Wednesday, 23 September 2015

“Mile 9 should feel like halfway”

This was the sage advice that resulted in an entirely unexpected half-marathon pb.

After breaking my ankle in February (small avulsion fracture), I spent six months doing nothing, then going to the gym, then gradually remembering how to run.

In a fit of excitement, I signed up for the Richmond half-marathon with a view to pootling round slowly. I wasn’t even sure whether I’d run.

Come Sunday 6th September, it was a beautiful sunny day in Kew Gardens where the race began. I was queuing for the loos, as one does before a race, when I got chatting. In fact, the queues for the loos were so long that every time I went, I turned around and immediately rejoined the back of said queue, knowing the effect race nerves can have.

Anyway, it was on the second round-trip that I got chatting to a man who was aiming for 71 minutes. He was very sweet and self-effacing and when I asked for help with breaching two hours, he said ‘mile 9 should feel like halfway’.

It was with this in mind that I started. And, in line with his advice, I ran very slowly so as to ensure I had plenty of energy left at mile 9. At mile 8, I recall watching a flock of geese fly over the Thames. I think those first few miles were the most enjoyable of any race.

Then, at mile 9, I decided to speed up. Except it didn’t quite work like that. I had loads of energy – and then suddenly I had none. It was hot, I was thirsty and I didn’t have anything on me. So, effectively, miles 9 to 13 were as slow as the first 9, but less enjoyable.

That said, I did have enough to kick for the last 100 metres. Without a stopwatch or any other measuring device, I had no idea of time, but it occurred to me that a short sprint at the end couldn’t hurt.

All in all, it was a lovely race and one I highly recommend. And the biggest shocker, despite the apparent slowness, it was a pb. And not just a pb, it was only 55 seconds off the 2-hour mark. 55 seconds. So close. Next time!

Stats: 13.1 miles; 2 hours 55 seconds; 9'17" per mile. Hmmm... just worked out, had I managed four seconds faster per mile, I'd have come in under two hours. Food for thought.

Pics: Lovely Kew on a beautiful day; the 'winning' medal; blister - must buy new socks.

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