Saturday, 23 March 2013

2 of 4

At the start of the year I set myself 4 PB challenges for this spring/summer.

5km at parkrun, 5 miles, 10km and half marathon.

A few weeks ago I completely unexpectedly got myself a new parkrun PB. That was number 1 of 4.

Last weekend it was the turn of the half marathon. Seeing as I am only entering the one half marathon this spring, it was an all or nothing attempt to stick to the plan for 4 PBs.

My history with the half marathon is chequered to say the least. I have always thought that the half marathon was just a bit too far for me and I had only done 2 before last Sunday.

My first was the ill fated (for me) Great North Run in 2004 where I ran too fast and ended up being carried over the line and straight into the medical tent with severe dehydration, then suffering memory loss before being transferred to hospital. Not a great debut.

My second was the Coventry half marathon in 2009 where it was purely about laying demons to rest. I set my PB of 1:33:47 that day.

This time round I felt sure of a PB, was confident I could go under 1 hour 30 minutes and to be honest I was aiming for 1 hour 25 minutes and felt confident I could do it.

There was a little panic after the car parking fiasco and I had to run from the car to the start line via toilets and the baggage area. I then had to dodge between a couple of thousand runners to work my way near to the front in the third row. This was the furthest forward I have ever placed myself at the start of a big run but common sense told me this was where I now belong.

I started comfortably, holding back really, but it was still only just over 6 minute mile pace by 2 miles. I was running with my brother and a friend and we then forced ourselves to slow to closer to 6:30 minute miles for the next 3 miles to ensure we didn't run out of steam.

By mile 6 I was like a coiled spring and was desperate to pick up the pace. The other two clearly weren't up for that and after them telling me to go for it a few times and a 10 metre gap opening up after a water stop, I decided that was the time to make my break.

I was probably in around 30th place at the time and my sudden step change in pace back down to 6 minute miles saw me quickly start catching and passing other runners.

From 6 miles on I basically ran the half marathon alone apart from catching and passing runners. At least I knew the cheers and clapping from the spectators was all for me as I went passed on my own.

I used a technique I haven't used before where all I thought about was aiming to be as close to 6 minutes for each mile. Other than being sure I was ahead of 1:25:00 pace I didn't think too much beyond a mile at a time.

I also decided fairly early on that I was going to maintain the same pace to the finish. I was really enjoying my run, I was ahead of schedule and I didn't fancy a fast finish over a number of miles purely to gain another minute when I was already on for a huge PB. The upshot was that I loved every minute of it and ran at a comfortable pace the whole way.

At around 12.5 miles I caught and passed the lead woman. I always seem to do this near to the end of runs!

As I approached the finish line I saw my wife and kids, which was a lovely way to finish the run.

My finish (chip) time was 1:21:50 for a new PB by 11 minutes 57 seconds and i had smashed even my most optimistic of targets (1:25) by over 3 minutes!

Job well and truly done! PB target 2 of 4 for the spring/summer achieved.

Next up its my first attempt (of the year) at a 10km PB in just 2 weeks time. The 10km will be the toughest of all my PB attempts. I'll let you know how I get on.

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