ASICS Fleet Pre-London Half Marathon

March 12, 2007

After nearly three weeks off running following a knee injury, yesterday (Sunday 11th March) I ran the Fleet Half Marathon.

We set off from home at 8:30am, arriving at Fleet around 10:15, by which time the nerves were starting to get the better of me. I really had no idea what to expect, having had three weeks off training apart from the 30 mile bike ride the week before. Would I complete the course? Drop out early? Would my knee hold out?

I got changed into my Specialized Cycling top (Nearest thing I have to a proper running top), Ron Hill Tracksters and Brooks Vapor 7 running shoes, pinned my number to the front of my top, and loaded up the pockets with a bottle of SIS carb drink and a couple of SIS gels, along with my iPod and of course my ventolin inhaler…Just in case!

As usual for such an event, the atmosphere grew as the start time approached. With 30 minutes to go I dumped my bag in the kit storage area and started to warm up and stretch out, before taking the 5 minute walk to the start point, which to me seemed a little surreal…nearly 2,500 people, lining up in running gear ready to race…in a narrow oh-so-suburban street!

I walked around to keep warm, stretching a little on the way, with 10 minutes to go I took up my place in the start at the 2 hours mark (You line up as near to your estimated finish time as possible).

The Klaxxon sounded, and I was off! Walking at first, then as the (people) traffic cleared slightly I was into a jog…Then we stopped again, walking very slowly, shuffling almost! I can only guess this happened as the bunch at the front reached the first corner.

After a short while we were off again, this time the group broke up nicely. Personally I was able to keep a good pace at this point, nice and slow as planned! After around 3 miles I realised I really should have had a base layer and shorts, rather and a top and leggings as it was warmer than expected, then to my dissapointment my iPod gave up on me at around the 5 mile mark. Around a mile or so on some poor lady had stopped due to some injury, followed by an idiot on a motor bike tearing down the road, pretty much ignoring the runners (I guess he couldnt work out why the rest of the traffic was stopped, or why there were ‘Caution Runners!’ signs everywhere!) At this point my spirits were quite low, even so I kept going, sipping my carb drink as I went.

Around a mile later my iPod woke up from its ‘sleep’ and I was able to listen to the trance play list I had prepared which really got me buzzed up and helped me pick up the pace a little. I then took on the of the two energy gels.

Feeling a lot more positive, I was able to speed up a little more, passing a few people and not really feeling like I was making much effort at this point, which was good as I wanted to save some in the tank for the second half.

I realised a short distance on that my pacing was off as I was passing people who were later passing me…and so on! Oddly, when I slowed down my knee started hurting, as it did when I speeded up, some where in-between was about right, I think due to the fact that my steps were the right distance to enable me to keep the height down, reducing the impact. I also found tha keeping my arms low down, almost with my hands by my hips seemed to use less energy.

At around 10 miles my legs were really starting to hurt, the water stations, marshalls and great local support kept me going, knowing that I had done most of the run…Just another 3 miles to go, which is 5km…I tried telling myself that I only had one of my normal lunch time runs to do, this kind of helped, but they dont hurt as much! From around 11 miles I just zoned out, concentrating on my music, trying to forget the pain, jaw relaxed and dropped, breathing at a medium pace, eyes fixed ahead on my next mini-target, which was anything from a tree to a car to the next water station!

I didnt actually realise how close I was to the finish until a guy I had chatted to on the route caught me up and said “Can’t believe we’ve only got ½ mile to go!”. I managed a smile and a nod before really picking up the pace, almost doubling my speed which made me a little dizzy for a while.

The real rush came when I turned into the event field, and started down the finish line which was around 300 metres long, lined with clapping, cheering, smiley people! Running that last stretch felt amazing, especially seeing my family cheering for me! I gave them a big smile and double thumbs up before crossing the finish line at 2hr 10min 3sec…I time I was pleased with considering the break from training and the inury.

What would I have done differently?

– Not use the drinks stations as an excuse to stop
– Stop overtaking people for the sake of over taking
(e.g. Concentrate on my own pace a bit more!)
– Train harder before
(Bit slack this time round, mainly due to the knee injury!)
I will be doing that race again next year – Loved every minute of it! Well done to the organisers – Top job! Also, heres to the peeps I chatted to the on the runnersworld.co.uk forums in the weeks running up to the event, thanks for the words of support!
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