So I ran my third half marathon of the year yesterday. I posted about my decision to run this one here.
I had a nice early 6am wake up, I got a lift to Chepstow which was very lucky as the bus would’ve left 5am and forced me to get up at a ridiculous hour. I was feeling okay about the race, I had my mind set on a pb, but I have been struggling with this stupid knee injury so that took the excitement away a little bit. Also, I had heard rumours about the hillyness of the course and that didn’t help either.
My aim was to run 4:30 pace for the race and finish 1:35 ish. I knew the hills would slow me down but I thought I could catch up on the lost time on the downhill bits. I am usually very obsessed with my garmin and stare at it way too much. So when the race started, I decided I won’t look at my garmin apart from when it beeps for the 1k lap time. I changed the screen to the time of day instead so I couldn’t see my pace all the time. I thought I’d, for once, run based on how I feel and just check the 1k times. The only one I really managed to run in 4:30 was the 1st kilometer. After that it was gentle downhill and obviously the excitement of the start carried me and I accidentally ran a 4:11, then realised I need to slow down but ran another km in 4:15. This is pace I ran in my last 5k race. So clearly my body doesn’t have a clue how to pace accordingly 😀
Some gentle uphills started and I finally eased my pace closer to 4:30. Everything was going great, every bit I had to slow down on the uphill I made up on the downhills. At 10k mark my garmin showed 44:45. This is when I started doing maths in my head and figured I might get 1:34ish time. So when we approached this famous Hill I was happy that I had some time to spare. On the race website it describes it as an undulating course with one hill. On the event facebook page there was a lot of hype about The Hill beforehand so I was quite intrigued to see what this hill is about. Well, it was definitely one of the worst. It wasn’t even that long but I think it was the steepness of it or maybe because you already had few hills before that but it really did hurt.
I once heard somewhere that if you walk up a hill you waste less energy than if you try jog it, even if it’s the same pace. I don’t know if this is true but when I saw my attempt at running up it, which turned out to be more of a shuffle, and I noticed a man next to me walking I decided to power walk for a bit too. When the man next to me started running again we were still on the hill but I gathered maybe he knows that it’s over soon so I’ll copy him and start running again too. I made it to the top eventually and I felt a lot better than I thought I would. It was nice downhill from the top and I think my walking really had helped me save some energy at that point because I felt amazing running down. My 1k time for the hill bit was 5:44 which meant I was 1 min 15 sec behind my goal 1k splits. I started playing catch up and ran the next few kilometers around 4:20 pace again to get me back to my goal time.
It was amazing and everything was great I was in a flow until out of nowhere it just stopped as if I hit a brick wall (and this is only a half marathon!!). The downhill ended and my legs finally realised how tired they are from the hillyness and terrible pacing because even the downhill is tough on your legs. I feel like my lungs get a break on the downhill but legs won’t, if that makes sense? So I suddenly felt overwhelming exhaustion on my legs and they just felt so weak and I just wanted to stop and collapse. I don’t normally take gels on half marathons but I had one in my pocket just in case and I took half of it because I really felt like I needed something. I think it helped a little bit but when the course began to have some little climbs again I was done. This must’ve been about 15 km in and no matter how I tried to psyche myself and tell how it’s my head that’s giving up before my body, it really felt like it was my body that was giving up, my head was still racing for a pb.
Anyhow, the last kilometers dragged and were a nightmare. I don’t know how I even managed to move my legs, they weighed 100kg each. And no, I am not being dramatic at all 🙂 My paces varied between 4:38 and 5:02 during the last 5k. Until the final bit I still tought I was gonna get a small pb out of it but as I turned the last corner before the final stretch I saw yet another hill and that was just it. Way too much time climbing up that and as always in races my garmin had beeped the 21,1k already but I hadn’t seen the finish line yet so the last hill and that ‘extra’ 140 meters I had to run to get the official 21,1 km took the last bit of pb hope away from me. I finished in 1:37:38, which is 16 seconds slower than my pb from Cardiff half marathon last October. Considering the hillyness of the course I think I should be happy with it. But I’m not gonna lie, it’s always annoying when you miss a pb, and especially if you miss it by so little. I did find out afterwards that I came 3rd in the Senior Female category so that’s always a nice surprise.
I do include hills in my training and run up some hills during easier runs so I’ve never thought I’d struggle to get up a hill. I guess what I’ve never done is run a hilly tempo run. Maybe that’s something to take home from this experience and worth trying in the future.
The weather was perfect for running and my knee didn’t even hurt so that was positive. The race itself started on the Severn Bridge. The bridge and the motorway were closed for runners which makes it pretty special. The views, as much as I did look at them, were beautiful. Unfortunately, at the start I was too excited to look around and when we came back over the bridge I was too exhausted to look around me. But I am sure the views were wonderful 😀 The bridge sure is:
On a totally separate note, can anyone recommend a good kinesiology tape? My previous one was one from physioroom. It’s been good so far but half the tape came off my knee at 8km into the half marathon so looking to test a new one.