First race of the year now completed, injury free and full of beans! Here’s my run write up for Weymouth Half Marathon…
A freezing cold morning on the South coast greeted me as I pulled up in the Pavilion Car Park; early. I had just under an hour to complete registration and get my self sorted before an 8:30 sharp start. The Pavilion was already buzzing with people grabbing a coffee, people warming up inside and having a run out. The race organiser, Just Racing, set things up really well in my opinion. There were plenty of staff on hand to give directions, advice and as I hadn’t received my race number I was able to pick it up, with no fuss, very quickly.
The day had in store an interesting out and back run from the Weymouth clock tower on the front, as flat as you can just about get it, out to Portland and finishing back at the Pavilion.
My breakfast consisted of three scrambled eggs on sour dough bread, cup of tea and a juice (cucumber, carrot, kale, ginger, lemon and parsley). On the 45 minute drive I drained a 600ml High 5 Zero Extreme Caffeine Tube – Berry (affiliate link), a banana and half a flapjack.
Being my first half marathon run I took as much advice as I could get and ‘negative splits’ seemed to be the most sensible. If you haven’t come across these, put simply: run the second half of the race faster than the first. Having spent most of my training using the MAF 180 formula I knew I was pretty comfortable hitting 6 minute/km splits so I aimed for 5:30 for the first 10km and then to see where I’d take it from there depending on feel. This strategy worked perfectly for me. Active do a pretty good overview of half marathon ‘negative split’ running here. As it turned out my second half was ran at around 5:15 mins/km.
On the way to the start line I realised I’d left my gels in the car! A humble sprint back to the car to retrieve them then to head back to the start line. I was surprised to see how many people we’re casually walking to the start, probably a 500 metre distance from the Pavilion, and not using this as a warm up? Anyway, I did! Loads of stretching, high knees, heel kicks and gentle warm up jogging to get muscles firing. The gun went of at precisely 8:30am and I’d found my way to near the front of the pack.
The first thing I noticed were the waves of people blasting past me. That was OK though because I had a plan – tee hee!!! Only…after about five minutes of running they kept coming past and I was checking my Garmin Forerunner
every 30 seconds or so: still 5:30/km. It was cool. At the 4 km return it seemed the majority of the field was still following.
By the 10km mark, where I was planning to change my pace, I’d had some nice chats, soaked up the atmosphere and generally had a good first half marathon. The support lining the course was fantastic and everyone racing was in really good spirits despite the cold! I couldn’t help feeling the need to push though, and that’s the rub. In a totally self-empowering, alien frame of mind I stuck rigidly to my 5:30 and maintained a steady pace which would serve me well in the latter stages and give me something to think about as I sit here typing this.
Ahh, the moment. At around 16/17 kms I decided it was a good time to hit my second gel. I attempted to extract my SIS gel from the zipped, back pocket which also contained my car key… Clearly this was a delicate manouvre not helped by my frozen fingers! So I opted for the USN gel I’d picked up on the run which was in my front pocket. Horrendous, gloopy, sticky muck that reminded me of window putty. The rule is: dont use anything in the race that you haven’t trained with. I knew it would have killed my gut so I squeezed that out of the packet (for some reason) shoved it in my pocket and fumbled around for too long with the zip on my back pocket to get hold of my SIS gel. Got it! But I couldnt properly close the zip so spent the rest of the race thinking if my car key dropped out it was going to be a long day.
The last three kms were a joy! An absolute joy!! For completeness, I has pain in my calves and was working my breathing and foot strike quite carefully so as to minimise this but the negative split had paid off and I was scything through the field. There’s nothing more motivating than to have it in the tank to pad past the field. Honestly, looking at my splits as I write this, I could have squeezed more out of the earlier part of the race but being my first half marathon it was a ‘complete’ not ‘compete’. This is fine? I’m working towards a Half Ironman so it’s valuable training.
I nailed the last one km which was lined with shouting, chanting spectators and it was a rush. I somehow upped the pace: 4:35 mins/km and finished at a respectable 1hr 54mins