Sunday was the day of the inaugural Farnborough half marathon. Charlotte and I had signed up for it months ago as part of our ‘training plans’. It’s the first time I have run a half as a stepping stone rather than the main event! It felt really strange using a race as a training event …. normally I wouldn’t consider trying anything new on race day, yet pretty much everything was new! New gels, new pacing technique, no music & a new top! (More of the top later though!!)
I received an email last week from the organisers to say that the temperature for the 9:00am start was due to be 0 degrees and finish at about 3 degrees. ‘Perfect temperature for a half’ – hmm. But this put me in a flat spin. I had been unwell again and after 11.5 miles last Sunday had doing nothing since. With the temp expected to be so low I wondered if I was being sensible. Also bit concerned that I was in pre race wimp mode!
So I phoned the Asthma UK help line and spoke to a very sensible and plain talking nurse. When I mentioned I was concerned about temp she asked me how I normally reacted. When I explained that I always avoided it – she asked me gently how did I know how I would react! She then asked how I would feel if I started the race – but then didn’t finish. We then had a long chat about psychology of racing! Ended up with the suggestion that I try running in the cold for a short distance on Friday night – then decide.
So I dragged my mate Laura out and we ran a really good 5k. That decision made then.
This morning dawned bright and very, very cold. When I left my car it was -4!
No hanging around (parking issues!) Met up with Charlotte and Annie – immediately lost Annie and shortly after Charlotte took off. I was very happy to plod along. It was sooooo cold, I managed to squirt gel all over myself – but was generally happy with nutrition and asthma management. I also ended up a sticky mess covered in gel….must have been the cold meaning out hands wouldn’t work properly!! I missed my mouth!!
Lots of advice suggests you should run a ‘negative split.’ Basically this means you run the first half slower than the second half. It’s not something I’d ever tried, and normally I do start fast and get slower & slower as I go on, so it made sense to try it. (Although I was worried I might just start slower & get progressively slower anyway!) Normally I run with headphones, but only certain headphones were allowed on the course and I wasn’t sure about mine so just left them at home. It felt very odd not listening to music, although lots of people have said it’s better not to listen to music on actual marathon day, so probably good practice! But this also meant I didn’t have the half mile reminders of my pace, so it was very retro & I just ran ‘how I felt!’ I did look at my watch at about 6 miles & I appeared to be roughly on track. At this point I started to speed up & even overtake people….massively confidence boosting!
As I was overtaking people it gave more opportunity for people to spot my top! It was its first outing, my sister brought it over from Germany with her this weekend, but it’s the same style as my other favourite….with the ponytail hole that my daughter hates! It would appear whilst it’s not popular with 16 year old daughters it is a hit with other runners! I heard comments such as ‘genius, brilliant idea, amazing….’ In fact I do wonder whether I should give up the day job and patent the idea in the UK!
I finished the race with a PB….2 hours 24 minutes! Very happy with that, but even more delighted that I felt fine & could actually have carried on! The whole negative split thing is obviously a good plan!!! I find the negative split really hard because I am slow anyway and I do get swept away with keeping up with the tail enders at the beginning. Need to have more confidence in a slower start. I struggle with it on training runs too – because I live on top of a hill – my first mile is always down hill which tends to be too fast!
I finished with a pb! One second on the right side of my target time! So pleased with myself! After hot chocolate with Annie and Charlotte, I walked back to the car. Made a slight error of judgement ended up on the wrong side of the perimeter fence and had to walk about 2 miles to get to the car. Positive though – my legs have to get used to the extra miles!