Ok, I know its not an Ultra but here’s todays event report…

Well after a pretty decent effort at the Thames Trot I had scheduled an easy week of running before a little quicker effort at the Wokingham Half Marathon.

The weather on the day was wet and cold. It will be of no surprise to you all that it was raining! It was pretty busy this year with around 2100 runners on the day and it felt pretty congested at the venue. The kit tent which had been situated on a wet and muddy grassy area was a virtual quagmire before the event.

The plan for the day had been for a “decent effort”. No particular time goals but a quicker run than normal. I didn’t think my Half Marathon PB of 2 years ago (1.33.40 at Reading) was under threat and had sort of planned to go at a comfortable but not too shabby (for me) 7.30m/m to get mr home around 1.37-1.38.

I bumped into a few fellow Reading Joggers before the start and said hello and then we were off. The first mile is always a little frustrating as you try and find a bit of space to go at your own speed bypassing the number of people who has obviously positioned themselves high up the starting grid when they have no realistic chance of achieving that time and then end up creating bottle-necks for other runners. This is one of the main reasons I don’t enjoy short distance races as much as Ultra’s due to the general congestion before and during a race and the general logistics of large field races.

So with that little whinge over, I settled down into 7m/m pace which felt pretty comfortable and decided to continue at this pace and see what I had in the tank after the Thames Trot. I started to run with a guy called Ian as we were leapfrogging each other for a bit and we had a brief chat as we headed on.

The first few mile splits were 7.00, 7.00, 6.55, 6.58. A fellow RJ runner (another Ian) glided past me and I decided to keep him  in sight. The next two mile splits were 6.54, 6.56. The weather was wet and my hands were cold but everything else was ok and I wore a cap (my lucky cap) to keep the rain out of my face.  He asked me what I was aiming for and I said closer to 1.35 than 1.45 to which he glanced at his watch and said you are going to smash that. Not wishing to feel too confident, I responded with a “We will see” and continued on.

I passed the 10k mark dead on 43mins which would have equalled m 10k PB and was a little surprised that I felt pretty comfortable at this point. Surely I would blow up soon?

My next 3 mile splits were 6.51, 6.52 and 6.53 and I led the original Ian and popped a gel during this point (although struggled to open it as my hands were so cold). In previous races (and I haven’t run a 10k or Half for quite some time) I would be blowing hard at this point but I felt ok despite the driving rain and wind.

The next two mile splits were 7.04 and another 7.04. We weren’t drifting past as many runners now and I definitely started to feel it in my legs at this point. However, if I could hold this pace I was on for a new PB but a little outside  a 1.30.

Around this point it did start to feel a little harder and Ian went ahead and I settled in behind him. In fact Ian was leading another female runner home and talking her in and I was quite content to sit in behind him (and sneakily try and draft him as the wind hit us in the face as we hit some more exposed roads). Mile 12 was a 6.55 and I was just about holding it together now. My thoughts were now on the finish, just over a mile to go and this would be over. Just keep it going, keep it going. I was glancing at my Garmin far too often at this point.

Ian must have picked up the pace as mile 13 was the quickest at 6.44. We headed back towards the start and I could then see the finish, a few hundred metres to go and I would be there.

As we turned the corner to the finish, one of the marshals was shouting you are 10 seconds from the end run it hard and I sprinted (in my mind) towards the end a bit further out than I normally do and weaved around a couple of people crossing the line in an official time of 1.30.48. A new PB by nearly 3 minutes. Wow, where did that come from?

A quick hello to Jen Bradley who I saw at the end who had finished on 1.30 dead. I walked to the kit tent and immediately put a warm fleece on and thick gloves before heading back home after a quick chat with the RJ coach Arthur who had come to support the runners. I was pretty wet and cold after that run and wanted to get back quickly.

To be honest there was a slight disappointment that the 1.30.48 wasn’t a sub 1.30 but I hadn’t really expected that result at all so no complaints. In fact I was pretty satisfied overall, not bad for a veteran ultra plodder.

The best part about the run was how comfortable it felt throughout most of the race. I’m trying to think why this race was different from others. How could I maintain the mile splits I did when it has felt like a struggle in the past. My mileage is pretty high for a runner but that has been a constant, I did have an easy week of running after the Thames Trot which was good but I honestly think those few hill sessions and interval sessions (despite only doing a handful) did contribute and perhaps an early indication of the benefit of smarter training?

A quick thanks to Ian who did a great job pacing me in for the last few miles. I will probably never see him again but appreciate his efforts today.

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