With a few decent triathlons on the horizon I want to get back into actual training, not just cycling and running to get places and swimming once a year. I'm determined NOT to wing it this time and started my campaign by... winging the Sheffield Half Marathon. Standard. My excuse was that it would be an opportunity to see where I'm at right now, a baseline, if you like.
I love talking to people about their running/races/events and hearing what their PB was five years ago, as if I'm going to define them by how quickly they ran once. What mattered to me today was that I prove to myself that I can still run a half marathon and to set myself a new target based on my current fitness instead of guessing based on what I think I should be running.
Things I forgot, having not raced in over a year:
- Double morning coffee is a total nightmare when the toilet queue is a mile long.
- Should remember she-wee (urinal queue much shorter).
- Cinnamon & raisin bagel with peanut butter and banana.. how I missed you!
- ALWAYS use anti-chafe stuff on a hot day. Huge error.
- Goody bags are mostly full of things you regret eating/drinking.
The race was so well organised and signposted but my once complaint was the number of toilets. We queued for over 30 minutes to have a pre-race wee and I pegged it out of the portaloo to get to the race pen just as the race began.
The one goal I set myself for this half marathon was to do a negative split, something I have never, ever achieved. It's a bit of a cheat because this event is mostly uphill in the first half and downhill in the second, but still required some self restraint at the beginning. The first kilometre in the crowd felt so slow and by the second I had to talk myself down from accelerating to 5k pace to find some space. I'm glad I did because when they say the first five miles is up, it is.
The word 'relentless' was banded about a lot. The hill started gradually, then steepened, then just kept going on and on. At 4 miles there's a '1 mile uphill time trial', which is just madness because you've already been running uphill for four miles and you're knackered when you get there! Then the time trial ends and you're still going up a bit more.
Of course, you're rewarded with absolutely sensational views from the top and you get a lovely bit of downhill too. My understanding, however, was that the second half was all downhill. That was a mis-comprehension. There are a few sneaky ups that continued to wreak havoc with my lungs and halfway through mile 8, the lack of training showed itself.
Fortunately the race was so well supported by the locals that you were never far from a jelly baby. Hundreds of people were stood outside their houses sharing water, hosing down runners and handing out sweets. A handful of sugar got me through to mile 10 where the dehydration kicked in. I had to stop to walk through the water station, glugging a whole bottle of water en route.
The next two and a half miles were gently downhill which was a treat but the last half mile is tough as they just send you a wee bit up again. I didn't have a sprint finish, in fact the last half mile was just about my slowest bit of the whole race. Nonetheless: I can still run a half marathon and I did indeed run a negative split: mission completed.
Next stop: training plan.