Two weeks ago – 13th March – saw my final event before Ironman, the Bath Half Marathon.
Coincidentally, this was the first time I’d run an event for a second time. Last year’s Bath Half was my first ever half marathon, and so this year provided a good opportunity to see how much progress I’d made in the last twelve months.
The most obvious difference was the time. In 2015, I completed the course in 2:23:08. This year, I completed it in 1:55:41 – almost half an hour quicker. Much of that improved speed has come from the events I’ve taken part in during the last year, not least the Virgin London Marathon, but a large part of it comes down to the interval training we’ve been doing at Monday night running club. Without that, my training would have consisted of lots of long, slow runs, and while I’m sure my stamina might have improved, I doubt my pace would have picked up that much.
So I have to say a big thank you to Kevin and Evette, our coaches at Runners-next-the-Sea, and to everyone in the group, especially Cat Cameron whose own 1:55:04 time in the Brighton Half marathon two weeks earlier had spurred me on not only to break 2hrs for the first time in Bath, but also to beat her Brighton time too (I failed!).
In all of the excitement, I shouldn’t forget I managed to run a half marathon in under two hours, something I would barely have believed possible even just weeks earlier. Strangely, that now means that my 13-mile half marathon pace is quicker than my 3-mile Parkrun pace!
My initial plan was to try and keep my pace well below 9 mins/mile if I could, and as you can see from the split times below, I managed it for most of the run.
The two miles where I failed to do this were as a result of losing concentration, rather than anything else. My Garmin watch lost its GPS signal, and as anyone who’s done any running knows, when that happens the reading can go from anything down to 16 mins/mile up to 6 mins/mile and anything in between. It can take a good minute or two to sort itself out, and one the couple of occasions when that happened in Bath I inadvertently slowed down a little, losing precious seconds in the process.
That said, I can’t believe I’m really writing about ‘precious seconds’ when the whole aim of all of the ‘Look Sharp in Lycra’ activity over the last two years has been focused on completing Ironman South Africa 2016 – and I don’t think the odd few seconds here and there are going to make too much of a difference to that event!
With the Bath Half done, it’s time to look back and take some comfort in the running training I’ve done. The miles of interval training or short runs in the dark, cold and wet days of winter are easily overlooked, but all the more valuable for it.
These are the organised events I took part in and finishing times:
Vitality Bath Half Marathon, 1 March 2015, time: 2:23:08
Virgin London Marathon 2015, 26 April 2015, time: 4:55:17
Plusnet Yorkshire Half Marathon, 10 May 2015, time: 2:14:38
Saucony Cambridge Half Marathon, 28 February 2016, 2:00:51
Vitality Bath Half Marathon, 13 March 2016, time: 1:55:41
And so, all attention now turns to Ironman South Africa, less than two weeks away.