Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Prague Half - Race Report

Well I'm back in the country after 3 days away indulging in delicious food, cold beer, flavoursome shisha and 13.1 miles of city streets. The 13.1 miles on the streets were the worst part by far! I was feeling really good before this one. Saturday morning was a carb loaded breakfast, hanging around a bit (not a fan of Midday starts) and then jumped onto the Metro to the chaos that was around the start. I have to say though, very well organised chaos. The bag check in was quick and painless, the toilet queues weren't utterly horrendous and all looked as if it was going to be a good day for a PB. Then we got to the start and the cobbles. Oh how I will never underestimate how much they can affect your race again. We hung around a man with a Red Balloon with 2:00 printed on it and tied around his shirt and that was my aim... To keep it in my sights for the first half of the race before picking it up in the second and get my PB.
This is my only gripe with the race organisation. All the runners were lined up by number and not by estimated time which meant that there were a lot of people trying to get to the front from the back and vice versa. This made the first few k's a complete free for all. We set off aiming for 5.35 k's (9 m/m) for the first half and it all seemed to be going well. Eatingtrees' Garmin was saying we were slightly up on time and my pace band said we were spot on for the first 8k so all good. The pain across the top of my foot arrived at around the 3km mark but it wasn't bad enough to stop or slow me. More just awkward. We jogged our way North West of the city along the river that meandered through the city and at this 8-10k point was where the tram lines and cobbles came out in force! These just seem to sap the energy from your legs and ankles.


At 11k I tried to pick up my pace in accordance with my race plan (the race plan was a new concept to me and part of my trying to become a proper runner.... pah!!!) but I just couldn't do it. Every time I picked it up, I had to get myself across 3 sets of tram tracks and the entire path and road covered in cobbles. It was an effort just not to trip up.

I watched as I lost seconds to my pace band at every km sign I past. This is pretty devastating to be honest but I still knew I could get a good time and that alone was pushing me on. Step up 17km marker and a check on the watch. Feeling OK and I could still post a time I would be happy with but I couldn't let myself drop anymore. Continuing back towards the start/finish was long straight roads (read cobbles) and I knew even though I was still 2/3km away, I was nearly there. I turned onto the bridge knowing that the 20km sign would be here somewhere and after dodging not one but two moving trams, the 20km sign was there. Look at the watch time. 1:52:20 ish. I had about 6 minutes to get to the finish or I wouldn't even get the PB I felt I should have got. I really pushed now with everything I had. Up the hills, over the cobbles, through the little tunnels with some great crowd support and there's the blue mat on the floor leading to the finish line. Another look at the watch. 1:58:08. Bollocks! I have only 25 seconds until I lose the PB chance. Now it's head down and give it everything. Running past people, coming to the line, finger on the stop watch... and Stop! 1:58:29! I'd done it. Only just but I'd done it. I had to wait for my official time and that came in at 1:58:30 so a new PB by 3 seconds.

In the end, around 3mins 30s longer than I wanted but a PB none-the-less so job done and on a bloody tough course too.

So will I run it again? Not if I'm aiming for a time no but was Prague worth the visit? Absolutely and I'm glad that I allowed myself to be bullied into it in the end. It's a course that shows you the modern city, the new regeneration work, the classic bridges, the Eastern block style history and of course, the cobbles. They alone, will be my eternal memory of Prague!



  1. Good going on the cobbles. And a pb is always a fine result, no matter how hard or close.

  2. A PB is a PB so well done.

    I think Prague has changed a lot since I was last there. Then the food was awful but the beer was wonderful. My carb loading was mostly liquid.

  3. Cheers guys. As you say, a PB is a PB. The post race shisha and race debate with eatingtrees told us we'd both done the best we could so I'm still pretty please with it

  4. esp with a sore foot. Suffering myself at the mo. Boo Hiss

  5. Congratulations on the PB. Cobble stone is the death of most runners (i.e. me) but you toughed it out and pulled off a PB. Impressive! I'll go spark the hookah now in your honor :-)