A lot of preparation, a lot to aim for, a lot of pressure to live up to my own expectations. In other words a lot was going on when I ran the Surrey Half last week.
The journey to the start line was a pleasant change. A quick train ride with friends, sharing stories long past, and dreaming dreams for the next few hours. This was followed by a short walk through familiar surroundings as we headed towards Woking leisure centre. I used to live a few hundred metres away from the start line so the walk was relaxed as I knew the route like the back of my hand.
Soon the bags were dropped off, last minute checks were made to equipment and this time I remembered to do my shoelaces up. It’s not too late to teach this dog new tricks!
The start was cramped, the starting pens too small and the road a bit too narrow but once out onto the main road all was well. The weather was cool and cloudy as we set off but within ten minutes the heavens opened and the rain teemed down. Or at least I think it did, I could see the splash of the drops in the puddles as I ran passed them.
As a glasses wearer there’s nothing worse than running with fogged up or wet glasses but my pro-tip for spectacle lovers everywhere is to don a cap when the weather is inclement. Not only does it keep my glasses, and therefore view, clear I avoid the rain hitting my face which can be morale sapping.
So, the apparently sodden first few miles passed off with out a fuss, the roads were flat although the camber was deceptively steep in places. The pace was good and I was feeling fresh. This feeling of happy contentment lasted until just over half way. The gradients started and I started to suffer, not hugely but enough to know that I couldn’t keep my pace up. I’d try and make up for the time lost on some of the downhill stretches but there’s only so many times you can do that before it starts to take it’s toll.
Miles nine and ten were the worst, the road felt like treacle, the air like blancmange. It was time to grit the teeth, ignore the watch and get to the finish. I’m not sure I managed it that successfully, the last couple of miles were a bit easier but by then getting close to 1:50 was long gone.
The finish, as is always the case, was a mixture of relief, elation and frustration. Relief that I’d finished, elation that I’d PB by four minutes but frustration that I know I can do better.
I’m not forgetting that I massively ran a half marathon faster than ever before, and ten miles as well to boot, it’s just that this was only my sixth half which means that I’m still learning to run and train for this event so it’s relatively easy to take a few chunks out of my times.
Next time I need to plan my training a bit better, I don’t really know how to train for a half, six halves in seven years isn’t enough to pick up a body of experience so I’m putting that right.
I have a half in June, no chance of a PB there, it’s the South Downs half, it’ll be lumpy. October is a different matter though, I finally got a place in the Royal Parks half and with London being so flat I have my eye on another big PB. Putting it in black and white means I have to do it, the countdown starts now.