Monday, 4 March 2013

The Bath Has Been Run!

Friends – the Bath has been run!

I ran it in 1h35’54” – exactly 14’ faster than I had run the Bristol Half all of 154 days ago. So comfortably within the 1h40’ goal I’d set myself at the start of last week, slightly outside of my revised, Twitter-fuelled target of 1h34’59”…
…but don’t worry, I’m delighted! I shaved off more than a minute per mile in less than half a year!

Had the course been as flat as I thought it would be, I might well have sneaked under 1h35’: not because the inclines bothered me as such, but because of their impact on the ‘traffic’ ahead of me. Upon signing up on October 4, I had entered a “predicted finish time” of 1h50’. I’d forgotten all about this and can only tell you I’d predicted 1h50’ because I’ve gone and searched for my entry confirmation e-mail today! This was obviously reflected in the pen to which I was assigned. Don’t get me wrong, it was absolutely the right pen for me to be in yesterday on the basis of where I was last October; it just so happens that I’ve improved somewhat since and I spent most of the first of yesterday’s two laps overtaking other runners. At times that slowed me down as I found myself running a road race on the pavement… it felt good but it may have hindered my time sufficiently to keep me above 1h35’. That and slowing down a tad for the final three miles, although my slowest mile (mile 11 – if we exclude the second, traffic-hampered mile at 7’27”!) was still run at a decent enough 7’23” pace. Or, to put it more clearly, at a pace that when I ran Bristol I could only dream of! Overall pace was 7’15”, which is exactly what I said I was hoping for last week. As Richard Lloyd has often reminded me, you always end up running further than the official distance and a GPS watch can be misleading, so I’m going to blame the extra tenth of a mile or so..! I still got in a sprint finish, too: I didn’t think I had that final speed and distance in me, but the sight of the finishing line does strange things to ones legs! That and training obviously paid off and allowed me to sneak under 1h36’.
Not that I knew that at the time: I stuck with the plan and only looked at my pace. I also allowed myself to run by feel a little, because that’s what Trevor suggested. I only looked at my time once I’d crossed the line.
(You want all the boring stats, do you? Oh gu’on then… they’re here!)

Anyway, all of that is great – and do you know what it means? It means I can realistically aim for my first sub-1h35’ in my next half – my homecoming run!

Er… or can I?

My next HM will be the
Sheffield Half Marathon on May 12 – two weeks after the Greater Manchester Marathon, towards which all training efforts are now geared (T-55 today, by the way – oh, and legs feeling fine, managed a steady 3.5mi recovery run this morning). In all honesty, I am not setting myself any goals for Sheffield other than see if I can actually enjoy it – which, for someone who can’t stand running, would be the ultimate achievement! Meeting up face-to-face with some of those #nutters will be an honour, a privilege and a pleasure… who knows, it might just help get me over that particular line…
…but don’t worry, as for scope for performance improvements since we last spoke I’ve signed up for two other halves!

It was always part of The 2013 Plan that I’d sign up for
The Bristol Half Marathon on September 15 – I was merely waiting for entries to open. I then waited an extra few days, since one of the fields asked me for my PB over the past two years and I was kind of hoping I could enter a lower time after Bath…
…what wasn’t part of The 2013 Plan was the Grand Pier Half Marathon in Weston-super-Mare on September 29! This was brought to my attention by a dear friend as part of her reason for not signing up for the Bristol HM this year. A family day out in Weston as summer draws to a close? Well why not… mid-September, I’ll have had four race-free months. It’ll be interesting to see what form I’m in and how realistic a new HM PB could be. With Bristol, I’ll have the advantage of knowing the course: and the Weston course should be fairly flat. But then they always say that, don’t they? 
No, it's not flattering. So?

Thanks all for your support and encouragement in the build-up to Bath, folk… and thanks to Gary Embury for getting me there and back! He ran it in 1h28’, which is just mind-blowing. So, as with Bristol, I got a lift with someone who went on to run the race faster than I did. One of these days… one of these days… ;-)
The whole build-up with Gary was most enjoyable. He picked me up at 8:20, we headed into Bristol and made the 14’ train ride over to Bath. Bath is a beautiful city, although I can’t recall seeing much of it yesterday – was too focused on either overtaking or at least avoiding traffic! I overtook DJ and telly fella Dermot O’Leary at some point: not that I saw him (he’s not exactly a skyscraper), I just can but assume that he was the Dermot whose name females of all ages were chanting. The Athlete’s Village was on a sizeable field and just rolled into the starting line. This was only my fourth race and the first one in which I received a blessing over the PA system before setting off: I appreciated it, much as I also appreciate not everyone will have done. The weather was most definitely chilly, but that’s never an issue once the legs get moving. All in all, a great event – entries for 2014 were meant to open today, must monitor that…

…because absolutely, as I ran the final mile of the Bristol Half, I promised myself I’d never run a half again. As I ran the final mile of the Bath Half yesterday, I promised myself I’d be back – and that I’d do better. What a difference 154 days can make…

…last and least, if you want to see photos of me in yesterday’s race, have a gander here. Because honestly I can’t see me buying them.

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