Reading Half Marathon, part one: The Race

Sorry about the delay in posting this blog.  I’ve attempted to write it a few times and couldn’t find the words I needed. I always find it really hard to write about races which didn’t go to plan and even harder when I can’t immediately put my finger on why things didn’t go to plan and this is the case with Reading Half Marathon.  As it turned out, the blog ended up being quite lengthy so I have split it into two parts – the race and the analysis.  I will post the second part up very soon but will give you time to read through this one first – I don’t want to bore you too much!

I went into the race full of confidence, I’d done some great training over in Kenya, I was feeling fit and raring to go and looking for a PB, thinking of dipping under 71minutes. But for some reason it just didn’t work out on the day. Yeah the weather wasn’t the greatest, but I can’t go through life blaming outside factors and even though the wind was strong and gusty I very much doubt it cost me 2+ minutes.

I’d came back from Kenya 10 days beforehand. Whilst out there I’d banked some really good training. I don’t think I over done things whilst away as none of my training showed any decline which would suggest this and physically and mentally I was feeling great. I slept well, ate well and spent a lot of time making sure I was doing all the right things to ensure that I was recovering from training and preparing my body for future training.

A few days after Reading I sat and went through the race in my head again. Had I done anything wrong during the race? How was I feeling at various points? Had I went off too fast? Yes, I did ‘go for it’ from the gun but I believe you can afford to a little in a half and as Chris Martin once sang ‘if you never try, then you’ll never know, just what you’re worth’ so I did set off sticking to the butt of the 70min pacer.

Cheesy grins with the Big Boss (L-R: Martin Rush (UKA), Me, Nick Pearson (Bigwig at Sweatshop))

Cheesy grins with the Big Boss
(L-R: Martin Rush (UKA), Me, Nick Pearson (Bigwig at Sweatshop))

The pace felt fine but when I checked my 3mile split I knew we were already down on 70min pace. I was hovering around PB pace which was ok, I felt I could still pick up, which I did. My next split was probably too fast. I only actually checked my splits every 3mile/5k during the race so wasn’t aware of the big increase until I flicked through my splits post race. I suppose that is a good sign and in all honesty I don’t think I actually put much more effort in, I just took advantage of a downhill section.

The worrying thing at this point though was that my legs – quads in particular – were starting to feel tired and heavy. It may be due to the downhill section we just went through, but having spent 4 weeks running up and down a lot of hills recently you’d think the legs would be ok with that. Either way it’s not a good sign when your only at 5 miles of a half marathon and your legs are already feeling spent!

We went through 10k in 33.43 and at this point I was in 4th position having lead by a decent margin through to 4/5miles. We were still hovering at my PB pace but I knew deep down that all chances of actually running a PB were gone. I didn’t give up though. I kept working to keep the gap down. I knew that I needed to finish in top 3 Brits to gain selection for the World Half Marathon Championships at the end of this month. I was in a lucky situation in that I already had the qualifying time from last year, so a top 3 finish at Reading and the selectors agreeing that I was in good shape would see me selected.

The wind only got worse as the miles clicked by. By 9 miles I had caught up with the 2nd place female – Tish Jones and supervet Martin Rees. Together we tried to keep the pace respectable, running single file helping to guard each other from the wind along the dual carriageway.

At 11 miles you can see the stadium where you finish but you have to do an evil out and back down the side road where the race started. Going past 12 miles I glanced at my watch and knew we were outside of 72.30. 72.30 was the qualifying time for the World Half. I guessed Tish was after the time as she had yet to run it so I gave her the heads up that she needed to pick up the pace for the last 1.1miles. She took off chasing the time and left me kicking myself for just handing her 2nd place instead of making a fight for it.

Crossing the finish line, the look of shear disappointment

Crossing the finish line, the look of shear disappointment

I entered the final short pitch side stretch and saw the clock tick over to 73minutes. I was bitterly disappointed with my time and it shows on my face on my finish photo. Speaking to some of the other athletes most people seemed disappointed with their times and were claiming to be 60-90seconds down on what they were hoping for. This did make me feel a little better but even with that I was still 30-60seconds off where I believed I should have been.

It had been a tough day at the office but thankfully the next day I got the phone call I wanted – I had been selected to represent Great Britain at the World Half Marathon Championships in Copenhagen on 29th March. It had been a nervous 24 hours wondering if I’d done enough to prove my fitness or if the selectors weren’t impressed. Thankfully they were and I will join Susan Partridge on the start line in Denmark.

It’s always a huge privilege to represent your country on the international stage. From the nerves waiting for the phone call through to the excitement of receiving your kit and then wearing it with pride makes all the hard work in all conditions and all the sacrifices you make all worth while. I hope I can go out to Copenhagen next weekend and run to the very best of my ability and make everyone who has helped me and supported me in my journey extremely proud.

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2 Responses to Reading Half Marathon, part one: The Race

  1. steven says:

    well done in qualifying for the world championship.
    im sure you will partridge a run for her money
    a top 3 finish is great its sometimes tough 1st race back after decent training abroad.
    looking forward to part 2 of your blog.

  2. Charles says:

    Love the photo. It shows people how much hunger you have for the win. 2nd just isn’t good enough.

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