Sunday, 16 October 2011

Maidstone Half Marathon Race Report - Ups and Downs

If I've learnt just one thing this year, it's that I can blag my way round a 10k and post a semi decent time. Push hard out of the blocks, get through half way and then just accept and deal with the pain that comes around 8k. Never going to be the quickest but job done. Not a problem. Today's race was a Half Marathon though. You can't blag a Half Marathon but I also know I hadn't done adequate training for this race which we were doing to 'celebrate' a friends 40th.

Christ was it cold this morning though. Up at 6am ON A SUNDAY and then had to de-ice the car before myself, Mrs HMC and The Boy could leave. That's not what you want come race day.

We arrived just before 8:30 for a 9:30am start and Mrs HMC and The Boy headed off into town to find a coffee and somewhere warm. At that point I decided I was going to run with my arm warmers as I only had a short sleeve and you cannot quite understand how grateful I was to have packed them the night before.


I met up with eatingtrees and Paul and headed down to the start as we were discussing guestimated finishing times. I guessed 1:56 - 1:57. This was based on my recent 17 ish km run and using that pace plus a little bit for the additional distance.

A quick note about the route,  a dull first half along the side of the A20 and undulating throughout but a pleasant and countryside based second half with less pavements to trip on than the first made it a pretty good overall course but not a favourite. The marshaling and support was second to none though. Thanks to everyone for their encouragement.

The start horn sounded and we plodded along but the route was very crowded and very soon I decided to take to the side of the road and paths in order not to lose too much time. The first mile was recorded in 8:08 which delighted me and then the fear came. I'D FORGOTTEN THE NIPPLE TAPE. NOOOOO!!!! Oh well, too late. The shower was going to hurt later! Along with a second mile of around 8:00, I knew I was setting off fast but I didn't want to slow and then fail. I at least, wanted to push as much as I could and then crash nearer the end if that's what was going to happen. I just carried on and generally hit the 8:10 mark.

I ran through 6 miles in 48:4(? something) and I was happy with that. Not far off my recent 10k times. I then decided that I would go through the 7 mile mark and add 54 minutes and that was my time to beat. Knowing how much I'd slowed on the training run, I thought this was a good guess. 7 was done with the clock reading 57:3(? something). OK, time to beat was set at 1:51:30. It would give me a PB by 3 minutes and so I plodded on up and down the undulating route but I had a nagging thought of what if...

8 miles completed and now a new target. I knew sub 1:50 was a possibility but I would have to push really hard and give it everything. I did and as the miles ticked on, an energy shot was taken on board and the sodding hills never stopped coming. The downs becoming worse than the ups as the legs were starting to burn. I just wouldn't stop though. Now I knew sub 1:50 was a maybe, I knew I'd be absolutely gutted with anything less.

When I did my first Half, I forgot about the extra .1 of a mile you have to do. I wasn't going to make that mistake again. At 9 m/m, that .1 takes 54 seconds. That could make or break it. 12 mile mark. 1:41:28. I only had to run one more 8:30 and then I'd have a minute for the last .1! One last push.

The 13 mile mark came round in no time and my watch read 1:48:52. COME ON!!!!!! Look down, keep the legs moving and probably look as though you're dying in every photo. Here comes the finish line. A KERB!!! WHO PUTS A SODDING KERB 20 METRES FROM THE END! Up the kerb into the tape, over the mats, stop the watch, check the watch, collapse sideways in the dirt. I'd done it. 1:49:41. I was now a sub 1:50 half marathoner, had a PB by 5 minutes and 10 seconds and I was and am, bloody delighted!! Even the shower wasn't as painful as it should have been... There's only one problem with my time today but I'll save that for next time. I'm going out on a high with this post!