Monday, April 06, 2009

Reading Half - Race Report

OK OK - better late then never.... oh but then that's me writing so actually perhaps better never?! oh ho ho!

The Preamble

Without going into too much detail Saturday started with a little bit of a hangover (I had unceremoniously fallen off the lent wagon at my parents house the night before sampling the delights of their home made limoncello - aka paintstripper...) and so I went to watch some hockey to help blow the after affects away. Thoroughly wrapped up and toasty (it was a cold cold day and not looking good for race conditions the next day). After hockey I went to the bike shop to look, nah drowl, over a particularly little number in there (more of that to come). Met up with Leanne, Dan and Steve in the bike shop, we spent that long in there that ran out of time to go home and beautify myself for the evening's pasta loading meal in Henley. So went in my "scruffs" which surpisingly were accepted (given the posh nosh), but as the boys were all dressing down too I didn't have a problem (and besides we shoved Leanne through the door first who had made a bit more of an effort!).

Copious amounts of pasta and water, more pasta, more water later I left for home.... putting my clock forward on the way back (British Summer Time started last Saturday, how rude losing an hour the night before a Half!)... I realised it was already midnight (in the new time) and I had to be up in 6 hours... AGH! With my pasta filled belly I set my alarms, got my race kit out and got into bed!

It was at 0545 (NOT 0645) when I realised my phone time was clever as it had adjusted for Daylight saving, but not intelligent enough to have adjusted the alarm time to. How annoying. So I woke an hour even earlier then was necessary, managed a snooze and got up at 0640... Please note I wasn't the only one who had made this mistake, no Leanne had done the same and the whole neighbourhood apparently heard her alarm go off!!!

Got out of the house at 0730 to travel back over to Leanne and Dan's where we were all heading off (one car pass for parking), I got there in plenty of time only to be held up by the KING of the DUVET (Dan) not wanting to get out of bed until the last possible moment! Still despite the fact we left LATE we still made the car park on time and joined the other 14,000 runners plus spectators/ supporters at the "Mad Stad"

As the start time approached we all starting walking our way around to the start line (well the queue behind it), Leanne and I losing the boys as we needed to do one final nervous port-a-loo stop!

The weather byt the way started pretty cool but by the start it was near perfect early spring temperatures, cool and blue skies with hardly a breeze. Perfect.

Now the aims of the day were to PB and for me to get under two hours. Leanne was also going for a PB (last year her time was something like 2hrs 18mins), she's been running like billy-i-o over since last summer and I was confident that she'd smash her record. I suggested we run together (which meant she would be a couple of paces behind having her usual sulk), and I told her we'd be aiming for the first half in 59mins and try and negative split the second! ...Luckily for both of us I hadn't worked out what this would mean for 10k splits!!

The Race
So we managed to get into the race start queue just ahead of the 2hour pace setter. I thought that would be ok. The course is fairly flat really with a couple of short sharpe sneaky hills between mile 2 and 3 and another between 7 and 8. With a downhill after each too. The plan in my mind was to run the first mile fairly easy to get Leanne into the swing of things (she gets very nervous), chill into mile two and push up the hill before recovering a bit to mile 4 which is where the first water stop was.

During the first mile we were both a bit nervous but set a good pace. Rather disconcerting though after mile 1 we heard a siren - which ended up getting closer and closer - so close infact it was on the course so with lots of shouting "stay left" a route was cleared for the Ambulance. It turned out a spectator had had a bit of a funny turn to we went past the scene of that, not really wanting to see anything as it was a bit off putting. We powered up the hill, I'd told Leanne not to worry about getting a it out of breath up the hill as we had a gradual down hill to the water stop. It was during this down hill that Leanne did give me a quick, sharpe comment... something like... "KAREN!"..... "PACE!"... "What's your pace".. .oh opps I had sort of gone to a 8:34 min mile. Oops! I apologised, we grabbed some water and it was time for the first gel!

Towards mile 5 I was expecting to see Mum and Dad... and they were there! :O) Big smiles and a high five to them as we ran on down the hill towards town... catching an emu on the way... only for the sodding thing to run off from me (that costume must have weighed some), although I did catch the emu up again about mile 10!

We headed down through town to the tune of beating drums and lots of support (the crowds really did come out what with the good weather). I missed the 6 mile marker, but got to a big 10k sign.. .split time... 56:29! WOW!

The conversation went like this;
"Leanne; do you want to know your 10k split?"
"Stop sulking, it's good. Do you want to know?"
"OK. But you've PB'd by about 10mins I think"
"..Ummm... OK then"

Funny! That was quite close to my PB too! Lucky I didn't work that out beforehand or I may have freaked... you see moving to mins/ mile has worked in the pyschological battle to go faster!

We went through the 6.5miles bang on 59:03mins (which was the intent), "BRILLIANT" or so I thought.. "I'VE PACED THIS WELL"... alas though I forgot about the run being 13.1miles ... so actually we were slightly behind schedule as we went through 6.55miles in 59:28.. DARN!! Luckily I didn't realise at the time!

So the next stage in the plan was to "Go for it!"

But that's the stage when the people who have started to fast start to bunch a bit. Leanne by this time had dropped slightly off my shoulder, maybe the 10k PB freaked her a bit. So we spent the next mile with me looking over my shoulder for her only for her to shout before I got my head all the way around "I'm still here"... Good!

We got to the hill just after mile 7 and dug in... My mantra for the both of us was to power up and not lose 2 hours on that hill... NO BLINKIN WAY!

We then got really tied up with peeps, inevitably we splilt up. Got to about 8miles where the next support crew (Pikey-Spikey and Kirsty-Dawn) were waiting armed with camera! Kirsty actually managed to get some piccies of me (rather then random runners near me like last time).

[Photo's to come here but Blogger is not wanting to load them at the mo!]

I asked the girls to make sure they gave Leanne a good shout too (then I'd know how far back she was, it was only about 10-15secs)... I scuttled on for the next bit wondering whether I should wait up for her or just carry on... I really couldn't decide as I really didn't want to leave her to the half marathon doubting monsters that lurk in your mind. I eventually decided that we had kind of agreed beforehand that if she fell back that I was to run my own race... so about mile 9 on that's what I decided I needed to do.

I ran past other friends, namely JenJer-Le-Bogg and Sarah who also gave me a big shout out, before running further and catching back up with Kirsty and Spikey-Pikey (they had taken a supporters short cut!). Pikey ran with me for a bit, which was as well as I was going through the "what the hell was I thinking trying out the parent's home made Limoncello" moment! My strained calf was holding fine but my right hamstring was acting like it was going to cramp up at any moment!

Lesson - do not go to your parents house 48hours before a race.

I didn't look at my watch hardly at all during the last four miles. I just kept my head down and ran, pretty comfortably, although certainly not "easy". The bit 10 to 11 is just a long drag up an open carriageway, not much support, but lots of runners in a variety of states. The only time I looked at my watch I just looked at my "pace" (I love my Garmin). I think it was around 11miles that I caught the emu! Just as you then get to the "Mad Stad" you run back up the start chute (and away from the stadium, grrrrr) before doubling back on yourself. At this stage I still hadn't looked at my watch (brave or stupid I'm not sure), as I was coming back down the switch back I saw Leanne running in the other direction... I gave her a shout out, she replied so I shouldn't back she obviously wasn't trying hard enough if she had that much volume...LOL!

The run around and into the stadium was, once again, amazing! Entering the stadium down the tunnel and onto the pitch is incredible and really gets the hairs on the back of you neck going! I decided not to sprint all out the last bit because I didn't want to do anything to either my calf or quad (there are bigger races in the near future after all) and finished with a slap of the air and a clap of the hands! I stopped by watch... RELIEVED to see my time starting with a "1" but strangely momentarily annoyed the next couple of digits weren't "57"... but really I had nothing to complain about, official time 1:58:41 and a successful PB and successful race, Sporttracks is even saying my fastest 10k during the race was 55:36 (a PB!) and in fact 13.1miles 1:58:11 (so a negative split second half).

Leanne crossed the line about 3mins behing me to give herself a PB from last year by about 16minutes! WOW!

And the success didn't stop there.

Dan completed his first injury free finish in about 2 years also in a PB time, 1:35 (!) and as for James (1:25) and Steve (1:23) ... only one word for their PBs.. "GOLLY"

Obviously in order to celebrate we all went to the pub for a nice Sunday Roast spread - YUM!

Recovery went well, I didn't ache too much at all really, in fact I felt like I could have gone for a little run later in the afternoon - so that all bodes well for London I hope!


  1. Great job done by all!!

    And some lessons about what not to do before a race. LOL

  2. Great race! Recover well and you are going to be awesome at the London Marathon... long as you don't accept any intitations by your parents. ;-)

  3. Nice job, congrats on the new PB!

  4. Congrats on finishing sub-2! That is huge!!! I so want to do that my next half marathon. Way to go, sista!!!