Having big plans is one thing, but following through is another. I’ve surprised myself this year by sticking with a single fitness plan – get quicker at running! Even in the face of winter weather and the constant distractions that life throws at you. With a solid winter of training, and 1:25 in the hilly Tunbridge Wells half marathon 5 weeks ago, I arrived at the start line of the Bath Half feeling relatively confident of a good time.
I hadn’t participated in a huge race for years, probably not since the London Marathon in 2004. So I’d forgotten about the claustrophobic bedlam at the start of these events. I cycled to Bath and then jogged to the ‘Runners Village’ as a warm up. It was mayhem. I’d given myself an hour just to go to the toilet and check my bag. I nearly missed the start!
From the off, there were so many people around me it was surreal. Like running in a swarm. I ran the first km in 3:40; the second in 3:43 surrounded by a heaving mass of runners. I genuinely started wondering if the calibration of my watch was wrong as it was so busy. It was a good 4 or 5km into the race before the pack started to split up and I found more breathing space.
The atmosphere around the course was electric. The pavements were lined with cheering people and there was live music blasting out in several places. The route is a double-loop of the city centre which makes supporting more fun. In a couple of places there was such an intense wall of noise it felt enough to stop me in my tracks!
From the halfway point onwards I knew I was on for a PB so I banked it rather than push beyond my limits and risk blowing up. But with threshold racing it’s small margins – running at 99% can feel like cruising; running at 101% will make you stop and puke!
I ended up finishing in 1 hour, 22 minutes and something. A solid PB and around 6:20 per mile / 3:52 per km average. My heart-rate was at “threshold” for 1 hour and 15 minutes!
I didn’t feel too bad the next day. But two days later and I’m feeling shattered, with really sore feet. I ran in ‘flats’ which are arguably a bit lightweight for this distance. I race on feel, and likewise I train on feel. So right now my body is telling me to rest and I’m heeding that advice. And of course just enjoying the feeling of accomplishing a goal. Time for a break before the next challenge …