I took most of the year off running, concentrating on cycle racing, with barely a couple of runs a month (generally a 3mile all out race, and a hill session) but I was doing lots of hard cycling miles.
My previous PB for the half marathon was around 1:59 for a standalone half, and 1:43:49 for the half marathon split in a marathon. But I think the goal was a feasible one, as two weeks before the race I did 66:09 for the Cabbage Patch 10mile race.
That race was completely flat though, Barns Green is rolling, and the weather forecast for today, was torrential rain, 30mph winds with gusts up to 45mph. I almost bailed.
It was my running clubs Half Marathon championships, so I had lots of friendly faces, and started off running the first few miles with two of them, and watching the faster club guys come past (not sure why they’d all lined up 200 back, I crossed the start line around 80th or so, which was about right, not held up, not holding anyone else up)
The rain wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been, mostly just drizzle, the winds however were strong, and it’s the first running race where I’ve seen real packs form - not just pacing packs, but actual draft packs, it made a big difference!
The rolling course made my splits tough to know just how even they were - 6:32, 6:39, 6:38, 6:17, 7:11, 6:23 for the first 6 miles, and coming through half way in 44:00 - This worried me, because of the weather I’d scaled back my expectations to getting as close as I could to 1:30, on a good day I was thinking 1:28 was the best I could do. (McMillan reckons a 66:09 10mile is equivalent to 1:27:51 Half, and I normally bias towards the short stuff and Barns Green is tougher than the completely flat Cabbage Patch)
I run on perceived exertion though, so I stuck with the pace I was running. At around 8miles two more guys from my club passed me but I kept them in sight and it was at this point that my running partner from the start of the race dropped behind.
The 10mile marker had been blown away by the wind I guess, as I saw the line on the ground but didn’t hit the watch. Mile 12 became a struggle, all up hill and into the wind, and I was disappointed to see the split come in at 7:26 - although the Garmin has it as a long split.
I knew from 12miles it was all down hill until 400m to go, and I still had 9 minutes to cover the last 1.1 miles. I tried to work to catch the team-mate I could still see ahead. It never happened, but 7:20 for the last 1.1 miles, and a sprint to beat some guy in yellow in the last 100m brought me home in 1:28:25.
Job done, very, very, very happy considering the conditions. I guess I should’ve done better in the Cabbage Patch. A positive split, 44:00 vs 44:25, but not too bad, and I think the course was tougher in the second half.
My Nutrition - went to plan, 100 calories in home made strawberry gels with ~400mg caffeine 20minutes before the start, Gel flask with water/gel mix of around 250calories taken over four seperate evenly spaced shots.
I would recommend Barns Green Half as a race to do, extremely well organised despite the torrential rain and conditions, an interesting and whilst hilly not that slow a course, the hills aren’t steep, so as long as you can descend without braking the undulations help break the monotony. Could do without the long hill at 11miles though.