! But it’s even better, because it didn’t feel like that. It honestly felt easy and relaxed. That’s partly a measure of the progress I’ve made, but it probably also shows how beneficial it is to just relax when you run. It’s definitely the case when you swim. I move much faster when I concentrate on my stroke than when I start smashing up and down the pool to try and speed up.
As for the race itself, it was fabulous, and I’ll definitely think about doing it next year. It started at the football stadium, which meant that the facilities were excellent. Toilets everywhere! So much space. A friendly baggage drop. In general, this was a really friendly race. The marshalls were fabulous, and it was well supported around much of the course by very vocal, encouraging spectators. I’m really glad I did it.
So onwards and upwards again. My aim this week is to carry on training as normal, despite doing this today. Hill runs Wednesday, an easy run with Vanessa on Friday and 14-15 miles next weekend (gulp!).