About the Half Marathon
The course: mainly flat – described as the flattest course in Surrey, but don’t forget that Surrey itself isn’t completely flat! There are a few small inclines and hills that you need to mentally prepare for, or they could catch you out. There were a few entertainment points on the way too including a live band, a choir, some drums and music playing.
Pre-Race: there’s a packed event village, including a large bag drop inside the leisure centre and loos. Start pens are easy to access and clearly marked by estimated finish times. There was also an organised warm up run from the start area with about 10 minutes to go.
Post-race: I didn’t stop to pick up anything past the medals, but I think I spied some water, fruit and milkshakes. There wasn’t a finisher’s t-shirt, but they did provide an event Buff (which I loved!). There were chairs in the baggage drop off, so there was space to recuperate before heading off.
The 6am alarm was definitely not welcome and I did totally begrudge the fact that if Dan wasn’t working we could have driven over (which would have meant an hour later get up). I headed over to the station to get the train down to Woking. Getting public transport to races totally gives me anxiety as there are so many things that can go wrong, but everything went to plan on the day.
At Woking Station there were marshals and signposts guiding us to the start, so you couldn’t get lost.
I got to the event village around 8:15 and there was already a massive queue to pick up race packs. Because I’d entered so last minute, I had to pick my number up on the day instead of getting it posted to me. Witnthat in mind, I would have rather got to the race a bit earlier, but that was the time that the first train got me there.
Anyway, I got my number pinned on and got my running tights off to put in my bag. Ideally I would have warmed up at this point, but the queue for the baggage drop had just started to stretch almost the whole length of the event village, so I took my place in the line instead. And in glad I did as it took 15 minutes to get my bag dropped off and I had about 15 minutes to spare to get warmed up and take my place in the start line.
I got a quick jog and some drills in, before taking my place in the start pen (I didn’t join in with the organised warm up, but the guy running it was very motivational lol) I joined at just by the sub-1:45 mark. I knew that was about 8:10 pace, which was just slower than I wanted to take the first mile.
The race started and everyone around me seemed to shoot off. It was difficult not to go with them, but I stuck to the pace I’d planned and within a mile everyone had settled down. Its hard not to start fast in such a big event with all the crowds around you, but I’m glad I didn’t give in.
I’d found a group to take the first 3 miles with, but when my watch buzzed for mile 2, it turns out they’d slowed slightly and I’d lost 25 seconds from my plan. I didn’t panic, I just knew it was time to pick things up and move on.
Everything went smoothly until mile 8, the first part of the ‘out and back’ bit of the cottage was so inspiring as you could see all the top runners speed past. I have to believe that one day I won’t be too far behind them, but right now I’ve got a long way to go before I’m anywhere near close to those times.
At mile 8 I could feel that I was really starting to work. A little hamstring ache at mile 9 after I could feel my stride shortening. I worked to try and stretch by strife length back out, but it was a bit achey for the next mile or so. At mile 11 I really let myself down. I let a few inclines get to me and my brain was telling me I was going to miss my PB and there was no point trying. I tried to block it out but it was a loud voice. Frustratingly, if I hadn’t lost that time, I know now that I would have just beaten my PB.
Anyway, at the end of mile 11 I knew I could make it if I pushed on. A switch flicked in my head and I went for it. Last mile in 7:38 which really indicates that I did have plenty left in the tank. I hit the last 0.1 mile and could hear the countdown to my PB in my head. I stopped my watch over the line to see 1:42:50. I really hadn’t prepared myself for that outcome, I had either expected to miss it or just better it. Not get dead on my PB…
I was quite emotional until I got to the bag drop. I heard some other people had a much worse time than me and started to see the funny side of my time today. ‘At least I’m not going backwards’ I laughed to myself. Only I could manage to match my PB over a half marathon to the second!
When I got back, I compared the elevation profile from Surrey to Thorpe Park Half, and Surrey had about 100ft more elevation gain. This made me feel a lot better as in real terms I have improved – I managed to do my PB time on a hillier course.
I’ve got an October half marathon booked in, and I’ve told myself that if I don’t PB there, then I’m going to step back from half marathons for a bit to focus on my 5k and 10k times. I don’t want to repeat past mistakes and push a distance where I’m not making improvements. I run because I love seeing the improvements I make on my times, so I don’t want to lose my love of running by focusing on half’s when I can make gains elsewhere.
Thanks so much for reading, this was a great event but just not my day. I’ll be back on Sunday with more training updates, so see you all then x