What a difference a week makes. From a bad day out at Cambridge Half last week (with thoughts of giving up this running lark, mainly from Miles 2 to 8!) through to an magnificent day at Bath, and trying to hold off entering more events!
The Early Miles
With Cambridge having not gone to plan, I decided that I’d head out at about 8:40 minutes per mile pace, my confidence for trying to hit sub 1hr 50m well and truly shot to pieces. I’d then try to step up the pace towards the end of the race and just try and see an improvement on my time from last week and see some progress if nothing else.
The Bath course sees you run about 2.5 miles out onto 2 laps of an approximate 4 mile loop. The opening mile appeared to be downhill, and suddenly I was running 8 min miles. Still, go with the flow I thought, good to bag some time and I’ll slow down when the course levels off. Mile 2 seemed to start downhill too. Someone who was more switched on than me questioned whether we’d be running back up all of this on the way back (PS. This is all sounding quite dramatic, but it was almost flat, just slightly downhill overall – the reverse of an ‘upflat’ if you will).
A Downhill Half Marathon?
Mile 3 saw a short sharp climb before it then appeared to go downhill again. At this point my mind wondered if they’d somehow managed to create an overall downhill half marathon! My pace kept around the 8 min / mile mark and by mile 4 I decided that I’d just keep this pace going until half-way and then rethink what shape I was in.
The crowds were fantastic, particularly in and around the city centre – where the supporters were at least a couple deep in places. It had a real feel of a big city event, so hats off to the organisers and the people of Bath for coming out and supporting.
The Tougher 2nd Lap
The pace stayed on, but suddenly on the 2nd lap the short, sharp climbs on lap 1 were turning into slightly longer, slightly sharper climbs and the downhill sections seemed much flatter than before. At Mile 9 the legs really emptied and I struggled to keep them going (Mile 10 was my slowest mile of the day). Despite trying more and more, I just couldn’t speed up for the last couple of miles, and the finish line was hidden around a corner – I think I managed a sprint for about 50 meters, before then giving up and just coasting over the finish line – crossing the line in 1hr 47m 16s, some 7.5 minutes faster than last week (and my fastest half marathon for over 4 years).
So What Changed This Week
Hmmm. I didn’t get cold before race which probably counted for a lot. I also ran 3 times in the week before the race, something that always helps.
I also wore my new trainers, so maybe there is something in that. It was also my 1st race in my Willen Hospice top – this could quickly turn into my favourite running top!!
An outstanding event, that ran like clockwork. No queues for the baggage (indeed, there was literally no queue at all, either to drop off or pick up), plenty of toilets and the ‘Runners Village’ just reminded me of a festival. The course itself was great, either as a PB hunting ground, or for excellent support.
The smallest gripe, and nothing to do with the race, was the parking situation. Getting parked was fine, but all the car parks seemed to restricted to 4 hours. Mind boggling really when you think about the number of people who’d happily be drinking coffees and having lunch post-race. Instead, once I’d finished, I jumped straight in the car and headed out-of-town for lunch and some coffee – can’t help but think Bath are missing out on something there.
Willen Hospice and MK Marathon 2017
In May 2017 I’m running MK Marathon to raise funds and awareness for Willen Hospice, an amazing local charity. I’ll be blogging my journey from here to the finish line. If you’re in a position to make a donation, however small, it’d be greatly appreciated. My JustGiving page is here, or alternatively you can text ‘GBMK50 £3’ to 70070 to make a £3 donation.