139.89 – 160.97KM: The Stubborn Runner and the Quest for the Improbable PB (Sleaford Half Marathon)

February 24, 2013

I’m really not sure how to start this post. At some point between the fourth and fifth mile I was struggling both physically and mentally and my mind began to drift away from the race towards the contents of this precise blog post. I was thinking how I would have to write about unrealistic expectations, lack of preparation and how not to expect a PB from every race. However, somehow, after my worst race to date of this 1000km Challenge I am sat here having smashed my PB by around 7 minutes and achieved my target for the entire year of running a Half Marathon in under 1:40:00.

At the beginning of the race I had already decided that today I was going to go for a PB. Common sense would have suggested to save the PB attempt for next weekend at Silverstone, a course I am both familiar with and one that is both fast and flat. Unfortunately for me common sense rarely prevails, those that know me can attest to the fact that at times I can be quite stubborn, so when the race started I set off with the aim of 7:30 minute miles.

I had started the race fairly far back in the group, so most of the first mile was spent trying where I could to get around those runners in front of me that weren’t running as fast as I wanted them too. This proved to be an unnecessary use of my energy, a bit more organisation would have seen me start the race in front of these runners anyway. After the first mile the doubts about today being a good day for a PB attempt began to sink in, for some reason I had got it into my head that the course was flat and all on road, so to be faced with hills and off road sections took me by surprise. My pace began to slow as I was reluctant to push everything into a race where I was unlikely to come close to my 1:46:23 PB and I decided to save the PB attempt for Silverstone.


Around the 5 mile mark something happened. Whilst I am reluctant to label it as ‘hitting the wall’, as it was only a Half Marathon, a distance I am more than familiar with, I was certainly having trouble getting over the curb, so to speak. Groups of runners were coming past me at regular intervals, I was experiencing one of the most intense stitches I can remember having and the mouth piece on my hydration bag even fell out. It’s safe to say I was experiencing my worst race so far this year and I just wanted it to be over. I’m still not sure what, but something pushed me on and I began telling myself the easiest way to make the misery of this race end is to get my arse over the finishing line as soon as possible.

I had previously stopped bothering to keep an eye on my pace as my hopes of achieving a sub 1:40 Half Marathon had long gone, however a quick glance at my watch on the 10 mile mark showed 1 hour 15 on the clock. With only 3.1 miles left to run and 25 minutes between me and my 1:40 target I knew that my dream was still on and I began to dig deep.

The next three miles were the easiest three miles of the race and when I turned the last corner onto the home straight and saw 1:39:00 on the clock a smile broke across my face as somehow I had managed to cross the line in sub 1:40.

It is easy to ignore the negative points from a good race, but although I destroyed my previous PB today’s run will go down as a bad race with lots to learn from. Firstly I should have paid much more attention to the course profile before the race, so I knew what to expect and didn’t find myself having to desperately rethink my strategy halfway round. My diet needs cleaning up and in general I need to start taking more care of my body. My breathing needs strengthening too, I am typically a mouth breather and cold weather like today makes it even more difficult to breathe through my nose. Although this year I have started running with a hydration bag, I’m finding it awkward to drink from as using it blocks my only oxygen supply. I do have a Power Breathe, which I have fallen out of the habit of using which is going to need to form part of my routine again.

Today was a reminder that this year is very much about reaching the 1000km by the 31st December in as best shape as possible. As the saying goes, ‘it’s a marathon, not a sprint’, hopefully despite my PB today I remember this next weekend.

Distance: 21.08 km | 13.1 miles
Time: 01:39:34
Official Time: 01:39:39
Average Pace: 04:43 min/km | 07:36 min/mi
Goodie Bag: T-Shirt, Banana, Eat Natural Bar, Bottle of Water, Flax Seed, Feroglobin and Joint Ace.

View my run:

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