Surrey Half Marathon Race Report

A goal: 1:45:00
B goal: finish it

Training was good, longest run was 17km and had done 40min at goal pace and both felt good. Biggest week was 40km. Slightly worried about a tight right Achilles and whether it would last for the whole run. Had twinged it on Christmas Eve and it still wasn’t 100%. Would often feel tight in the morning and at the start of runs before loosening up. Had run a 21:25 5km so 1:45 seemed very achievable but have never done that distance before.

Tapered down the week before with 3 easy runs and 20min on Friday before race on Sunday. On Saturday I was out with the kids and mostly just ate lots and rested, didn’t drink booze.

I normally run early morning before breakfast, but the race wasn’t until 9am. Woke around 6.30 and had a coffee plus peanut butter and banana on toast. Made sure I’d emptied my guts before getting picked up around 7.30.

Parked about 10min walk from the start and headed down to drop bag. Immediately lost the 3 guys I’d come with and was second guessing myself on everything to do. Much more nerves and uncertainty compared to just going out for a run in the morning. Also compared to heading out to play a rugby match where the stakes were much higher.

Went for two pisses and then headed over to the start at about 8.50. Had a gel containing caffeine at around 8.50 as well. Found the 1:45 pace group and my friend Tom and then did mostly my normal warm-up rather than the group one the guy was leading. At the last moment decided to put my phone in my belt rather than my shorts as I was worried about the zip on the shorts pocket, then race started. Was listening to a Dan Carlin podcast about the Mongols. Also carried a collapsible water bottle with me so I wouldn’t need to rely on the water stations, had usually done this in training as well.

First couple of km lots of dodging people and trying to stay close to the pacers, was a bit worried about losing them too early so stayed really close. Eventually settled down and just enjoyed the run and the podcast. Pace seemed to be a little high so was a bit worried about going too fast but decided to just stay with the pace group. Amazed by all the different body shapes and ages running, motivating to just stay with the group but didn’t really engage with anyone. Had lost Tom immediately at the start and didn’t see him again until after the finish but he must have been close all the way.

After 40min I was in uncharted territory but still feeling good. Had a gel at around 50min and no gut issues at all. The last 9km or so was out and back so could see runners returning on the other side of the road, very motivating to see these people close to finishing and moving fast. I had a caffeine bullet around this time as well which tasted pretty bad but gave me something else to think about and didn’t give me any issues.

There were lots of people on the turn into the down and back stretch which gave me a lift, great seeing all the support and positive energy. At the turn I made sure to accelerate out to keep the pace up.

At this point I think the caffeine was hitting and I felt great. Switched over my music to a podrunner 180bpm mix, managing to do this without dropping my phone and decided to go out ahead of the pacers for the first time. Sun was out, I latched on to the shoulder of another runner and decided to just go faster with about 5k to go.

Felt really good here, music was great and was running strong and fast. My left calf twinged a little so made sure to focus on technique and cadence and not go too crazy just yet. Had another gel as I thought it might help the calf and because didn’t think it could hurt. These last few k are a bit of a blur really, just remember feeling really good and running fast. Kept looking at the watch and seeing it was only 15 or 10 min left and I could definitely run that fast. Had a bit of a scare when I saw a 3k sign when I thought I was only 2k from finish, but that must have been for the 5k race. Coming down the final finish I really opened up the stride and tried to pass as many people as I could. Wanted to make sure that family saw me finishing strong and not looking tired. Sprinted across the line in 1:42:37

Splits from Strava

Things I’d do differently next time:
Be less nervous at the start, have a pre-race plan and follow it
Set a more ambitious target, I think I could have gone under 1:40
Use body glide, had some chafing issues I’d not had in training

Really enjoyed my first race though and looking forward to doing more. That last 5km was a real high experience which I’ve not had before and I want to experience it again!

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