Monday, 12 November 2012

Oxford Half-Marathon report, one month on.

I've been meaning to write this blog post for ages, and just not managed to find the time! So it's now over four weeks since I completed my first half-marathon! It has taken me a while to appreciate that I should feel very pleased with myself simply to have completed a half-marathon, regardless of the time or anything else about the race.  On crossing the finish line, however, I felt quite differently about it, I was in fact feeling quite disappointed.

In the few days prior to the race I had felt a little under the weather, like I was maybe coming down with a cold. Of course this didn't affect my race preparation, as I was now resting after all my training runs had been completed. I did however also have a slightly uncomfortable stomach too, but nothing worse than slight discomfort so I was just pleased I hadn't come down with full-on cold virus or similar and had to pull out.

So, on race day itself, we left home in plenty of time and arrived and parked up at Kassam Stadium with lots of time to spare, and just before it started to get busy and people were then queuing in their cars on the road leading up to the stadium. It was a freezing cold morning which I didn't like very much, but it did warm up later on as it was clear and sunny. There were plenty of loos available near our car park which was just as well - my stomach clearly decided it needed to do something about the niggling discomfort and I ended up having to use the the loos 3 times, even before I went for my final wee wee trip right before heading to the start line.

My cousin Anna meanwhile was queuing to get into the car parks still at 9am (race start time 9.30am) so I went to meet her coming in. We headed over to the start area without really being able to see where the start line was, or being able to see Sir Roger Bannister who was to start the race, so we had no idea how far back we started. 

With my cousin Anna before the race

At the start of the race I hadn’t set up my Garmin properly so it was just timing but not measuring distance or pace – panic!! So I spent time fiddling then switching it off and on again to reset it and find satellites before it started tracking me about a third of a mile into the course! As a result it was tricky to work out my expected finish time, though I was still able to use it to check my pace which was the main purpose.  I found myself weaving quite a lot to get past slower runners at the start, so maybe if I had started further towards the front I wouldn’t have had this problem, or maybe I should have just sat behind them so that I paced myself better, as I'm sure I went out too fast which was probably a major contributing factor to my legs dying at around 10 miles :-/

I was aware that my initial pace was fast but I felt really comfortable and completed 7 miles in around an hour.  The few miles of the course along the towpath were particularly scenic, and through the residential areas the support was great. In addition there were about eight bands playing in different places along the route which was an element I liked. My parents, sister and her family, and my Aunt and Uncle were all supporting at various points.

At about 11 miles
In the last 3 miles however I felt really fed up. Suddenly my legs no longer wanted to work so it was as much as I could do to run at very slow pace, and even had to stop and walk for several seconds every now and then simply because my legs wouldn’t continue. This upset me as I’d always maintained that I didn’t want to run a half-marathon until I knew I could run the distance without having to walk at all. I was also rather upset crossing the finish line in 2:14, not realising that my chip time would a whole 5 minutes quicker because I’d started so far back from the starting line.  Needless to say I was much happier once I saw my chip time!  I think my poor pacing at the start and being slightly under the weather contributed to me not coming in under 2:05.  

With my friend Teresa after the race

With fellow Reading / Woodley parkrunners - was great to have support there!

After the race I did in fact come down with a full-on cold virus for over 10 days, so I was obviously not 100% fit when running, and that's just something I couldn't control or do anything about on race day.

So 2:09:18 for my first half-marathon, slightly under the weather, I know now that I did a great job. This time 2 years ago I was nearly 4 stone overweight and morbidly obese, and couldn't run 5k without walking bits of it. How times have changed....

Immediately after the race my first thought was, never again! Having had time to reflect, I'm still thinking that I shan't be rushing into my next half, as it's definitely not my favourite distance (at the moment lol!) It takes a lot of training, and I do love the 10k distance. I have however already signed up for the Great South Run 2013 (10 miles) in Portsmouth in October next year. I am keen to try a 10 miler and the GSR is supposed to be a good (and flat!) one.  I have even managed to rope in several friends who have now signed up too so it should be a fun affair.

In other news, as they say, I ran, for the second year running, the Halloween Nite Run 5k down at TVP. In contrast to last year, the weather and conditions this year were not great, it poured with rain before the event and plenty of rain in the previous days had left the ground soft and muddy. I found myself asking "why am I doing this??!" However, I once again got dressed up in full halloween costume and joined the 500+ other nutters to run in the rain and thoroughly enjoyed myself again! This race is well organised and great fun. Lots of people I know were also running, and the pumpkin soup afterwards was extremely tasty this year.  I clocked 28.24, slower than last year but very pleased given the extreme conditions! I didn't even bother with my Garmin as there was no way it was going to be a pb on this occasion, so I just ran, slipped around, and enjoyed :-)

Pre race - can you guess what I am yet??

Muddy shoes crossing the finish line!


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