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Bath Half

What a fabulous 3-day weekend! Friends, food, and a spot of running. What more could you ask for?

Bath is about 4 hours away, which is slightly further away than I'd normally go for a half marathon but we have friends in Bath (hi Jo and Pip!) so it seemed like a good excuse to go and visit. I've been training hard for it, feeling pretty confident, and then about a week and a half ago Clarkie got sick. Very sick. Positively flu-like sick, and I don't say that lightly. I didn't feel entirely hot either. This was not ideal, frankly. My last attempt at a half was derailed by sinuses and high temperatures (my sinuses, weather temperature), and I really didn't want this one to be. My taper was slightly more dramatic than I meant it to be!

Fortunately it all eased up around Thursday, and I managed a short, easy 3 miler that actually turned out to be around the top end of my pace range without actually trying too hard. So I was still on.

The trip to Bath was uneventful, and Pip and Jo's house is gorgeous. As were the chelsea buns. And the bolognaise. And the wine. Barney the puppy was lovely and Hattie the somewhat older dog didn't seem to notice us too much, so all was well. Sunday dawned, and frankly I got very nervous indeed. I had a slightly surreal moment where I could hear myself talking to Pip about hiring people and so on, but really was almost entirely taken up with trying not to panic. The pre-race panic is very strange, and actually seems to be getting significantly more severe as I get happier with my training and pace. I think it's a weird kind of performance anxiety - it's weird because no-one else really cares what your time is, and there's almost always another run to be done if it goes wrong, but there it is. 

Eventually I got to head down to the "athletes' village" (the thought of me being an athlete still makes me giggle), and the scent of deep heat that was filling the air kind of started to calm me down. It's a bit like exams - there's nothing more you can do once you're there. I've always quite liked exams (getting results is worse),so I settled in. 

It was a two lap race, and it took me about 10 minutes to get across the start line. I got lapped by the front runner at around 4.5 miles, which sounds depressing but really wasn't. The crowd was a little quiet in places, and I spent the first lap acting the loon and waving at people and trying to get them to wave back. It's pretty good fun and makes them laugh. Next lap I didn't quite have enough energy to spare! So I just tried to keep plodding.  

I had three goals going into the race:

  1. Beat my PB.
  2. Run the whole 13.1 miles (confession time: I've finished 2 marathons and never run more than about 8 miles continuously). 
  3. Run sub-10 minute mile pace.

I got them all. I finished in 2 hours 6 minutes 48 seconds. That is around 17:30 faster than my PB, which I set back in 2005. When I ran Cambridge last year I finished in 2 hours 39, so this is over half an hour faster. Why? Well, a combination of poor preparation (the halves I've been doing have always been a bit of an afterthought for one reason and another) and illness. My pace really kicked up when I got my asthma a bit more sorted last year (steroids rule, yo), and not-entirely-coincidently I have been more consistent with my training since. So there's a lesson!

The run was quite crowded, and so there are no pictures. My poor support crew froze, and still can't quite believe she managed to miss me 3 times, even when warned that I was on my way. I can totally believe it, it just never seemed to open up the way that I'm used to. That might be the pace. I was totally emotional crossing the finish line, I couldn't quite believe what I'd done. I did manage not to actually cry this time though. 

I went and got clean and then we had a slap up feed before eventually (sorry Jo and Pip if you thought we were leaving earlier!) wending our way from Bath to Bristol to catch up with my Uncle Dickie and Ali (who doesn't like it if I call her Auntie). They fed us curry. We nearly burst. All in all, a bloody lovely weekend!

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