I can’t believe I am writing a post about preparing for a half marathon. When I wrote ‘I Never Ran For The Bus’ I really meant it. And now I am getting ready to run the Robin Hood in Nottingham.
This challenge has come out of our running group at work and 3 of us want to give it a go. As much as I enjoy running with this group, this is something I have had to take on myself. I need to run this at my pace rather than at the group pace, it’s going to be a real challenge.
I have 3 things on my mind:
- Pace and water
- Pre-race organisation
My biggest area of focus is obvious pace and staying well. I’ve been running 10 miles each weekend for the last 4 weeks in preparation for the half marathon. I am really struggling with water and getting the balance right. Sometimes I am really ill from dehydration afterwards and other times I’ve drank too much water and it’s difficult to run.
I’m also getting anxious about crowds which is unusual for me. In my professional life, I speak to large crowds regularly (children and adults). In my personal life, I enjoy large social events. But for running, I just like to get my head down and go.
As a teacher I like to know the plan. I am studying the event times and race village map carefully. Where to park, where to walk, where to drop bags, where to meet. Technology always helps me out in these situations and I’ve decided to make use of Find my Friends on iPhone. My family are going to use it to find out where I am when I finish. Friends from work are connecting with me through it so I can see where they are when I finish and my friend in Australia, Jason, is going to track my progress from Sydney on it too!
The race day was busy. I arrived an hour early to make sure I could drop my bag in good time and figure out where I needed to be. This kept me calm. If I was to run this again, I wouldn’t need to come as early.
The course was great. I felt some frustration around the crowds at first. It was a hectic start and I had a goal of 2 hours in mind so I had to get through that opening rush as quickly as possible. A mile or 2 in to the course we hit the hills around the castle area so this thinned out the crowds and I made up good time bolting up those hills (gains from hiking Half Dome paid off here!)
Wollaton Hall was superb, I’d already ran on a 10K so it was good to return and reflect on my progress from when I ran that. The crowds in Wollaton were great too. Sweets, water and even a band playing. It was at Wollaton Hall I saw on my watch that Jason had text with a screen shot of where I was on Find my iPhone. That was a well timed boost as I pushed through to the end of mile 6.
“Half a worldaway”
The miles between Wollaton and Castle Marina were tough. It seemed to be winding roads, switching back on the route to make up distance. I did see two familiar faces in the crowd at one my hardest points though. That gave me a burst of energy.
I hit mile 10 in good time, running at around 8 minutes a mile. Water was fine, I felt good and I was getting the balance right.
Mile 11 was tough. I was back in the city area with 2 miles to go and this is the furthest I had ran for. The crowds were picking up here and it was a noisy environment. I struggled to keep my mind on running, breathing and pace. I had to really concentrate here and it was exhausting. I seemed to muddle my way through mile 11 and mile 12, and when I looked at my Apple Watch I saw that I had less than a mile to go to the finish line. It felt like a lot further from that point in The Meadows to the finish like at The Embankment though. I saw that even though I felt like I was struggling, my pace was consistent and I did some quick maths.
I could finish this in less than 2 hours.
I pushed through that mental exhaustion and made it to the finish like in 1 hour 57 minutes.
The half marathon came at the same time as a great update to exercise using Apple Watch. The Workout app now used GPS for greater accuracy in pace setting, elevation gain and mapping the route.