Two weeks, two half marathons, two very different races

Chelsea Bridge and runnerLast week was a good week for running.

A filming project for work at the start of the week gave me two, much needed, enforced rest days after last Sunday’s half marathon. By Wednesday, however, even with an impending cold, I was chomping at the bit to get out on a run and enjoyed a pleasant 7.6km trot home from work, which included a PB for the hill from Battersea Park to Clapham Common. On Thursday Anna and I blitzed just over 11km from Green Park to Chelsea, along the river and back through St James’s Park in our lunch break. It was so nice to run together and to feel good on a run again, and our pace wasn’t bad either!

Something else also happened on Thursday. In a moment of endorphin-fuelled, fuzzyheaded madness I signed up for another half marathon with my marathon partner Becks…for that Sunday.

After the disaster of the previous week I was determined to put my demons to rest and Becks suggested we secretly sign up for another half, just to see how it went without the pressure of anyone knowing.

Me at 5:45am
This is what scepticism at 5:45am looks like

It seemed a good idea at the time, perhaps less so at 5:45 on Sunday morning, when I got up, enjoyed a quick shower and light breakfast of a banana and a handful of almonds, before layering up and heading out across the Common on a brisk jog to Clapham Junction. Becks was waiting for me at the station and we bought a cup of tea before boarding the train to Walton-on-Thames.

It was a beautiful but chilly morning and I was glad of the extra hoodie I’d put on. There was a steady trickle of runners heading from the station to the race start and we followed them to the beautiful spot on the river back where the race was due to start from.

River thames and runnersUnlike last week we had plenty of time for pre-race preparations. It was a much smaller race, which helped reduce my anxiety at the start. Having marathon veteran Becks there with me also helped, as did our mutual insistence that it was definitely not a ‘thing’, just a gentle Sunday morning jog.

I felt reasonably strong from the outset and held my pace back to ensure that I didn’t have a repeat performance of last week. Becks was tracking us with her Garmin, just to make sure we were pacing it ok, but I was determinedly not looking at my times as I went.

3 miles, 6 miles and 8 miles all passed with relative ease and rapidity. The route varied between road and towpath, with the latter offering beautiful views of the river. The paths were narrow but everyone was really good about sensible overtaking and allowing you to pass as necessary.

Finsih line By mile 9 I was surprised at how comfortable I still felt, but had no idea of my pace.

Unfortunately, however, mile 10 passed the finish line such that you knew it was within your grasp but the route was to overshoot it before looping back round. I think miles 10 to 12 were the hardest for this reason and they were the only miles I consciously had to get my head into the race.

Mile 12 to 13 however felt great and with the finish line and a PB in sight I had the biggest grin the whole way!

I beat my 15km, 20km and half marathon PBs but more importantly I REALLY enjoyed the race. Without putting unnecessary pressure on myself I didn’t tense up and fold. Having Becks there and having her confidence in me also made such a difference.

Me and Becks at teh Thames halfWe celebrated with tea and nakd bars followed by a trip to Whole Foods.

I really enjoyed running at a smaller event. It felt more like one of my normal running routes and less forced – it really was jsut like a nice Sunday morning run, with the added bonus of getting a PB at the end!

The only problem now is that I want to go sub 1:50 in my next race! Grrr, never satisfied!

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