I approached today's race with slight caution. After spending the week suffering/overcoming illness and a bad chesty cough, I was aware that my body may not be ready for another 20km and I was very conscious that overdoing it could set me back and jeopardise next weeks run.
My original plan for the race had been to try and run at my optimum Marathon pace (8:00 minute miles) and come in around 1:45:00. However, given the past week I was prepared for things to go badly, so was happy with anything below two hours. Lining up at the start line I was given a harsh reminder that spring isn't quite here yet as the temperature was refreshing to say the least. I had paid little attention to the weather forecast before the race so was shocked to see someone asking on Facebook as to whether the race was still going ahead, but seeing the snow covered hills on the way down to Grantham this morning and the height of the river I wasn't surprised that there was some concern.
|Taking it steady|
As a result of the sheer number of races that I will have to enter this year to reach my 1000km target, a lot of the races that I will be running will be completely new events. Today was no exception, the Newton's Fraction Half Marathon was voted in the Top 10 Half Marathons of 2012 by Runner's World, so my expectations were high. Personally, I would not have rated it that high, whilst it was a challenging and enjoyable race it didn't have the same appeal to me as runs like Silverstone or the Robin Hood Half Marathon.
One thing I will give the race is that it has some beautifully difficult hills. For many, this wouldn't be considered a plus point, however the feeling of satisfaction once you've climbed to the top cannot be matched and this was certainly the case for the two I encountered today. The image below should illustrate the intense gradient these two hills had, whilst nowhere near as unrelenting as the hills at Stamford, these two definitely felt much bigger.
|Warning! Sudden never-ending inclines|
A good endorsement for the hills is that about 75% of the runners I encountered on the hills had opted to walk up them instead of running. Perhaps though this was a tactical decision as many of these runners came past me again when we had reached the top, as they put the energy they had conserved by not running up the hill into use.
I mentioned in the opening of this post that I was aiming for 8:00 minute miles and around the 11 mile mark I could see this target slowly slipping away. The hills had slowed my pacing right down and for once I was allowing common sense and my body to dictate how I ran, so I didn't try to hard to chase those lost seconds back.
|A pleasing time for a challenging run|
With today's race completed and another 20km+ closer to my 1000km target, my 1000km challenge takes a rather relaxed pace for the next few weeks with a string of 10k races. This should hopefully allow me to finally shake off the bug I've been carrying around for the past week or so and if necessary take another week off from training to allow myself to fully recover.
One thing I did seem to notice from today's race was that I was never aware of how much further I had to run, at the 5 1/2 mile mark I remember checking my watch and being surprised that I had almost ran half of the race. There is a lot to be said about the benefits of running at a more relaxed pace occasionally both physically and mentally, something which this year will make me appreciate more than ever.
Distance: 21.17 km | 13.29 miles
Official Time: 01:46:58
Average Pace: 05:01 min/km | 08:06 min/mi
Goodie Bag: T-Shirt, Bottle of Powerade, Bottle of Water, Banana, Mars Bar, Kit Kat, Eat Natural Bar and Packet of Crisps.
View my run: