I’ve always been an average runner. Looking down the list of results I usually appear somewhere in the middle. I go through phases where I love running, I start getting better at it, I get injured so I can’t do it for a while, I have to start from square one, I hate running. I really want to improve because I know that it’s the part letting me down in triathlon, but running and I have a love-hate relationship.
Last season I struggled because I took most of the winter off to go travelling and only did minimal training while I was away. This winter I swapped beach and beer sessions for track and cross country sessions and it definitely paid off. Whilst I haven’t done many longer runs, I think the hills and rough terrain on cross country make it excellent endurance training, as well as being way more fun and filthy than running along the road!
Wokingham Half on 12th February was the first half marathon I’ve done since my middle distance triathlon in August last year. I’ve always found this distance really tough, I just don’t think I’m built for it. But on this day everything came together. I warmed up properly, I ate and drank at the right times, I didn’t go off too fast, I paced it right all the way and I had someone to chase down at the end!
My warm up was a good 1.5 mile walk from where I parked my car, it would have been perfect had I arrived slightly later so I wasn’t standing around getting cold for half an hour! I did a few laps around the field just minutes before the start to loosen my legs up again and I felt ready to go.
The first few miles felt like hard work, I think I was still warming up as the weather was close to freezing and I couldn’t feel my fingers until about mile 4! But I soon settled into a good pace and I felt comfortable. While people were breathing heavily around me, I felt relaxed and was still breezing past them. I didn’t want to get carried away and then crumble on mile 9 like I usually do!
I’d eaten a bowl of porridge at about 7:30 and I had a couple of biscuits just before the start. I had a gel just before halfway, before I started feeling tired, any later and it would have been too late. This will certainly be my strategy from now on as it seemed to work perfectly!
I’m always too scared to look at my watch while I’m running, I wear it purely to keep a record of the race and try not to rely on it for timing as I just run to how I feel. I checked it once at bang on 10k and it was just under 50 mins, which is a 10k PB for me, so I knew I was doing well, but I also knew that I can easily fall apart in the second half.
I drank water at every water station. I had to stop at one point to let an ambulance out, but I feel like that actually helped rather than hindered me as I had a short rest and then still continued overtaking people. This was a new experience for me, I’m used to being overtaken most of the way, especially on the last 4–5 miles. Feeling really strong at about 8 miles I even started to pick up the pace.
About 2 miles from the end I could see my TVT team mate Hayley up ahead. I had caught her up and was gaining on her! I gave it everything I had left, but couldn’t quite catch up! I finished 15 seconds behind her, but it didn’t matter. I’d already absolutely smashed my previous PB by more than 10 minutes with a time of 1:44:26 and was elated! I nearly cried when I crossed the finish line!
What an incredible feeling that was, knowing that all my hard work and training has been worth it. I’m pleased to have found a new pacing partner in my club as it’s always good to have someone to chase!
After the race I could just look forward to all the food I’d be eating for the rest of the day 🙂